Tag Archives: Diversity

CBC announces new programming diversity commitment

From a media release:

At the Banff World Media Festival this morning, CBC announced a new programming diversity commitment to better reflect Canadian audiences and advance equity, inclusion and representation in the Canadian production industry. 

Effective immediately, CBC’s programming diversity commitment will require that at least 30 percent of all key creative roles on new CBC original scripted and unscripted series commissioned from independent producers will be held by those who self-identify as Indigenous, Black and/or People of Colour or persons with disabilities. Each type of series will have a tailored, genre-specific approach to what is considered a key creative role, with details to be posted on cbc.ca/ip. For example, for scripted drama, comedy and kids (live action) series, the 30 percent requirement will apply to all writer, director and principal performer roles. The new commitment will be included in all CBC contracts with independent producers, and will also require that producers of current CBC series set action plans detailing how they will work to increase equity and representation across existing productions. 

“We know we have work to do to better represent the voices and lived experiences of creative talent from Indigenous, Black and all racially diverse communities as well as those with disabilities, all underrepresented groups that are significantly underemployed in the Canadian industry,” said Sally Catto, General Manager, Entertainment, Factual & Sports, CBC. “This new commitment formalizes our ongoing efforts to increase equity and representation across all areas, and is an immediate first step in ensuring that our original series will be led by a more diverse range of creative talent who authentically reflect more communities and perspectives across the country. 

CBC’s new commitment builds on the foundational diversity commitment made by CBC/Radio-Canada at Banff in 2019, with the majority of original series on CBC’s 2021-22 programming slate meeting the first goal, and many already achieving and in some cases exceeding the new 30 percent target including Coroner, Diggstown, The Porter, Pretty Hard Cases, Run the Burbs and Sort Of. CBC will continue to discuss and evolve the new commitment in partnership with the Canadian creative and production industry.

Radio-Canada remains committed to ensuring that at least one of the key creative roles on all of its original French-language scripted and unscripted programming is held by someone from an equity-deserving group by 2025. Beyond that, it is increasing its investments in programs such as Synergies to help build greater capacity for diverse talent within the francophone market. 

CBC/Radio-Canada will also maintain the public broadcaster’s momentum in gender equity, having already surpassed gender parity goals across all commissioned programming. 


Link: Writers Guild of Canada confronts criticism over inclusion: “There’s No Hidden Agenda”

From Etan Vlessing of The Hollywood Reporter:

Link: Writers Guild of Canada confronts criticism over inclusion: “There’s No Hidden Agenda”
After the Writers Guild of Canada took to social media to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement, the Canadian screenwriters union has had to defend its policies on diversity and inclusion. Continue reading. Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

CBC/Radio Canada announces new diversity commitment

From a media release:

At the Banff World Media Festival today, CBC/Radio-Canada announced a new commitment to diversity for all English and French-language commissioned programs across scripted and factual genres. The public broadcaster made this announcement in the context of its new strategic plan, “Your Stories Taken to Heart,” which prioritizes giving underrepresented Canadians greater opportunities to build their skills, experience and relationships in the industry.

By 2025, CBC/Radio-Canada aims to ensure that at least one of the key creatives in all scripted and factual commissioned programs will be held by a person from a diverse background. Key creatives include producer, director, writer, showrunner and lead performer.

In cases where the talent pipeline may not be as robust, the public broadcaster will expect a commitment from independent producers to mentor or train a diverse person in one of the key creative roles of a greenlit production. For the purposes of this commitment, a diverse person includes members of visible minorities, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ2+ community.

This year, CBC/Radio-Canada surpassed its goal of gender parity across its commissioned programs. During the 2018/19 broadcast year across all original English and French shows, the public broadcaster supported 62% female-led projects where the majority of the key creative roles of producer, director, writer and showrunner were held by women.

Read more on diversity and inclusion at CBC/Radio-Canada.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

CBC/Radio-Canada reaffirms commitment to diversity and inclusion with new 2018-21 plan

From a media release:

CBC/Radio-Canada today unveiled its 2018-21 Diversity and Inclusion Plan. The new three-year plan sets out our strategy to better serve all Canadians by reflecting the full range of Canadian perspectives through our content, workplace culture and workforce. The Plan was launched at CBC/Radio-Canada’s Annual Public Meeting in Edmonton, where diversity and inclusion inspired this year’s conversation with Canadians on the importance of public broadcasting in today’s environment.

Building on past efforts and accomplishments, including those resulting from our previous 2015-2018 strategy, the new plan lays out the objectives for the coming years, provides workforce results for all our main business units, and details action plans by major services.

This plan also complements the Diversity and Inclusion section of the career page of our corporate website. Both convey the importance of diversity and inclusion and share the many things we’re doing to make our programming content even more relevant, foster greater inclusiveness in our workplace culture and ensure our workforce fully reflects Canada’s demographics.

