Tuesday, June 22, 2021
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Your BBC guide through the bias jungle

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FOLLOWING the outstanding success of their Impartiality Training, the BBC have devised a mandatory course to combat Unconscious Bias. The Conservative Woman has once more gained exclusive access to its content.

Aims and objectives 

To ensure that all BBC staff employ people in all roles and productions who support our ideals and vision relating to diversity and inclusivity.

Course Outline 

What is unconscious bias?

The impact of unconscious bias on commissioning policy

Unconscious bias in the interview room

Recognising and challenging name blindness 

Actions required

What is unconscious bias?

Unconscious bias occurs when people favour others who look like them and/or share their values. 

It is true to say that everyone, even those of us here at the BBC, has unconscious bias. 

Take for example a commissioning editor. S/he may have scanned a script or proposal that made positive references to Christianity, Brexit or Israel. Naturally they would have quickly discarded the submission. But what if, on closer inspection, those references turned out to be sarcastic or ironic? 

Trainees will try to identify examples of recent BBC programmes that may at first sight have deviated from the BBC’s mission to realign traditional British culture and values, but on closer inspection support our shared vision.

The impact of unconscious bias on commissioning policy

From previous training courses such as ‘How to Combat White Supremacy’, ‘Challenging the White Patriarchy’ and ‘Coping with a Colonial Legacy’ you will be aware of the inherent injustices in the social and economic fabric, rampant in British society.

In groups you will discuss questions that can have an impact on future programming, such as:

‘Is there a role for white people as presenters?’

‘If a white male identifies as a BAME female, what career preferences should they receive?’

‘Is there a place for white heterosexuals in BBC drama?’

Unconscious bias in the interview room

In this module you will be shown a video of an interview with a white male, called Darren, who has applied for a job in the stores at Media City. To the untrained eye he appears respectable, diligent, and to have the qualifications to do the job. Naturally, your first reaction is to say he is in no way suited for work at the BBC because he does not help us meet our quota for one of our over-represented categories of diversity.

However, perhaps this is our unconscious bias talking.

What if he identifies as a she from the LGBTIQ+ community?

What if one of his parents was a parent of colour and he just looks as though he has a good tan?

Perhaps he is a BLM and/or XR activist.

The trainees will discuss how the BBC’s recruitment methods can determine whether people like Darren are suitable applicants before they are invited to interview.

Recognising and challenging name blindness

Name blindness is one of the most common manifestations of personal unconscious bias. 

Trainees will be given some common British names such as John and Mary. They will be asked to draw pictures of the person they imagine. 

Typically the trainee will draw a white European person. But consider this. What if that person were not white European? What if they were a person of colour? Unconscious bias would cause you not to interview John Lee Hooker and John Legend, or possibly a disabled person such as Long John Silver.

As for Mary, you would have missed the opportunity to employ Mary Wollstonecraft and would have discriminated against the blessed Mary Seacole.

When you are surrounded by Nagas and Faisals, your bias will cause you to believe that these are the only sort of acceptable names for BBC employees.

In this module you will realise that others with names such as Peter, Paul, Mary, Janet and John may, perversely, be people who would fit our diversity and inclusivity agenda.

Actions Required

If you do have a ‘traditional’ British name, why not change it to something that better represents the Corporation’s diversity? Geeta Guru Murphy is a perfect name for a BBC employee. It implies non-binary, mystery, wisdom and a multi-national identity, with a hint of the Fenian. As examples, Gary Lineker could become Garibaldi Precious-Kardassian, and Jeremy Vine, Jamal Vindaloo-Sandinista. 

Who could you become?

Consider how programmes such as Dad’s Army, Monty Python and Fawlty Towers would have been improved with a more diverse cast, untainted by unconscious bias.

Don’t forget to register your stammer, short-sightedness, baldness, halitosis, tinnitus, athlete’s foot or ingrowing toenail to our Directorate of Inclusivity and Diversity. What you think is a drawback could be career-enhancing.

The BBC will never rest in its mission to represent the victims of British culture and colonialism.

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John Ellwood
John is the father of four beautiful girls. He is the co-author of Steam Dreams and other interesting stories. He has generously donated his vaccine to the people of France. John is, thankfully, not knowingly related to Tobias Ellwood.

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