At Common Purpose we believe that inclusive leadership is essential to creating agile and innovative teams. We’ve caught up with Anne Morrison, Chair of BAFTA’s International Committee and a board member of Women in Film and Television, to hear her insights in the D&I space. Here's what Anne had to say:
Has D&I come far enough in the last 10 years?
Starting in the broadcasting industry in 1981, the environment was very different. It was an era when people felt quite happy telling racist or sexist jokes, and those on the receiving end had to laugh through fear of being accused of having no sense of humour. That wouldn’t happen now, but in many ways I fear the prejudice has gone underground and is harder to spot. Among many others, I did what I could to change the working environment, but it’s still a work in progress,
I think you need people inside organisations and outside them, to apply the pressure that leads to change. That’s how, after 30 years, we can look back and can hardly believe things were the way they were.
Abuse and prejudice thrives on silence, when people who suffer aren’t willing to stay silent, then a lot changes. I think we’ve seen this recently, with the MeToo and Time’s Up movements that people are being brave enough to speak up about things, and that has inspired others to do the same.
That’s one of the reasons I’m hopeful. Things which used to be tucked under the carpet are coming out, there’s a different mood, and let’s hope that things are changed for good as a result of it.
There’s never been a time when there’s so much talk about diversity, but I sometimes think, to quote Elvis Presley, we need ‘a little less conversation, a little more action’. The increased level of discussion is great but the emphasis needs to be on practicalities.
I’ve had people say to me that I have to be patient and wait for ‘evolution’ to solve everything. Well, evolution took billions of years - I’m not that patient! Things need a push to make them happen, and that’s why being a champion for diversity is so important. We need to deliver these messages in ways that can be heard; with subtlety, humour, resonating hashtags – whatever it takes – to be persuasive and impactful. There will always be people who don’t want to hear, but, more now than ever before, there are people who are open to listening and taking action.
It’s important in this long struggle not to get bitter or despairing. Yes, there’s a lot more to be done but in order to create change you have to believe that change is possible, and remain positive and energetic.
Tackle the environment, not the individuals
At BAFTA, over the years, we have tried to remove barriers to entry to our industries for the individual; for example by providing scholarships for those without financial means. However, there’s another way of coming at inclusion and that’s to tackle the environment that they are coming into. You can empower individuals all you like, but if they are meeting prejudice and an industry that is set up along traditional lines, you’re not going to get far.
BAFTA took a leading role in increasing diversity, in front of and behind the camera, by changing the eligibility criteria for two British film categories at next year’s BAFTA Film Awards. In future, films will only be eligible if they meet at least two of the four BFI Diversity standards regarding: on-screen representation, project leadership, industry access and audiences. The aim is to build real and lasting change, by encouraging everyone involved in film making, to make meaningful changes to their projects and to become more inclusive.
This was a big strategic and systematic change, so of course we did a lot of consultation, with the industry and found that they were largely positive, particularly when they understood that BAFTA and the BFI would work with them to support them in making these changes.
Another benefit of having these standards is that they actively make people think about their unconscious bias. When I was at the BBC we did a lot of work around unconscious bias. People very often mean well, but don’t realise when they are showing bias. The standards consistently make people stop, think and assess –every time, year on year, film by film,, people are being made to think about D&I. That’s got to have a positive impact in the long run.
Contributor - Anne Morrison
Anne’s impressive career in the arts, has seen her hold many senior roles; both in voluntary and professional capacities.
As Chair of Pearson College, and BAFTA’s International Committee and a board member of Women in Film and Television. Anne is a powerful advocate for the importance of Diversity and Inclusion. Anne has played a crucial role in the BBC’s Expert Women programme and, more recently, the Time’s Up movement.
Working for the BBC for 33 years, encompassing roles such as Controller of Documentaries and Contemporary Factual and Director of the BBC Academy, Anne has great insights into what it takes to lead successful teams.