Let's look at things another way

Graphic of crowd of people Reflect and Represent week will focus on difference at the BBC

At the heart of the BBC's Reflect and Represent is something very simple - how do we get closer to our audiences?

Recent census figures show some stark differences in the makeup and lifestyles of the UK's population, compared to only decade ago, but we don't need a census to tell us that our audience is changing. We can simply look around at who's consuming our output - and, more importantly, at who's not.

It's responding to that constant change, plus our determination to reach new and underserved audiences in order to tell stories that are fresh, relevant and modern, that is the driving force behind Reflect and Represent - a week of activity and events across the BBC from February 24 to 28.

Underpinning the whole week is the BBC's fundamental commitment to serve all audiences - and in the run up to Charter Renewal that has never felt more important.

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Connecting with our audience through our output comes from an intrinsic understanding and interest in people's stories, lives and concerns ”

End Quote Amanda Rice Head of Diversity
Ready for change?

That's why, on Wednesday 26, director of television Danny Cohen and director of strategy and digital James Purnell will consider whether the BBC is ready for a rapidly changing UK demographic and broadcast sector in 'Are we fit for the future'. They will talk to Reeta Chakrabarti and a BBC audience about why diversity is central to shaping 'where next' for the corporation.

Connecting with our audience through our output comes from an intrinsic understanding and interest in people's stories, lives and concerns, coupled with an ability to create universal interest and appeal to the widest range of viewers and listeners.

That understanding is born out of empathy, in-depth knowledge and real life experiences. So, naturally, the starting point is how to achieve a diverse workforce. Two of the week's sessions aim to explore how we can overcome challenges to advance careers for those with different perspectives, to affect change from the inside out.

'The Road to 50% women in leadership' and 'Getting on - progressing your career while living with a disability', bring workplace attitudes to the forefront.

Top women

The women in leadership event brings together a panel from across the media industry, including Eleanor Mills, chair of Women in Journalism and editorial director at the Sunday Times, and historian and broadcaster Dr Bettany Hughes.

The launch of the BBC's Elev8 programme last year put in place a mentoring and personal development scheme to help disabled staff to reach their potential. The Getting on discussion will explore how positive attitudes and maximising the opportunities that are being offered at a local level can help to retain our disabled talent. Anne Bulford (director of finance and business and BBC Disability Champion) will introduce the session and Kate Grey (Paralympic athlete and sports reporter) will chair.

Meanwhile the BBC's own Ben Stephenson (controller, drama commissioning) and Channel 4's Stuart Cosgrove (director of creative diversity) join a panel of industry experts to discuss Changing the Face of TV - how do we successfully achieve authentic and accurate portrayal and tell stories that resonate with all audiences.

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We'll hear the voices of young people who may never have considered a career at the BBC and find out the difference they are now making in the organisation. ”

End Quote Amanda Rice

We hope to shine the spotlight on programmes that we have long known our audiences love and on newer content that is bold, fresh and rich in alternative perspectives and ask what it is that we need to do to make more of these great programmes.

Abnormally funny

'Abnormally Funny People' offers a more light-hearted tone on Wednesday evening, delving into disability from both an employment and an on-screen perspective. Three disabled stand-up comedians take an irreverent but thought-provoking look at what is means to be disabled.

Do we feel uncomfortable talking about class in the BBC? Whatever we call it - 'social mobility', 'socio-economic diversity', 'ABCD or Es' - we all know what the issues are.

As we head towards the BBC's centenary - it makes sense to plan for a far more socially diverse organisation, and Cheryl Varley (BBC social mobility executive), will be sharing some great examples of how we are beginning to do that.

'Let's talk about class' on Friday 28 looks at how we can break down barriers that can prevent working class young people from entering or even considering entering the BBC.

We'll hear the voices of young people who may never have considered a career at the BBC and find out the difference they are now making in the organisation. Working with partners such as the Mama Youth Project and our own apprentices we focus clearly on young people - many from disadvantaged backgrounds - to learn from their experiences and work with them to create content that speaks to their peers.

Archbishop's daughter

On Friday February 28, the Royal Television Society and the BBC have invited Baroness Lawrence to talk about her experience of what it is like to be at the centre of the biggest Black British story of the last 20 years, and the lessons that should be learned.

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Baroness Lawrence [will] talk about her experience of what it is like to be at the centre of the biggest Black British story of the last 20 years, and the lessons that should be learned”

End Quote Amanda Rice

Personal stories will also give an insight into reporting on mental health. Sian Williams will be joined by Katherine Welby, daughter of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who will share her experience of being at the heart of a breaking news story following her recent experience of speaking out about depression. We are partnering with Time to Change run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness to present this session.

The final event of the week is a mini lecture on Friday evening, hosted by the BBC's Black and Asian staff forum (BBAF), taking their inspiration from Nelson Mandela.

This is the first of what we hope will be an annual focus on difference and why it matters to a modern BBC. The week-long festival has been produced by the BBC's Diversity Centre working alongside divisional diversity champions to deliver something for everyone, locally as well as in London.

Other sessions and activities include: BBC News & CoJo's: The Challenges of Attracting a Younger Audience; BBC FaB Women's Network's invitation to hear Heather Jackson in person; Open your Mind diversity training in BBC Northern Ireland and complementary events in BBC Scotland.

This promises to be rich, stimulating week, so do join us in person if you can, to add your voice to the debates and gain from the learning. Some sessions will be streamed, and most of the content will be available on-demand via Gateway.

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