BBC’s ‘straight ally’ badges to make gay staff comfortable
Bosses want to tackle ‘heteronormative’ culture
THE BBC is encouraging staff to become ‘straight allies’ of colleagues who are gay, lesbian or have other gender identities.
The move is an attempt to tackle what it calls a ‘heteronormative culture’, in which being straight is considered the norm.
To shift the balance, staff who are heterosexual but ‘actively promote’ LGBT issues will wear pin badges or use email signatures to signify that they are ‘allies’ of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender colleagues.
as it strives to become more inclusive, the broadcaster will also adopt the acronym LgbTQ+ to reflect how ‘sexual orientation and gender identity blur beyond the L, g, b or T’.
LgbTQ+ stands for ‘lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning’, with the plus sign including other sexualities, such as gender fluid, while ‘questioning’ represents those who are exploring their sexuality.
So-called ‘non-binary pronouns’ – for example, referring to someone as ‘they’ instead of ‘he’ or ‘she’ – will also be used by staff. non-binary people who do not conform to male or female sexless uality often prefer to be called ‘they’.
The BBC said it was taking action over fears that its ‘heteronormative culture’ left LGBT workers feeling unsupported – one of a number of concerns raised by LGBT staff, who make up 11 per cent of the workforce.
in a report, the BBC said: ‘Straight allies have been key to advancing fair treatment of their lesbian, gay and bisexual staff in other companies.
‘Their involvement, because they’re not LGBT themselves, has had a transformative effect on the culture of the organisation.’ The BBC’s training for employees on diversity, inclusion and unconscious bias will also include an LGBT section, and it will also review ‘systems and practices to ensure they are inclusive of non-binary genders’.
its on-air portrayal of LGBT people will also be reviewed regularly to ensure that the ‘full range of fluid sexual orientations and gender identities are represented’.
The profile of LGBT staff will be raised to provide role models, and a system of LGBT mentors will guide senior lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender staff. Training will be provided and systems put in place to support transgender staff, particularly when transitioning.
BBC bosses say they have acted to ensure they retain and attract the best LGBT talent and to appeal to a younger audience as a broadcaster.
James Purnell, the broadcaster’s director of radio and education, said: ‘One of our big challenges is around young audiences.
‘in a recent Yougov survey only 51 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds said they identified as completely heterosexual.
‘an organisation that appears to have a heteronormative culture is not one that is going to cut ice with them either as a consumer or an employee.’
a survey of 300 LGBT staff at the BBC also revealed concerns that gay men were the most visible members of the LGBT community there, creating a need for more visible LGBT leaders.
Karen Millington and Matt Weaver, chairmen of Pride at the BBC, said: ‘We hope this makes everyone feel included, whether genderqueer, bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, nonbinary, pansexual, intersex, asexual, queer, questioning or an ally.’