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: on-screen representation, project leadership, industry access and audiences. The aim is to build real and lasting change by encouraging everyone involved in filmmaking to make meaningful changes to their projects 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.