By Chloe Gilson
Sonny Hanley, controller of ITV content services, attended Leeds Trinity University this week to discuss Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the Media.
Hanley shared his experience getting his foot into the industry door and how he has seen a considerable change in diversity at ITV since the arrival of the new CEO and the appointment of a new diversity director.
“I was slightly sceptical as I’ve been under three CEO’s, each one said diversity was high on their agenda and nothing materialised”.
According to Hanley, ITV’s Diversity Acceleration Plan has generated the first major movement for the organisation.
That plan was created by ITV’s CEO, Carolyn McCall with the intention to diversify the currently “Male, Pale and Stale” image that he described as ITV’s workforce.
While preoccupations delayed the process, ITV were still proactive in creating staff networks within the company that were inclusive for workers of BAME, LGBTQ+ and disability categories, as well as working families and a women’s network to kickstart the inclusivity movement.
Carolyn McCall is the first female CEO that ITV has had, and he said she is “already changing the makeup” within the workforce.
For example, she appointed Ade Rawcliffe as group director of diversity for ITV, resulting in yet another female role becoming a staple part of ITV’s internal workforce.
He then went on to link these appointments to changes in on-stream content – for example, the addition of a black family on classic British soap Coronation Street.
He welcomed having a female director of colour on the board as it’s a great step toward achieving diversity in the future and a “catalyst for changing the diversity make-up of the company”.
Although it might appear to be an initiative drawn from the Black Lives Matter movement, he assured the audience that it was in fact a three-year plan that was devised in 2017.
This was a statement Hanley put a considerable amount of emphasis on so as not to distract from the key aims of the plan, which was to provide opportunities for more than just people of colour.
“It feels massive, it warms my heart, and I don’t take for granted what I’ve accomplished throughout this process.
“I wish I had someone like me when I was coming through, but I didn’t, so in a sense I’m doing what I can to help the next generation, because they are going to be the ones who make the real change”.