BBC quits Stonewall diversity scheme over impartiality concerns

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Broadcaster joins other bodies in exiting programme but will continue to work with LGBTQ+ charity on relevant projects

BBC quits Stonewall diversity scheme over impartiality concerns

The BBC has pulled out of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions Programme, saying its participation raised questions over impartiality on issues such as trans rights.

The corporation joins Ofcom, the Cabinet Office and the Equality and Human Rights Commission in quitting the scheme, which offers employers advice on how to ensure LGBTQ+ staff are free to be themselves in the workplace. 

Stonewall said it was disappointed by the decision.

The BBC said in a statement: “The BBC is fully committed to being an industry leading employer on LGBTQ+ inclusion. We are proud of our lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans colleagues, and we support them to have fulfilling careers at the BBC.

“Along with many other UK employers, the BBC has participated in Stonewall’s Diversity Champions Programme to support our objective to create a fully inclusive workplace. However, over time our participation in the programme has led some to question whether the BBC can be impartial when reporting on public policy debates where Stonewall is taking an active role. ADVERTISING

“After careful consideration, we believe it is time to step back from the Diversity Champions Programme and will also no longer participate in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index.

‘We will continue to engage with the BBC on a number of fronts’

“Being a part of the Diversity Champions Programme has never required the BBC to support the campaigns of Stonewall, nor its policy positions. As a broadcaster, we have our own values and editorial standards – these are clearly set out and published in our editorial guidelines. Our journalists continue, as ever, to report a full range of perspectives on stories.

“Although the BBC will not be renewing its participation in the Diversity Champions Programme, in the future we will continue to work with a range of external organisations, including Stonewall, on relevant projects to support our LGBTQ+ staff.”

Critics of the programme have claimed it is ignoring the concerns of women by promoting the opening up of previously women-only spaces to those who self-identify as female.

Stonewall said in response to the BBC statement: “It’s a shame that the BBC has decided not to renew their membership of our Diversity Champions programme. But as with all membership programmes, organisations come and go depending on what’s best for their inclusion journey at the time.

“We will continue to engage with the BBC on a number of fronts to champion support for LGBTQ+ colleagues and to represent our communities through their reporting.

“This news comes in the wake of organised attacks on workplace inclusion that extend far beyond the Diversity Champions programme. It is shocking that organisations are being pressured into rolling back support for LGBTQ+ employees.”

The BBC’s decision comes shortly after an investigation by Stephen Nolan, one of its reporters, claimed some staff were concerned about the corporation’s alignment with Stonewall but too “frightened” to air those concerns.

His podcast, Nolan Investigates: Stonewall, suggested that the charity was a “lobby group” and its relationship with the BBC and other organisations should be under greater scrutiny.

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