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IBC ‘must employ diversity levy’

BBC Worldwide’s operations director Lesley Johnson has called for IBC to impose a tax on the major IBC exhibitors to fund an educational programme that encourages more females to take up roles in the industry.

During Sunday morning’s ‘Women in Broadcast’ session, the former journalist called for the industry to educate the educators at a grass roots level in order to raise the visibility of careers in science and engineering among young women, as the US is doing with initiatives like the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) programme.

“Look at how much money there is sloshing around in the halls. IBC could help by imposing a 0.5 % levy on all the major exhibitors to fund education tools that can be used to inspire 11-13 year old schoolgirls to study IT, science and engineering,” she said. This isn’t the first time that Johnson has been vocal on diversity issues at the exhibition: last year she criticised IBC for not having a diversity policy and vendors for deploying scantily dressed women to attract visitors to stands. This year, she added, Females in the Broadcasting Industry (FBI) has worked with IBC on guidance about appropriate dress on stands. “I’m starting to see the difference,” Johnson noted.

Ultimately the session concluded that it’s just bad business for companies not to address diversity in the halls. Tilly Casson, a systems architect specialist from GSTQ consulting, who is here on behalf of a big OTT client, told the panel that not one person from any of the stands she visited approached her to ask why she was there. “It was so blatant that I was interested in the product, yet I still had to make that first approach: it’s soul destroying.”

The panel, which also included Molly Connolly, a strategist at Dell’s entertainment arm and Emma Riley, head of business development at UK-studio facility dock10, added that the show exhibitors as well as IBC as an organisation could address diversity in the short term by employing more female sales and marking staff or by mixing things up on the stands.

As FBI chair and industry PR supremo Sadie Groom added: “It would be refreshing to see more male receptionists or female camera ops – and it can’t be only women that are capable of scanning badge passes.”