About CBC/Radio-Canada
CBC/Radio-Canada is Canada’s national public broadcaster. Through our mandate to inform, enlighten and entertain, we play a central role in strengthening Canadian culture. As Canada’s trusted news source, we offer a uniquely Canadian perspective on news, current affairs and world affairs. Our distinctively homegrown entertainment programming draws audiences from across the country. Deeply rooted in communities, CBC/Radio-Canada offers diverse content in English, French and eight Indigenous languages. We also deliver content in Spanish, Arabic and Chinese, as well as both official languages, through Radio Canada International (RCI). We are leading the transformation to meet the needs of Canadians in a digital world.

Diversity and inclusion fact sheet: Our progress so far
Below are highlights of some of the initiatives that have resulted from our ongoing efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in our content, workplace culture and workforce:


  • CBC North has been serving Canadians across the territories and in Northern Quebec since 1958. It provides radio, television and online services to seven communities (Whitehorse, Yellowknife, Inuvik, Hay River, Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet, Kuujjuaq) in eight Indigenous languages. In addition to offering services on CBC North, our main networks and regional stations also showcase Indigenous news, issues, and culture.
  • Our award-winning Indigenous Unit is both a resource and a catalyst for more coverage across CBC/Radio-Canada. Recently expanded to more communities, it is helping us identify, recruit and develop Indigenous talent. It’s creating programs like Unreserved on CBC Radio, a powerful one-hour platform on our national radio network for Indigenous voices. The Legends Project digitizes traditional oral stories, legends and histories of Canada’s Inuit and First Nations Peoples from communities across the country. Our CBC Indigenous and Radio-Canada’s Espaces autochthones websites are ensuring more Canadians learn more about this country’s legacy and its future.
  • Since December 2017, Radio-Canada makes it compulsory for independent producers who submit a project to present a “diversity inclusion plan” with the objective of improving diversity in all its content.
  • CBC Films (CBC Breaking Barriers Film Fund) is a narrative feature film fund that supports the production of English-language films from filmmakers and creators who bring diverse voices and stories that engage and reflect Canadians on the big and small screens. We look for projects that are written and directed by Canadian women, Indigenous persons, visible minorities, LGBTQ persons and persons with a disability.
  • For the past four years, Radio-Canada has been leading a TV industry working group aimed at increasing cultural diversity in French-language fiction. The group has implemented a series of actions such as the Auditions de la diversité, which provide performance training for actors from visible minority communities. The working group also supports coaching for young scriptwriters and tours high schools, in order to encourage diversity students to pursue careers in TV production.

Workplace culture

  • A number of internal initiatives foster greater inclusiveness in our workplace culture, including:
    • The Developing Emerging Leaders Program equips an annual cohort of 15 diverse employees with insights, tools and strategies to skillfully take their careers to the next level.
    • Employee Resource Groups (bring together employees who share common backgrounds and experiences, and provide mutual support and a greater sense of belonging, ex. women in technology and employees with physical or mental disabilities and their allies.)
    • Both CBC and Radio-Canada offer paid journalism internships to Indigenous recruits with partners such as the First Nations University of Canada, Nunavut Sivuniksavut/Algonquin College and the First Nations Education Council (FNEC). Radio-Canada also collaborates with the Kiuna Institution (the Quebec post-secondary Indigenous college) to offer an initiation to journalism for Indigenous students.
    • Our senior leaders learn about inclusive leadership and unconscious bias. That awareness fosters a culture of inclusiveness—one of our core values. Similar training is provided to other employees across the organization.


  • While our focus is not on targets, we do still monitor to measure our performance and the impact of our initiatives.
    • The new diversity hires (Indigenous Peoples, members of visible minorities, persons with disabilities) result for Q1 2018-2019 of 27.2% exceeded our target of 25.4%. This is our best first quarter result since we started measuring this index in 2015-2016.
    • We are the gender parity leader in the Canadian media industry with 48.9% women employed across CBC/Radio-Canada (+6.1% above the external labour force).
    • We reached our Strategy 2020 goal of 2.1% for Indigenous representation, meeting the external labour force availability and the hiring rate of 3.1% surpassed this goal between April 2017 and March 2018.
    • Between April 2015 and 2018, we saw over 40% increases for both the number of members of visible minorities and persons with disabilities.
  • With a view to increasing the diversity of its News staff, Radio-Canada revamped its hiring process for journalists at the network and regional levels over the last year, and we have removed potential obstacles for diverse candidates in our general knowledge and language proficiency exams.
  • The candidates for the first-ever paid CBC Placements for Persons With Disabilities started in mid-September 2018 and a national launch is being considered if deemed successful.
  • We are the first Canadian media company to add gender and sexual diversity (i.e., LGBTQ+) to its voluntary workforce tracking metrics.


Prime Time in Ottawa – A Little Real Life

Last week the Canadian Media Producers Association put on its annual Prime Time in Ottawa conference.  There was a theme that I felt throughout Prime Time in Ottawa 2018 that I think was intended but was also a little unexpected and I will sum up that theme as ‘Real Life’.  While producers were meeting with potential funders, buyers and broadcasters and attending sessions on how to use data and what’s going on with ‘new’ formats these days, running through the conference was a preoccupation with a few big picture issues which rarely get much attention.  You can check out the hashtag #PTiO and the CMPA’s YouTube channel  for recorded livestreams of four sessions to see if you agree.

