Project Diamond is a single online reporting system supported by all major TV broadcasters to measure the diversity of everyone on TV and everyone who makes TV.
It works very simply. If you are involved in any TV show – in front of or behind the camera, in any way at all – you are emailed with a link to a voluntary self-completion questionnaire.
The data generated is then developed into a report every year, but you can also access the information on an ongoing basis by channel or type of programme and by seniority of role.
It isn’t just a snapshot of diversity at one point in time. It isn’t just opinion. It is ongoing live data. In the latest report, there is data from more than 600,000 contributions. This third cut of data shows, for instance, that women represent 52% of appearances on screen and 53% of off-screen contributions, and yet are missing from key senior roles (only 26% of directors). Black, Asian and minority-ethnic people account for 22% of on-screen appearances, yet only 8% of directors. Trans people are represented on screen in line with the population. Disabled people are under-represented on screen and behind the scenes.
The data shows that there is room for improvement and the broadcasters behind the survey don’t hide from the facts. They acknowledge that they are on a journey, but that by measuring data they have taken the first step to real change. Gary Davey, chief executive of Sky Studios, is quoted on the Project Diamond website: "We will only be able to achieve real change armed with comprehensive and reliable data and that is exactly what Diamond is now delivering. The third report makes the information even more powerful with the addition of analysis across production roles and across genres. I am a big fan of Diamond. For the first time we can force the pace of change, based on evidence."
There is no such equivalent data for advertising.
I am a firm believer that only if you measure things can you improve them.
There are very good surveys of on-screen representation in advertising for TV – Channel 4’s Mirror on the Industry study is one of them. Lloyds Banking Group’s report into diversity in advertising, Reflecting Modern Britain?, is another.
There is nothing that looks systematically at who is working behind the scenes and this, too, is crucial as we consider the real diversity in our industry. As the Lloyds study remarks: "65% of respondents said they would feel more favourable about a brand that tries to represent different parts of society." I think this is best achieved by having the right mix of people creating, developing and making the ads – a team who represents all the different parts of society.
Some of us are working on a project to change this. A group of MediaCom advertisers are consulting with industry bodies – the IPA, the Advertising Association, ISBA and Creative Diversity Network (which is the organiser of Project Diamond) – to create a version of this for our industry that would be world-leading. It isn’t easy, but it is very important.
As many commentators have said, fine words and pledges are one thing. Actual change is another. Bobi Carley, head of media at ISBA, said: "We are at an inflection point in society and in our industry. We need actions and a meaningful measurement mechanism to hold people to account. To steal a great phrase I heard this week: ‘We need to measure what we treasure.’"
If you would like to get involved, please email me or get in touch with the industry body that you work with.
Sue Unerman is chief transformation officer at MediaCom
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