The BBC is appointing a new board – and it only has three women

Diversity promises are not being realised at the top

Image: Stuart Pinfold

The BBC yesterday announced five non-executive appointments to its new board, bringing the total membership to 12.

Unfortunately, despite the corporation’s repeated promises to increase its diversity and representation, the board currently includes just three women — Tanni Grey-Thompson, Anne Bulford and Ashley Steel — and one BME member — Tom Ilube.

David Clementi, Chairman of the BBC, does not seem to have noticed the oversight, commenting that he is ‘delighted to have been able to put together such a talented board with a broad range of skills and experience.’

The broadcaster has repeatedly come under fire for failing to represent the British population, either in hiring or broadcasts. Although a new diversity strategy was launched just under a year ago, it was criticised as not going far enough, with accusations that ‘spin [had] triumphed over substance.’

As recently as October, Ofcom chief Sharon White warned that ‘on minority communities, older women, it is not doing as good a job as it should be.’

The new board has been established as part of a significant shift in BBC governance. It replaces the BBC Trust and will play a similar role to the board of a commercial company, focusing on strategy and oversight.

While the make-up of the board will disappoint many, it may contain the seeds of its own redemption. Grey-Thompson, a former paralympian and member of the House of Lords, has been an outspoken advocate of greater diversity in the BBC — previously calling for executives who hinder change to be sacked.

Two more board members — representing Wales and Northern Ireland — have yet to be appointed.

Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin is editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter.

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