Diversity and Inclusion Manifesto

Diversity and Inclusion Manifesto

Here you will find our diversity targets and how we report on them, the resources we use to source diverse, professional talent and the schemes and initiatives we have in place to try and make the industry a more inclusive place to work.

Zai Bennett, Sky's Managing Director of Content, comments:

‘Ensuring Sky represents a diverse, modern Britain is at the heart of what we do and something that we will continue to champion.

We recognise that certain groups are underrepresented, and as a company, are committed to providing opportunities for those of all ages, gender, race, disability, or sexuality, both on screen and behind the scenes.

Sky has an important role to play in supporting the industry and to reach our vision for inclusion, we need help from the production companies we work with.

In light of this, we are rolling out our Diversity and Inclusion Manifesto, which outlines our diversity targets and our reporting process, as well as the resources Sky and production companies can use to source diverse and expert talent. As part of this, we also highlight various initiatives we engage with that endeavour to make the entertainment landscape a more accessible place to work.

Production companies will be given subscriptions to major diverse talent databases, as well as resource lists detailing the most up to date schemes. They will have access to talent pools from the likes of Mama Youth, Film London: Equal Access Network and TriForce Network: Dandi.

This approach and our targets are applicable to all of our Sky Original productions and it is a collective responsibility for Sky and our production partners, to ensure these are met and upheld.

Diversity and inclusion need to be a priority and part of the initial thinking from the start of every production. To ensure progress is being made, there will be six key check points at which Sky will expect a production to report on their current commitment to our targets and the support they will provide the talent brought into their teams.

This is a collaboration and a partnership and having open and frequent conversations will allow for positive change to happen.’

Diversity Targets

Sky recognises that certain groups of people are underrepresented in the industry and has set the following targets to offer the business clear focus areas that can be measured and tracked.

Mission Statement

Sky’s ambition is to ensure that the TV industry’s next network of leaders truly reflects a diverse, modern Britain.

Our commitment to diversity does not stop with getting a foot in the door. We pledge to nurture and develop underrepresented talent by providing proper mentorship to ensure clear career progression and networking opportunities.

We will ensure that diverse talent is not only represented at a junior or mid-level but commit to meaningful industry change by guaranteeing that those at the most senior decision-making level come from all backgrounds.

We will adhere to a collaborative, not didactic approach. We aim to support and enable production companies to meet our targets, and we want to open a dialogue with the diverse talent currently working in TV. We will provide more cross-business discussion forums, encouraging a discursive approach to this subject which requires a long-term solution.

Resources for Sourcing Diverse Talent

To help resource diverse talent, we have partnered with three great organisations willing to source and shortlist candidates based on our production needs, both on and off-screen.

Schemes & Initiatives

Outlined below are the schemes and initiatives that we have in place working to improve diversity & inclusion across commissioning.

MAMA Youth Programme is a Sky supported charity that recruits, trains, and nurtures young people between 18-25 years of age from under-represented groups or with limited educational or employment opportunities. The programme runs twice a year for 14 weeks, and each cohort takes on 28 students. The BBC supports one programme per year, and Sky funds the other. Four to six week paid placements are then found in the industry for each young person with Sky or Endemol Shine (for the Sky funded programme) and the BBC or Procam (for the BBC funded programme). Sky houses Mama Youth at their Osterley Campus. Sky supports Mama Youth’s ambition to become a sustainable business and has funded development with Licklemore, Mama Youth Project’s founder, Bob Clarke’s independent production company. Licklemore has partnered with CPL productions to work on Sky developments with a budget of £80,000 per year.

Sky Breakthrough supports four disabled candidates to work for fourteen weeks in paid placements across Sky’s original drama commissions in off-screen roles. The initiative started in 2018 and develops talent, addresses the lack of disabled representation in the industry and supports both candidates and production teams in working together. The scheme intends to launch the careers for each candidate in their chosen department.

Sky Table Reads is a monthly event launched, led by Sky Drama, which spotlights writers from BAME backgrounds and provides an opportunity for casting directors to introduce diverse acting talent to producers and executives. Sky designed the programme to give emerging BAME writers exposure and the chance to hear their script in front of a live audience. Sky’s ambition is that scripts will be picked up and taken into development, and writers and actors will be offered work in the industry following the exposure.

Sky Studios & Young Vic Theatre have partnered to commission three writers to write a for stage and screen: a draft pilot for a television series and a draft full-length stage play. The scheme supports writers in developing imaginative and powerful story ideas that are rich enough to inspire two different tellings and actively encourages writers to think through how the narrative potential of one medium might tap into story possibilities for the other.

Sky Writes created by Sky in partnership with New Writing North, a new talent initiative designed to identify and nurture television writers from under-represented groups and under-served geographical areas in the North of England. The project links grassroots developmental opportunities with a structured professional development programme for writers identified as having potential. The project will focus on drama and comedy writing.

