The BBC has launched a £750,000 project to ringfence senior management jobs for candidates from ethnic minorities and disabled applicants after a series of attacks on the corporation for its overwhelmingly white workforce.
Over the next three years, 90 people will join a new mentoring and development programme designed to nurture the potential of those from minority backgrounds, according to BBC in-house magazine Ariel.
The “positive action” will include ringfencing half the 30 places a year at senior management level for candidates from ethnic minorities and six a year reserved for disabled applicants.
Comedian Lenny Henry and non-executive BBC director Samir Shah had criticised the corporation after figures revealed a shortfall of ethnic minorities at senior level, lower than the 2003 figure of 5 per cent.
Most recently, BBC weekend business correspondent Barnie Choudhury called on the broadcasting industry to stop being defensive about accusations of racism.
He denied the BBC was “institutionally racist” but called on the culture minister to launch an independent inquiry into alleged racism in broadcasting because, he said as a journalist he would need proof that the accusations were true.
Speaking at the launch of a new book, Diversity in the Media, Choudhury called on the BBC to lead an “honest debate” about the issue. He also asked black and Asian employees to not allow themselves “to become victims”.