An Indian-origin former high-ranking executive of the BBC has called for the Corporation to set more “ambitious” targets for employing executives from black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.
Seetha Kumar, the Chief Executive of Creative Skillset, told Radio 4’s Media Show that it was “critical” for the targets to be set before the introduction of a new royal charter for the BBC.
“Why is it after so many years we still do not have a person from a BAME [background] who is part of the executive board? I don’t mean non-executive directors, and no one from a position of what I call real power or authority in terms of a [channel] controller or genre commissioner”, she said.
Ms Kumar who worked for the BBC between 1996 and 2000 in various senior roles, also said that she supported setting targets for BAME representation.
“I think targets are a good thing. Why can’t the BBC truly set the bar to represent the nation? It is an aspiration and it is important. I think it could be a good thing to do [to have targets in the charter]. It does feel appropriate and timely when talking about the charter … to ask what we need to do to truly reflect our nation. The BBC represents the bar. In the industry overall there is recognition we do need to effect systemic change. That is why this conversation tomorrow is really important.”
In March, it was revealed that the BBC is struggling to meet its own targets on increasing the diversity of its workforce, with just 12.2% coming from a BAME background.
A statement from the BBC said: “We have already set ourselves stretching diversity targets and are making good progress towards them. We are proud the proportion of black, Asian and other ethnic minorities in our workforce is at an all-time high of 13.1% and BBC leaders from these backgrounds has increased from 6.1% in 2011 to 9.2% in 2015.”