BBC staff criticise corporation over ‘all-white’ board after Kamal Ahmed was made redundant

Craig SimpsonThu, 18 February 2021, 6:22 pm

Staff have praised Mr Ahmed's work 
Staff have praised Mr Ahmed’s work

BBC bosses have been accused of disregarding diversity by staff following the creation of an “all-white” leadership board after Kamal Ahmed was made redundant.

The corporation faced a backlash from MPs after making its most senior BAME news executive redundant and appointing a board with no minority representation in contravention of its own rules on diversity.

Employees have now questioned whether it was “appropriate to have an all-white” board in 2021, and stated that the new panel “does not reflect modern British society and the audiences it exists to serve”.

In a letter to director-general Tim Davie and news director Fran Unsworth staff expressed their own “discomfort” at the departure of Mr Ahmed from the senior leadership team, which was reduced from 11 to eight members.

Signatories claimed that dropping the editorial director, whose position was made redundant, “symbolises that the organisation remains structurally uncommitted to diversity and inclusion”.

Staff argued that Mr Ahmed, who led the BBC’s response to the Black Lives Matter movement, took a leadership role on issues of diversity and modernisation, and that: “For many he has become the only accessible figure in management”.

It was stated that after the BBC has pledged to increase diversity in its workforce – for which it has promised an investment of £100 million – minority staff now feel they do not have representation at the highest levels of the BBC.

The letter said: “The BBC has pledged to increase diversity across the organisation, including two people from black, Asian, and minority ethnic backgrounds on every senior leadership group.

“We are concerned that our voices are no longer represented in editorial. As the nation’s leading newsroom, we expect the BBC to set the industry standard.”

It was also claimed that: “It cannot be understated the impact Kamal Ahmed had on championing diversity in news in its broadest sense encompassing class, sexuality, geography and disability “

Staff have called on the BBC’s director-general to ensure that representation of minority groups is maintained in key positions at the corporation, and is seeking “We seek reassurances as to how the organisation intends to continue the work Kamal Ahmed has done and hsi future at the corporation.”