BBC announces new disability targets

NBH generic shot The BBC has set new targets to improve the number of disabled people it employs

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The BBC has announced ambitious targets to increase the number of disabled people working at the BBC, both on and off air.

The goals are to quadruple on-air representation by 2017 - rising from its current 1.2% to 5% - and to make the BBC a top employer for people with disabilities.

Currently, 3.7% of staff are registered as disabled, but the aim is to increase this to over 5%. Disabled leadership at the BBC would also rise from 3.1% to 5% under the new plans.

Announcing the new targets, director general Tony Hall said: 'It is vital we reflect the public we serve - both on and off air. While the BBC has some good schemes in place, we must and can do significantly more.'

The plans include appointing a new disability executive to work across the corporation, whether it be on programming and commissioning to providing expertise.

The Extend scheme - which places disabled people on production contracts - will also be given additional resources, providing suitable candidates with a mentor and training, and access to talent, HR and hiring managers for six months.

Nikki Fox, meanwhile, has been appointed the BBC's disability correspondent and took up her job last month. She is part of a team of three broadcast journalists based in Salford who are dedicated to the reporting of disability issues.

Short of target

The announcement comes only two years after the corporation failed to reach the targets it had set itself to improve the number of disabled people at the BBC by 2012.

The number of staff with disabilities fell from 4.6% in 2008 to 3.5% in 2012, less than the target of 5.5%.

Disabled employees at senior manager level (above grade 11) were also down - from 3.4% in 2008 to 3.1% in September 2012. This was significantly short of the 4.5% target.

No BBC division reached the corporate targets that were meant to be reached two years ago, according to the annual equality review.

More minorities

The latest targets are part of a raft of changes that aim to help more minorities find jobs with the broadcaster.

In June, the DG said he wanted to increase the number of people from black, Asian and other ethnic backgrounds (BAME) at the BBC and to boost on-air representation from 10.4% to 15% in the next three years.

Lenny Henry, who has been outspoken about BAME representation in the media, was also appointed part of an independent group to advise the BBC on diversity.

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