Last June, we made a commitment to be open and transparent about the work we are doing to improve representation throughout our workforce and to increase the level of on-screen diversity in our future productions.
We had already instilled a stronger remit on diversity in our development slate and were working with a number of partner organisations on projects to increase diversity and improve access to the industry. But we knew we needed to do more.
This is the first in a series of six-monthly updates documenting the progress we have made to date and outlining future priorities, which we will be sharing in the spirit of accountability and the knowledge that there is still much more work to do.
So, in the second half of 2020, we:
- Established a Diversity & Inclusion Taskforce, with representatives from all four areas of our business: Development, Production, Operations, and Sales & Marketing.
Drafted a Diversity & Inclusion Charter, which sets out our commitment to building a workforce that is truly reflective of our society.
- Surveyed our 300+ employees to get accurate, up-to-date data on the demographics of our workforce (including but not limited to (age, disability, gender, race, religion and sexual orientation), so that we can benchmark against national and industry figures and assess our progress on the above point.
- Recruited Dr Mena Fombo to review our Diversity & Inclusion Charter and work with us on an ongoing basis as we implement the recommendations of our Diversity & Inclusion taskforce. Dr Fombo is a global speaker, diversity and inclusion facilitator, coach and consultant with specialist knowledge of the TV industry as the co-founder of Bristol-based independent production company, Blak Wave Productions. We are long-time admirers of her work and are delighted that she has agreed to work with us to help ensure diversity and inclusion are at the heart of everything we do.
- Created two bursaries for our three-month Aardman Academy Industry Training: Stop Motion 1 course, which begins in February. We are fully funding two places on the course for individuals from under-represented communities, as part of our commitment to building a more diverse workforce within the animation industry and nurturing talent from the ground up. We are working with Creative Access, a social enterprise that facilitates access to the creative industries for those from under-represented communities, to allocate the bursaries.
As we continue this work, our priorities for the first half of 2021 include:
- Rolling out mandatory unconscious bias training for all employees, to create more awareness of the impact of unconscious bias, for example on the recruitment process.
- Assessing all major projects currently in production against the BFI Diversity Standards, and developing plans to improve in any areas in which the projects are currently failing (even if additional costs are incurred).
- Funding a number of new opportunities for trainees, with recruitment supported by organisations such as Creative Access, which will ensure we are engaging with and investing in a more diverse workforce – this is something we launched in 2021 and will build on year-on-year.
- Identifying and seeking funding for opportunities for nurturing talent from under-represented communities on all major projects in production or development, together with our partners.
We hope that these regular updates will demonstrate our commitment to improving diversity across the business and representation in our productions, as well as encouraging our business partners to support our initiatives and inspiring further action across the industry.
Any questions about the work we are doing in this area should please be directed to Marketing Director Lucy.Wendover@aardman.com.