Baroness Oona King to chair event at BAFTA, speakers include Danny Cohen, Ben Roberts, Bettany Hughes, Lenny Henry, Pat Younge, Damian Jones.

Screen International and sister publication Broadcast, in collaboration with Creative Skillset and FilmLondon, are to host a one-day forum aimed at improving diversity in the UK film and TV industries.

Diversify, a free one-day event at BAFTA on November 13, chaired by C4 diversity executive and BFI board member Baroness Oona King, will bring together leading film and TV industry professionals, policymakers, on-screen talent and pressure groups to tackle a range of topics including on screen portrayal, women in film and TV, the extent to which the industries are a closed shop and the loss of black talent to the US (in a panel co-hosted with the Royal Television Society).

In addition, there will be panels addressing practical ways to improve diversity both in front of and behind the camera and an ask the experts session.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Danny Cohen, director, BBC Television
  • Lorraine Heggessey, chair, Boom Pictures
  • Lenny Henry, actor
  • Ben Roberts, director, BFI Film Fund
  • Damian Jones, producer
  • Elizabeth Karlsen, producer and chair, Women and Film and TV
  • Sally El Hosaini, director
  • Bettany Hughes, historian and broadcaster
  • Deborah Sathe, Film London head of talent development and production
  • Kate O’Connor, deputy CEO, Skillset
  • Pat Younge, chief creative officer, BBC
  • Amma Asante, director
  • Femi Oguns, CEO, Identity Drama School and Identity Agency Group
  • Derren Lawford, commissioning executive, London Live
  • Penny Woolcock, director
  • Justin Edgar, co-founder 104 Films
  • Kwame Kwei-Armah, actor
  • Donna Taberer, head of public services partnerships, BBC Academy
  • Anna Higgs, commissioning executive, Film4.0
  • Rioch Edwards Brown, founder, So You Wanna Be In TV?
  • Gurinder Chadha, director
  • Simone Pennant, The TV Collective.

Additional panelists will be confirmed in the coming days.

Geography, age, sex, sexuality, class and race all still have a disproportionate bearing on influence and employment in the film and TV industries, both in front of and behind the camera.

Diversify will gather stakeholders at the heart of the industry to consider and improve the current landscape.

“This event will be one of the most significant of its type and is a must-attend for anyone concerned with equality in the workplace,” said Baroness Oona King.

This summer Creative Skillset’s eighth Employment Census revealed a troubling decline in the number of people from ethnic minority backgrounds working in the creative industries.

The film industry saw BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic people) representation decline in all three sub-sectors of production, distribution and exhibition between 2009-12.

BAME representation in film production dropped from 12% in 2009 to 5.3% in 2012.

The report highlighted an increase in the number of women in the creative industries in recent years but revealed that women still only account for 36% of the permanent workforce.

The latest British Film Institute statistical yearbook, published this year, revealed that UK women writers declined from 18.9% of total writers in 2011 to 13.4% (25 writers) in 2012.

The picture for women directors was bleaker, with men accounting for 92.2% of directors on UK films in 2012, an increase of more than 7% year-on-year. This translates to 165 male directors in 2012 compared to 14 women directors.

Screen International editor Wendy Mitchell commented: “Diversity in the UK film industry is a topic Screen has tackled in stories and roundtable discussions in previous years, but now seems like the perfect time to delve deeper into the deficit both on screen and behind the camera.

“We were saddened to read the recent Skillset data that diversity is slipping in some areas in the UK, and that’s what spurred us to take action with our sister publication Broadcast to bring the experts together to talk about the current issues and how we can create a brighter future with more equality for all people from all backgrounds to work in the booming British film industry.”

Broadcast editor Lisa Campbell added: “Following the success of Broadcast’s ongoing Expert Women campaign, which has helped raise awareness of the gender imbalance and seen new training initiatives, we wanted to expand its remit to other under-represented groups.

We want to work with the industry to give more people a chance to succeed and to broaden the talent base and range of ideas, benefiting both businesses and viewers alike.”

The announcement of the forum comes one week after a number of high profile developments in the diversity debate, with Homeland star David Harewood warning that the UK is losing black actors to the US because of a lack of strong roles and the French film industry and government signing a sex equality charter aimed at ensuring equal pay for women, an end to gender stereotypes and 50:50 female to male ratios on festival and funding commissions.

To register interest in tickets please email