The UK Film Council and its cultural diversity working group under Working Title Films co-chief Tim Bevan have launched a series of proposals aimed at increasing diversity within the UK film industry workforce.

Proposals in a paper called Success Through Diversity And Inclusion include a new code of practice and schemes to open up access such as bursaries and summer schools. The group has also targeted future fiscal policy and new co-production treaties as ways of making the workforce more inclusive.

"One of the UK's most distinctive and valued assets is its multiculturalism, and from my perspective as a producer this offers film a real opportunity in developing creative potential," said Bevan. "Success Through Diversity And Inclusion includes proposals to open up the film industry to the widest pool of talent and to ensure that all sections of the community can have access to a broad range of films."

The council itself is to incorporate targets on equal opportunities into each of its funding agreements, including production and development, along with partners such as the British Film Institute (BFI) and national and regional screen agencies.

"The UK Film Council is 100% committed to driving forward the diversity agenda and making real progress - both within our own organisation and across the whole of the sector," Bevan said. "But everyone in film has to play their part; we can only make progress by working together."

Although nine per cent of the UK are from ethnic minorities, they make up only 1.6% of the film and video production workforce, the council said. Women only account for 10% of camera people and 8% of lighting technicians. An analysis carried out by the BFI found that of 350 films made in the UK, only 8 were directed by women.

The proportion of disabled employees in the audiovisual industry has remained unchanged since 2001 at 0.8% - well below the national average of disabled people in the workforce.

Marcia Williams, the council's head of diversity, drew up the strategy in consultation with a cross-section of film sector and community groups. "In addition to the principle of giving people equality of opportunity, there are sound business reasons for encouraging greater participation from all our communities in the UK's film industry," she said. "Studies have shown that there is a direct link between good diversity policies and improved performance of organisations. Diversity is a catalyst for creativity and innovation and it's vital that such a highly competitive industry makes the most of the talent available across all sections of the population."

Films minister Estelle Morris added: "Art holds up a mirror to reality. That's why this strategy is so important - because the film industry should fully reflect the rich diversity of our culture, both in front of and behind the camera. It must be open to every section of society. I look to the wider industry to follow the UK Film Council's lead."