The most obvious was gender parity.  Marguerite Pigott, CMPA’s VP of Outreach and Strategic Initiatives and responsible for Prime Time, announced at the beginning of the conference that half the speakers were women and ‘it wasn’t that hard’.  Well, it appears to be for some conferences so that was a welcome start. Women in View presented a glossy ‘Diversity Toolkit’ aimed at getting more women hired in front of and behind the camera.  It is inclusive of women of colour but the priority is gender parity.  While that work clearly needs to be done, the Toolkit reflects a use of the word ‘diversity’ that I find problematic.  When people conflate gender parity with diversity then other forms of diversity (visible minorities, ability, neuro-diversity, income, education, gender orientation etc.) are swept under the rug.  I would have liked that report to spark a conversation about how the Canadian media industry does not do a good job of reflecting the full diversity of its audience in front of or behind the camera and then a discussion of ways to improve that.  That’s my Real Life.  [Full disclosure – I authored a Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit for Interactive Ontario and earned a Certificate in Leadership in Inclusion from Centennial College so I love the big discussions about how to improve diversity and inclusion.]

The panel on Underserved Audiences: Finding a Market could have touched on diversity but didn’t really. What it did highlight was how OTT can help broadcasters and producers aggregate underserved audiences and find larger audiences for what mainstream broadcasters might consider ‘niche’ content.  I was fascinated to hear Brad Danks of OutTV talk about the channel becoming viable now that they can go over the top and aggregate LGBTQ audiences from around the world.  It was depressing to hear Lisa Meeches of Eagle Vision talk about major broadcasters turning them down for “We Were Children”, a documentary about the residential school system, which at the time limited their audience to APTN.  Now, however, it is finding a much bigger audience and a lot of success on Netflix.   However, there was little discussion about how storytellers from these less mainstream audiences could get their content funded when the main gatekeepers are still the mainstream broadcasters.  As Netflix made clear in their fireside chat, they do not develop but rely on mainstream broadcasters to do that work and then they’ll partner on production.  Underserved storytellers were encouraged to create content themselves and prove their audience exists using YouTube and similar platforms but that is still requiring them to jump an additional hurdle that mainstream storytellers don’t have to do – ‘prove there’s an audience and then maybe we’ll license it’.  For example, if the industry continues to ignore the 22% of Canadians who self-identify as visible minorities (much higher in Canada’s urban centres) and the stories that they want to see, they will increasingly turn away from the broadcast system and find their entertainment on YouTube.  Real Life.

Another big topic was Harassment, which I’m sure that we can all agree was very timely.  It was my favourite session as PrimeTime invited accomplished women from other sectors who have a great deal of experience with the topic to come talk to and engage with us.  It was a great opportunity to learn how institutions as patriarchal as the military and the Senate were trying to change their cultures.  Both Senator Marilou McPhedran and Rear Admiral Jennifer Bennett broadened the conversation beyond sexual harassment to what they see is an abuse of power and authority against vulnerable people – which in many cases but not all are women.  They encouraged the industry to keep shining a light on the issues and keep the conversation going while trying to fix the culture which allows such abuses to happen within the industry.  [As the mother of a young woman who was screamed at by an A.D. for fumbling a pizza order while on an unpaid internship, I concur with everything they said.]  McPhedran and Bennett also provided very specific advice for next steps: provide not only someone to complain to but someone who can provide advice, don’t just look at complaints but try to fix the culture that gives rise to them, build your own plan for long term change and don’t get distracted by quick fixes.   Real Life.

The other Real Life theme I’ll call generational change.  Media leaders in Canada are getting older and there were three tributes that marked the passage of time.  Jay Switzer, co-founder of Hollywood Suite and former CHUM CEO, died from brain cancer at the age of 61.  Bob Crowe, Saskatchewan producer and CMPA board member died of a heart attack at 62.   Carolle Brabant retired after eight years as Executive Director of Telefilm Canada.  While both Switzer and Crowe’s passings were unexpected and early, along with Brabant they mark the passage of time and the evolution of the industry and for me raised the question – where are the next generation of media leaders?  Some organizations are planning for it, bringing up young producers, programmers, administrators but others seem to be waiting to deal with it when forced to.  This would be a worthwhile conversation to have as we discuss OTT services, using data and ‘new’ formats because I suspect the next generation of leaders will also have some new ideas about how to do business and reach audiences.

There were other good moments at PrimeTime 2018 (another great opening speech from Reynolds Mastin, Jesse Wente’s first speech as Director of the Indigenous Screen Office, a very detailed explanation of the FairPlay proposal by lawyer Barry Sookman) but this theme of the impact of Real Life on the Canadian media industry and how well we’re dealing with it, is what I’m taking away with me this year.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail