Everyday Diversity in the UK Screen Sector - UKRI Inter-Disciplinary Interface Innovation Fellowship

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leicester
Department Name: School of Management


The UK screen sector is vital to the country's economy and culture. Comprising film, TV, video games, animation and special effects production, it contributes at least £6bn to the UK economy (Olsberg SPI with Nordicity 2015), employs around 186,000 people directly (Oxera, 2017), and is the second largest driver of services GDP (Sweney, 2017).

The screen sector needs a strong and diverse pool of creative talent and skills - to be competitive, and to better reflect the diversity of UK society. While the sector has expressed its commitment to change, its talent base is currently neither as strong nor as diverse as it needs to be (Bazalgette, 2017; Eikhof et al., 2018). The proposed Innovation Fellowship project will conduct new research that will help the screen sector to achieve its ambitions for greater workforce diversity.

Some mentoring, networking and monitoring initiatives to increase diversity in the screen sector exist. But delivering the step change that the sector aspires to will require that diversity is more consistently embedded and routinized into all aspects of business practice - what we might refer to as 'Everyday Diversity'. Workforce diversity is not simply a case of monitoring statistics but of ensuring that inclusion and opportunity inform practices and decision-making throughout screen business: recruiting cast and crew, for instance, planning projects or financing ideas. Currently, many business practices constitute barriers that women, workers from minority ethnic or working class backgrounds and disabled workers find difficult to overcome. Screen sector practitioners need to change these practices so that they do not (inadvertently) exclude workers and limit their business' access to talent and skills. The proposed research project will help them make these changes.

The proposed project has been developed in conversation with screen sector organisations such as the British Film Institute, Creative Diversity Network, PACT, Creative Industries Federation and UK Screen Alliance. It will have three phases:
- A Research phase will identify the most important situations in which employment and career opportunities are being granted or withheld, and assess how these situations could be changed to have better outcomes for workforce diversity.
- Development & Production phase will build Everyday Diversity, a set of innovative tools embedded in a bespoke website, to help screen sector practitioners work towards diversity in their everyday business. The scope of Everyday Diversity will depend on the outcomes of the Research Phase, but indicative components are an online self-test, case studies, good practice checklists, change roadmaps, monitoring tools, slide decks and briefing papers.
- A Capacity Building phase will make sure that practitioners and policy-makers know about Everyday Diversity and use it. This phase will contain a launch event, workshops and masterclasses, implementation coaching or 'train the trainer'-type programmes, and promotion at industry events and through (social) media.

To make sure that Everyday Diversity is fit-for-purpose and used by the screen sector, the project will work closely with screen sector organisations and businesses. The lead researcher will work on a part-time secondment to the British Film Institute and the Creative Diversity Network to address issues of use and legacy and expand her network of screen sector contacts and collaborators.

Establishing a more diverse workforce in the screen sector and other creative sectors, making sure these sectors are competitive and represent and inspire the whole UK society is a key part of the Government's Industrial Strategy. The proposed Fellowship will help deliver on all of those aims. Most importantly, it will make the UK screen sector a more accessible career destination for individuals - regardless of, for instance, their race, gender, class or sexual orientation.

Planned Impact

The proposed Fellowship project will have short-term and long-term impact outside academia.

The short-term impact will be to increase the screen sector's capacity for practice that more equitably affords employment and career opportunities. Engaging with, and using, Everyday Diversity as a set of diagnostic and developmental tools and supplementary resources will enable screen sector practitioners to assess and improve their daily practice in relation to workforce diversity. The sector will thus be better positioned to achieve the workforce diversity goals it has set itself, and the step change it is committed to through the Industrial Strategy Creative Industries Sector Deal. The direct beneficiaries of the proposed project are therefore employers, managers and decision-makers in the screen sector as well as the screen sector workforce more broadly. The project will work particularly towards impacting the practices of commissioners, producers, HR professionals, and any screen sector practitioners with responsibilities for recruitment, project planning and investment. Achieving this short-term impact, the building of capacity, is the focus of the third project phase, and it is this direct impact that will be monitored during the project's lifespan as outlined in the Pathways to Impact.

In addition, different types of long-term impact are expected to arise from the screen sector's increased capacity for practice that makes employment and career opportunities more equitable.
More equitable employment and career opportunities would mean that a broader, more diverse range of individuals, and therefore skills and talent, would become visible to the screen sector, and would be able to gain employment and build careers.
- individuals who are currently less or not at all able to establish a career in the screen sector will have new and increased employment opportunities and benefit from the employment growth projected for the creative industries, including the screen sector;
- businesses will be able to source a more diverse workforce and to contract a more diverse range of providers, which increases the variety of creative outputs and broadens the range of business opportunities, which in turn positively affects overall business success;
- businesses will be able to draw on a broader and stronger supply of talent and skills, and will thus be able to make good or avoid underperformance resulting from skills shortages and mismatches;
- the UK screen sector overall will be more representative of the UK's society and thus better able to engage its audiences and consumers, resulting in more relevant creative outputs and debates as well as product market success.
At sector level, access to a stronger supply of skills and talent plus more business opportunities and product market success will put the screen sector in a stronger position to deliver economic and inclusive growth in itself and as part of the creative industries. Which, in turn, will help the creative industries strengthen their position as a key component of the UK economy and central to delivering the Government's Industrial Strategy.

Achieving these long-term impacts has been a key motivator in the development of this Fellowship application, for the PI and the supporting screen sector organisations. While some of these long-term impacts could already arise during the Fellowship project, overall they will take longer than the Fellowship project to occur, especially in a cleanly measurable way. The Fellowship project will develop the Everyday Diversity tools to allow tracking impact and, as part of the legacy activities, discuss impact monitoring activities (see Pathways to Impact). However, due to the time horizon of the Fellowship project it is not possible to meaningfully include sector-wide measures of long-term impacts in the monitoring of progress and success.
Title Database of screen sector diversity policy documents UK 2012-20 
Description This database comprises all diversity policy documents for the UK screen sector published 2012-2020. It records standard publication information, key content information (e.g. sectors and diversity characteristics covered) as well as content analysis findings (e.g. which diversity concepts are used; which barriers to diversity are identified; who is positioned as the agent for change). 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This database provides an invaluable foundation for the project. It provides easy, searchable access to information about, for instance, (a) how practitioners and policy makers approach diversity and inclusion in the screen industries; (b) what levers for improvement they recognise; and (c) where gaps in coverage and data exist.