#DM16: Union calls for equality & diversity
Arjum Wajid, NEC member - © Paul Herrmann
Natasha Wright, Leeds branch - © Paul Herrmann
Leoni Robertson, BBC London branch - © Paul Herrmann
16 April 2016
At the start of the second day of debates at NUJ Delegate Meeting (DM), the conference debated equality and diversity in the media industry.
Debbie Cavalaldoro moved the DM equality report and thanked Lena Calvert for her "remarkable support" for the equality council over the years. Gary McFarlane moved the Black members DM report and highlighted the most recent Claudia Jones memorial lecture that celebrated the 100th anniversary of Claudia Jones' birth. The event's guest speaker was former BBC journalist Clive Lewis MP.
Watch the Claudia Jones Memorial Lecture video.
Ann Galpin moved the disabled members report and Roy Jones spoke on behalf of the 60+ report. Access the full DM report online.
Arjum Wajid proposed motion 56 on behalf of the national executive council (NEC), highlighting the lack of diversity in the media industry. The motion states that the 2013 NCTJ Journalist at Work report shows 94 per cent of all UK journalists are white, a Department of Culture, Media and Sport report revealed that fewer than 9 per cent of the 260,000 people working in the sector were from the BME community. The statistics show that class and race have a major impact on individual's chances of gaining employment in the media industry. Gary McFarlane also spoke to the motion and said: "strong unions that fight for equality are key to getting more ethnic minorities into the media industry."
Motion 56 instructed the NEC, Black members council and the equality council to promote diverse role models in the media and to put pressure on regulatory bodies to monitor equality in employment. Conference also agreed to promote the NUJ's George Viner Memorial Fund which helps working class BME students get a foothold in training for the industry.
Phil Morcom spoke to motion 57 proposed by the PR industrial council and conference agreed to build alliances with industry bodies and related organisations such as the Society of Authors and the Publishers Association and Livability in order to "share knowledge, resources and tools to advocate for diversity and equality". Natasha Wright from the Leeds branch seconded the motion and highlighted the "distinct lack of diversity in the PR industry".
Leoni Robertson spoke on motion 58 relating to the lack of BME managers employed at the BBC. She said: "if the BBC wants to embrace diversity they need diversity at the top" and "the BBC should be leading the way". Stuart Seaman added that he had been working for the BBC for 25 years and said "there has never been a BME senior manager in my area at work".
Motion 59 is about the sexist abuse of female technology journalists, Catherine Adams from the Nottingham branch talked about her survey of 100 female technology journalists saying they are on the "frontline in the struggle for gender equality". The abuse of women journalists takes place online, offline and in the workplace. The survey results revealed 60 per cent of respondents had experienced abuse and 40 per cent of respondents has changed their working practices as a result. Catherine said: "it is time to fight back". Donnacha DeLong said online abuse was a "massive problem" that affects women journalists across the industry. Donnacha and Jen Stout both spoke about NUJ member Angela Haggerty who challenged online abuse and won a court case in Scotland.
Motion 60 agreed to campaign on access to work schemes. In her speech in favour of the motion, Ann Galpin, said: "the government is bashing disabled people" and Louise Bolotin also supporting the motion said that the "support systems are being taken away" from disabled people. David Wilkins, a first time delegate, said: "as you can see I am totally blind and partially deaf", he urged delegates to support the motion adding "access to work is bad enough but cuts will make it worse". The motion called on the NEC to engage with the Federation of Entertainment Unions to campaign against the cuts that affect disabled workers in the media industry.
Bob Norris spoke on motion 62 saying he was attending his 49th NUJ delegate meeting and had attended "every DM since 1962 so no wonder I got DM-dementia". He argued that "for journalists memory is their most precious asset" and dementia is often a "hidden illness". Bob said this was the first motion ever about dementia and called on conference to make this a "principled campaign". Ann Coltart also supported the motion and said: "society and journalism in general have a lot of lessons to learn" on this issue. Conference agreed to motion that instructed the union to lobby the UK and Irish governments for changes in policy and legislation to bring about earlier diagnosis and more effective treatment of dementia.