Box Of Tricks and Sky Studios' Innovation Hub based in Manchester and Leeds, respectively, teamed up to launch a Screen/Play Award, a ground-breaking initiative to unearth exceptional writers from the North of England. The Screen/Play Award will offer two writers, with no TV writing experience, a bursary to write a new play for Box of Tricks and open doors to the world of screenwriting by forging a development partnership with Sky Studios throughout 2021. Intending to increase representation and opportunity, both now and in the future, the Screen/Play Award is open to Northern writers, aged over 18, with no professional TV experience from the following communities: D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent writers, LGBTQ+ writers, writers of colour, firstgeneration migrant writers and writers from a low socio-economic background.

New Writing Partnership, Sky, National Theatre of Wales and Bad Wolf supports writers to develop imaginative and powerful story ideas that are fresh, distinctive, and rich enough to inspire two different incarnations: one for theatre and one for a television audience. The partnership will commission six scripts, three of which will be screenplays, and three will be theatre plays, depending on the writer’s area of expertise. The six writers will be supported through the development process by either the creative team at Bad Wolf or the National Theatre of Wales. The partners will select three of those six scripts as most suitable for adaptation for the other medium, and the relevant creative team will support those three writers. The National Theatre of Wales will seek to produce the stage plays in future seasons, and Sky Studios and Bad Wolf will decide whether to develop the commissioned scripts further (or indeed whether to commission other work from the writers). If this doesn’t happen, the writers will own their scripts and be free to take them elsewhere.

Sky & Kiln Theatre Collaboration between Sky and the Kiln Theatre, London, identifies fresh, diverse theatre writers and supports them in developing their skills to cross between writing for the theatre and television. The Kiln will identify writers they are interested in writing with and select ten scripts from these writers that best exemplify the writers’ tone, style and sensibility. They will then be shared with Sky and whittled down to six. These six writers will then present a one-pager for an original idea which could be developed firstly as a theatre piece with the potential to be transformed into a screenplay. The Kiln and Sky will select three writers to take forward into development with the Kiln. Following completion, there will be a baton-pass to Sky with the ambition of bringing the screenplays onto the Sky in-house development slate.

Access All Areas was set up to provide scholarship funding to support three people receiving the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. The relationship has evolved into a partnership with theatre and production company Access All Areas, which support learning disabled and autistic students on their Performance Making Diploma provide a course on how to go from ideation to screen. This programme is delivered in partnership with Access All Areas. Students work with leading arts professionals to create performances in different styles and explore ways to make a performer career. Students are asked to develop ideas alongside a seasoned writer who teaches them character development, world building, and how to pitch their ideas. At the end of the process, the students then pitch their work to Sky with the intention that we take an idea into paid development.

shortFLIX is a short film initiative led by Creative England in partnership with Sky Arts for aspiring new filmmakers aged 18-25 who are not in full-time education, employment or training. Ideas are sought from creative, talented, and ambitious young people who can make great short films for broadcast on Sky Arts. Up to 20 successful applicants are guided to write a short film script and pitch their projects to commissioners. Five projects are awarded funding, and the finalists work with a budget of up to £10,000 each and a professional team to make their short films for showcase on Sky Arts. SHORTFLIX provides training, mentorship, funding and industry exposure, with professional guidance provided at every stage.

National Film and Television School Partnership. Sky is the headline sponsor and a course partner of the National Film & Television School, providing funding and input into course curriculum, insights, briefing sessions and placements for students on the following courses:

  • Camera, Sound and Vision Mixing Diploma
  • Creative Digital Producing Diploma
  • Motion Graphics and Titles Diploma
  • Television Entertainment Format Development
  • TV Drama Module

Sky has held a relationship with the NFTS for the last 20 years, and in 2019 a four-year sponsorship deal was signed. As a headline sponsor, Sky has financially backed the NFTS to build a state-of-the-art studio, the first UHD training studio in Europe. Alongside the financial sponsorship, Sky contributes to the course content and offers students 4-6 weeks placements at Sky. At the end of each course, Sky selected one individual to do a 3-month paid placement. Sky employees are also eligible to get a place on their short-term specialist courses.

Events

Sky hosts and supports various events to raise awareness of the opportunities available in the industry and provide strong networks to underrepresented groups.

A Visible Me is an event that brings together diverse on-screen talent with off-screen managers, co-workers and networks. Run since 2018, and the event has brought to light challenges faced by people with hidden disabilities. It is an opportunity to address some of the under-representation that is still evident behind the camera.

Script Editors Forum is a day of panels, discussions and networking aimed specifically at script editors to celebrate their work and value and discuss the challenges faced by script editors in our current television climate and ways to overcome those challenges. Although not explicitly a diversity-focused event, the script editor’s forum targets underrepresented groups. Attendees will have a chance to mix with script editors at the top of their game and script editors who have moved into producing and writing.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does Sky provide more finance to support diverse talent? 

Initially, we would expect you to go to these resources first and try and make it work within your budget, but we are always willing to discuss with your production executive and commissioner.

  • Can Sky provide the details of diverse talent to productions? 

Sky does not hold talent databases, and due to GDPR, we cannot share talent details of talent based on their protected characteristics. Sky does provide access to talent databases which you can find listed in this document, and have many others which we recommend to source diverse talent.

