BBC quits Stonewall diversity scheme to remain "impartial"

It was confirmed in an email sent to BBC staff yesterday, November 10, that the company would be leaving the Stonewall Diversity Champions programme.

BBC logo on the side of one of their buildings
Image: Sebastiandoe5, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The BBC has made the controversial decision to remove itself from the Stonewall Diversity Champions programme, just weeks after publishing an anti-Trans article that faced a huge backlash from the public.

The decision was announced to staff in an email sent around by senior management Wednesday, November 10, which cited its intention to remain “impartial when reporting on public policy debates” as its reason for departing the scheme.

The Stonewall Diversity Champions programme is a scheme that provides training on LGBTQ+ inclusion to employers to ensure that all staff are treated fairly, respectfully and equally in the workplace.

“After careful consideration,” read a statement from the BBC, “we believe it is time to step back from the Diversity Champions Programme and will also no longer participate in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index.”

Following the lead of the UK government’s Cabinet Office and Ofcom, both of which departed the Stonewall programme earlier this year, director general of the BBC, Tim Davie acknowledged that the move would not be “a welcome development” for some employees, but claims the decision to leave the scheme was to “minimise the risk of perceived bias”.

Stonewall responded to the news with a statement of their own, calling the development a “shame”.

“We will continue to engage with the BBC on a number of fronts to champion support for LGBTQ+ colleagues and to represent our communities through their reporting,” the statement read.

“This news comes in the wake of organised attacks on workplace inclusion that extend far beyond the Diversity Champions programme. It is shocking that organisations are being pressured into rolling back support for LGBTQ+ employees. Ultimately, it is LGBTQ+ people who suffer.

“At Stonewall, we stand for LGBTQ+ people everywhere. We imagine a world where all of us are free to be ourselves and can live our lives to the full. We face rising intolerance degrading our hard-won rights. But we won’t be silenced. Not until all of us are free to be proud, free to be loved, free to be together, free to be who we are. Our work continues until the world we imagine is the world we live in.”

An unnamed LGBTQ+ BBC staff member spoke to PinkNews and said that, “I think it’s very clear where the BBC has fallen on this. While it may say it’s impartial, I think for most people, we can see that isn’t the case.”

The same staff member said that the move was “inevitable” and highlighted that the decision was made amidst the aftermath of the widely-condemned anti-Trans article written by Caroline Lowbridge.

“It’s just really sad and disappointing to be working in a major company that has unknowingly staked a claim on one side of this ‘debate’. In its attempt to be impartial on this matter, it has been very partial.”

The staff member goes on to say, “As an LGBT+ member of staff, it’s not that I don’t feel safe working for the BBC, because there’s no threat I don’t believe to any BBC members of staff. But what it does change is knowing that you are working for a company that believes LGBT+ existence is up for debate. It’s a really hard time to be working for a company like the BBC.”

© 2021 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

Support GCN

GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.

During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.

GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.

0 comments. Please sign in to comment.