Channel 4 Launches First Equity Strategy

Channel 4 has launched its first equity strategy, “Equity by Design”, an ambitious framework that sets out how it will create fair outcomes for everyone and accelerate change in the industry. The strategy details how Channel 4 will build on its industry-leading work, working to ensure there is equity in experience by improving how diversity and inclusion is built into decision-making. 

The strategy, a blueprint for everyone who works at Channel 4, will support the business in staying true to and delivering its public service remit in a changing world. It will ensure that as Channel 4 accelerates its transformation into a digital-first public service streamer, it can continue to be an inclusive, distinctive and disruptive force for positive change.

As part of the strategy, the Creative Diversity team, which sits in the commissioning department, will be renamed Creative Equity, a reflection of the focus and emphasis on equity throughout the entire business.

The strategy is built around six principles, borne out of what Channel 4 employees, audiences and stakeholders say the organisation is doing well, and where it can do better. Each principle is backed by bold, organisation-wide activities designed to drive transformation:   

1. ‘Make informed choices’: Decisions should be informed by diverse views and high-quality data relating to employees and audiences. Activities include “meet the audience” sessions and a Creative Equity review of on and off-screen representation and portrayal metrics.

2. ‘Design for inclusion’: Channel 4’s content, products, ways of working and workplaces will be designed with everyone in mind. This includes launching further Codes of Portrayal for the representation of Trans, Arab and Muslim, and Jewish people, along with Race and Ethnicity.

3. ‘Choose inclusive partners’: A focus on investing in diverse, inclusive partners who share Channel 4’s values, while passing learnings and expertise on to others. Here Channel 4 will assess and hold suppliers accountable to their commitment to equity. 

4. ‘Treat people right’ – Channel 4 expects its people, particularly its leaders, to drive an inclusive culture and aims to help the broadcast industry set the standard in tackling unacceptable behaviour, through inclusive leadership training and its “Safe Space” programme.

5. ’Create opportunity’ – continuing to lead in workforce representation, and progressive and inclusive workplace practices. This includes a move from diversity targets to 2024+ ‘floor levels’ and the introduction of a new class-focused employee network at Channel 4.

6. ‘Lead on societal impact’ – acting on emerging societal issues affecting employees and audiences, tackling topics others shy away from, such as class. Channel 4 will also create space for meaningful conversation about complex, nuanced topics, including the ongoing conflict and crisis in Israel and Gaza. It will examine how it can best support the health and wellbeing of Jewish, Muslim and Arab employees, as well as looking at how it can create a more inclusive culture with regards to faith. And Channel 4 will continue to implement Channel 4’s Anti Racism Commitments. A larger summary of progress to date against these commitments can be found attached. 

From on-screen initiatives like Black to Front and industry-leading commercial initiatives like the Diversity in Advertising Award and Untapped, to pioneering workplace policies focused on women’s health and gender-affirming healthcare for employees, Channel 4 has led the industry and public debate.

But the new strategy also recognises that there is more work to be done to ensure Channel 4’s reality matches its aspirations and increases its impact.

Alex Mahon, CEO of Channel 4 said: “The fight for equitable representation is the foundation of Channel 4. Changing the nature of our business and our industry to do this better requires constant improvement, honesty, thinking and challenge. We are proud of the lead we took on diversity, on inclusion and on anti-racism, women’s health and many areas. But now it is time for the next new ground.  This Equity Strategy is the next jump ahead and will centre our ways of doing things and our employees and audience in helping us make more positive impact. As we become the world’s first public service streamer, we will be doing it with these values at the heart of all our choices.”

Marcia Williams, Director of Inclusion, said: “Channel 4 has been a trailblazer in diversity and inclusion. As we adapt to meet a changing environment and shifting viewer needs with Fast Forward, we must reinforce our ability to continue our work on equity, diversity and inclusion. It is fundamental to what we do at Channel 4 and it is what makes Channel 4 distinctive. This strategy creates a structure within which everyone at Channel 4 can drive sustainable transformation every day and it will keep the organisation at the forefront of progress and innovation.”

The strategy comes after Channel 4 exceeded its 2023 diversity goals. At the end of 2023, 58% of its workforce were women, versus the target of 50%; 22% were ethnically diverse, against a target of 20%; 21% were disabled, compared to a target of 12%; and 13% were LGBTQ+, well beyond the 6% target.

In the top 100 earners, we aimed for a 50-50 gender split – 54% were women. We also achieved our 20% goal for ethnic diversity in this group by 2023.

You can read more about the “Equity by Design” strategy and the anti-racism commitments below:

Channel 4’s Equity Strategy – Equity by Design

Channel 4’s Commitment to Anti-Racism – 2024 update

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