  • With a returning show, how can an existing and established team increase diversity without affecting the team?

We would expect you to be taking a long term view when crewing up and encourage you to look at the more junior roles from the previous series to see how diverse talent can step up for the series to come.

  • I’ve got a production shooting outside the UK, and I need to use a predominately local crew to maximise the tax incentive. How can I ensure I am still crewing diversely in a country where the population is less diverse than the UK? 

We understand that this can be challenging. Post-production is an excellent area to look at when shooting abroad, as it is often done in the UK. We also have some examples of engaging with local film schools. There are also instances where we can see a commitment to the progression of diverse talent; we can look to support the travel and accommodation costs. Explore what the diversity is looking like in the area that you are shooting. What is the representation like in those communities, and how is that reflected in your crew.

  • How do we handle factual programming that is archive heavy or where we only have one onscreen talent?

Sky takes the view that we look at our slate of shows and the diversity that will come through onscreen when looking at factual programming. In those instances, we ensure that we push hard to drive the off-screen diversity.

  • When it is an authored piece, how can we manage diversity in those instances? 

We would expect you to push for diversity in the room and look at other roles, such as script editors, to ensure a conscious effort to drive diversity.

  • In animated content, when the subject matters aren’t human, how do we ensure diversity? 

Voice actors and off-screen talent should be the focus here.

  • Why do the targets not cover all underrepresented groups? 

To keep everyone focused, we have initially focussed on a few goals that will help deliver at speed, build credibility and clear the path for the next big ambition.

Doing one thing brilliantly is nearly always more effective than trying to do many things at once and fosters a collaborative approach for everyone to learn, adapt and succeed.

Examples from previous productions

To invest in diverse leadership providing opportunities for shadow directors, writers and shadow producer roles, relocation of the production to meet the gender diversity and BAME requirements. Create positions at entry and mid-career levels with living expenses and travel to remove barriers

o entry, step-up jobs, work placements from the GMAC Little Pictures programme, and Boost Employability. Additional entry-level roles, paid internships, taking PACT interns from the PACT diversity scheme, supporting the Government’s Kickstart Scheme in conjunction with The Media Trust, working with Commitment to Change 100. Inclusive Recruitment contracting DANDI is a diversity and inclusion recruitment support service. Use of the Talent Manager website as a recruitment tool. Training and mentoring such as participation in the Pact diversity training scheme, the RAD placement scheme with training and ongoing mentor support, the Pact Next Level initiative, ‘Hiring for Disability’ with Think Bigger and Unconscious Bias training and supporting new talent by hiring a female trainee technician (sound) and a diverse female trainee (lighting) to fast track for regular employment in the freelance market and training the entire team on Racial Equality, attending and hosting Networking Events.

Please see the below that can be used as a resource to source talent. 

1. The Screen Skills Levy fund is available to help support diverse talent for those ready to step up into a more senior role or who need that first high-end TV credit. 

From new entrants to midcareer professionals, ScreenSkills, supports skills and training programmes including those supported by contributions from prestige high-end television to the High-end TV Skills Fund.

2. Take a look at this free to use, open database of diverse production talent on The Hue List. 

“A list of Excellent Film, TV and Commercial Crew from BLACK, ASIAN, ARAB & MIXED HERITAGE DIASPORA backgrounds. The commitment & purpose of the Hue List is to provide diversity on film sets, which is representee of our society. By pooling crew from us, you also are progressing their skills, abilities and careers with new opportunities.”

3. Engage with The Talent Manager. The Talent Manager is a database to source freelance talent.

They have a search function which factors in diversity, surfacing diverse talent whilst also ensuring you are getting someone of the level you need. You are required to have a paid account to perform this search function.

Please also see below helpful organisations and contacts: 

Mediorite - email: lucy@mediorite.co.uk 

Conducts training in filmmaking for young people and is a youth-led video production company. 

Modern Tales -  email: info@moderntales.co.uk 

Modern Tales is a professional development initiative created by Bushfire Digital and Script Cube for emerging BAME, female and disabled filmmakers. The programme supports writers, directors and producers in the development of long-form dramatic fiction.

104 Films  phone: 0114 249 3160 

Run training schemes and initiatives for disabled talent in the film and TV industry.

Project Noir – email: hello@projectnoirhub.com 

A collective of African, Caribbean and Asian heritage posts job opportunities, holds networking events and consults with production companies regarding inclusive crewing.

Sara Putt Associates – email: info@saraputt.co.uk 

High-end agent for heads of Department, also offers new diverse talent training, networking and opportunities.

Signature Pictures - email: info@signaturepicturesacademy.co.uk 

They provide training to unemployed young people in every department – provision for those who lack the contacts, resources or belief necessary to develop a career in the industry.

Four Corners – email: info@fourcornersfilm.co.uk 

Four Corners is a learning, production and exhibition centre for film and photography. They support new talent to established practitioners, enabling work that challenges and inspires.

The British Black List

TBBL is an online platform that celebrates Black British creative professionals on the Screen and Stage in Sound and Literature upfront and behind the scenes. They have a talent database (which is currently being updated) that can be accessed at a cost.