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APPG report of its July meeting

27 July 2018

On the 16th July the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Disability held its AGM combined with a meeting on the representation of disabled people in the media.

New Officers were elected to the group, including Thangam Debbonaire MP, Stephen Lloyd MP, Jim Shannon MP and several others. We look forward to the contributions they will make. 

Our speakers then made four excellent presentations covering disability both on- and off-screen in the media industry. The minutes of the meeting, which also include the Officers elected, can be found here

Of the meeting, the speakers said:

Mike Ford, Programme Director at the BBC: The BBC’s commitment to inclusivity and accessibility for disabled people both on screen and off is a key part of our diversity strategy.  We have a workforce where over one in ten people say they have a disability and the BBC already has a large number of initiatives and processes in place to help disabled staff apply and develop their skills and talents. We’ve doubled the number of places on ELEV8, our mentoring scheme and have developed a new disability awareness training package for managers and staff.  But we want to do more. It was a pleasure to join creative industry representatives at the Disability All Party Parliamentary group, sharing ideas and initiatives, and talking about the BBC’s current work on culture and staff progression to ensure that employees with disabilities can do their best work without any barriers. I look forward to sharing our recommendations to the group once they are finalised later this summer. 

Abbi Brown, Account Executive at AMV BBDO: The APPG for Disability meeting on 16th July was a fantastic opportunity to hear from broadcasters and media owners about their own priorities and initiatives around increasing representation of disability in the media, and to explain how and why the Maltesers ‘Look on the Light Side of Disability’ adverts were such a success. One thing I really appreciated was how, despite the differences in our backgrounds, industries and reasons for attending the meeting, I felt the full group was entirely aligned on the importance of authenticity in representation. It’s not enough just to see disabled people on our screens; we need to hear their voices and believe in their stories. It was great to hear Omnicom’s own belief in this reflected by the wider media and disability communities, and I hope that’s an ambition we can all continue to work towards in the future. 

Angela Chan, Head of Creative Diversity at Channel 4: Channel 4 were delighted to be asked to speak about our work with representation of disabled people and disability on screen. We spoke about how we find and nurture talent and how we use the Paralympics to change public perception. It was also fascinating to hear about the work others are doing at the BBC, the FT and of course the previous winners of our £1million airtime prize AMV BBDO and Maltesers. If ever there was a commercial argument for building diversity into your business this was it. We welcomed the views, questions and challenges put to us by the very engaged group at the APPG and will be reflecting on these as we put plans in place for 2019 and 2020.  

Jacqui Dobson, Global Head of Advertising at the Financial Times: I found the it hugely inspirational to hear from such experienced speakers and very heartening to hear that although we may be at slightly different stages we are all on a very similar journey. It was great to hear about the wonderful work happening at Channel 4 and BBC, I've long been an admirer of the work they are doing around all areas of diversity and inclusion. Abigail from Omincom brought to our attention some real positive outcomes resulting from advertising campaigns featuring people with disabilities. Great heartening examples of the power of advertising! Our mission statement states that we believe that discrimination/exclusion based on disability represents a waste of talent and a denial of opportunity for both the company and individuals - I think now we should add "and for the economy!". I feel truly humbled by the tireless and dedicated work that DRUK perform daily to bring the issues faced by disabled people to the public attention. An amazing job done by some of the most resilient, honourable people I've ever met.