No Diversity, No commission. The Impact on Black Talent

For a long time, only a limited number of TV and Film productions were aimed at showcasing Black talent or telling Black stories. Steve McQueen’s Small Axe, Jordan Peele’s Get Out and the Black Panther franchise are notable moments in recent history that changed the way people of colour saw their stories being told on-screen.

To promote diversity across its network and associated brands, ViacomCBS announced that its ‘No Diversity No Commission” policy will be implemented across its entire international network of 180 countries.

The UK policy was rolled out globally in summer 2020, spanning Comedy Central, MTV, and Nickelodeon networks. All production under ViacomCBS must meet diversity guidelines before budgets are signed off and production is approved to begin. ViacomCBS International CEO David Lynn says “This approach will ensure that we are both reflecting our audience, as well as elevating new diverse creative voices.” This sentiment was also emphasised by Amadu Sowe “we strive to foster a culture of inclusiveness…..with initiatives which lead to real results….”

In Europe and Africa, 30% of the ViacomCBS International 2021 budget will be focused on producing stories about underrepresented groups. This came before Ofcom announced in a 2020 diversity and equal opportunities report, that broadcasters need to become quicker and more effective in making their workforces representative of the country.

Industry-led accountability

Between 2018-2019, 30% of debut directors funded by BFI were of non-white ethnicity, and 15.5% of BFI employees identify as belonging to an under-represented ethnic group, an improvement on previous years. The BFI Diversity Standards Criteria and their commitment to improving diversity and inclusion is a step in the right direction. Steadily increasing opportunities for black talent to contribute to the creative economy.

The Creative Industries Council (CIC) Diversity Charter is designed to drive greater diversity across the UK’s creative industries. CIC Co-Chair & BBC Studios CEO Tim Davie said: “It is vital that we draw on and develop the broadest possible talent pool, and ensure that our businesses and output reflect and resonate with people from all backgrounds.” Recognising the need to ensure diversity and inclusion across music, TV, film, gaming, fashion, and the arts.

International Opportunities

Creative industries contributed £115.9billion of value to the UK economy in 2019, making up just below 6% of the economy as a whole. A figure which is only as significant as the number of opportunities created to represent the diversity of talent within the creative sector.

The international inclusion of stories developed by people of colour creates space for black talent to be valued and a community where black stories can be developed. Here is where real growth can take place, and where milestones in black Britain are achieved.

The significance of British actor Daniel Kaluuya winning an Oscar at the 2021 ceremony, for his role as Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, is the culmination of diversity and inclusion on a scale that is continuing to grow. It’s an exciting journey for Black-British TV and Film and the reason why the new ViacomCBS Diversity policy is more relevant to the UK market than ever before. Great news for black creatives looking to break into the industry or grow their career. And catalytic to the creative sector which is about to become more interesting and eclectic as a result of this shift in the way the creative industry works.

On June 25th, 2021 BYP-Network will be hosting an all-day Creative Future Summit event geared for Dreamers, Do-ers, and Designers.  It’s a must-attend event for Black on-screen and off-screen professionals committed to rewriting the narrative of creativity to reposition the power and influence of black originality.

Click here to reserve your spot, meet like-minded community members, and advance your career opportunities.