At Sky, I am responsible for people, brand and communications.
all our people activities for our 31,000 members of staff across 7
countries. And it’s also my job to make sure we communicate our brand
effectively with our 24 million customers and the many more who are
interested in Sky.
I couldn’t do a job like that without making diversity and inclusion a top priority.
Because I can only make sure we have the best people in our business if we recruit the talent from every background.
we can only connect with our customers if the way we communicate
reflects the diversity of the societies we are communicating with.
Now, I don’t want to claim that we have all of that sorted. We are on a journey.
At Sky, just under 40% of our leadership positions are occupied by women.
That’s better than it was a few years ago, and better than the UK average, but our goal is for that number to be 50%.
2018 and 2019, we exceeded our target of 20% individuals with BAME
background for on-screen roles and are close to that number for writers
as well; but we want to go further.
We want to take action to
help address imbalances that already exist in society. Like how
attractive technology and engineering careers are to women.
courses attract five men for every woman. I have a cousin who is
studying civil engineering at Edinburgh who told me she wears a t shirt
on campus that reads ‘yes. I’m an engineer. Now can we move on please.’
a similar story in technology. We conducted research that found only
20% of 16-18-year-old girls will be advised to consider a career in
technology, compared to 45% of boys.
That’s why we have a Women in
Tech scholarship programme which encourages bright young women in tech
from around the country to become role models by funding them and their
We’re also working with local schools on a coding course
to incorporate into their curriculum and sending our inspirational women
into schools to talk about careers in STEM.
At Sky, we really care about our impact in the community, and in society.
I want to say a little bit about why this matters to us at Sky, tell
you a bit more about our journey and what else we can all do to move
I’d like to talk today about three important aspects:
That these changes are not just right for business, they are good for business.
That diversity is a start, but the key to unlocking business value goes further: it is inclusion.
And finally, how we can all play a role in making that shift happen.
Let’s start with the first one: why diversity is good for business.
In a way this is obvious. It shouldn’t really need saying.
The facts show that diverse companies are more profitable, and more appealing to work for.
Talent is distributed across society. Men, women. Working class, middle class. All races and creeds.
If a company shuts out any of those groups, they are shutting out talent they can’t afford to lose.
We cannot win the war for talent if we only draw from a small pool. So diversity in recruitment is a business imperative.
But as a broadcaster, diversity is not just about the talent we have off screen. It matters on screen too.
We challenge stereotypes and show the role of women.
Many of our leading talents at Sky News are women, such as Beth Rigby, our political editor.
Scott played 140 times for England, and can explain football as well as
anyone, so it was a no brainer to bring her into the Sky Sports Studio.
And I hope you’re all voting for her on Strictly.
teams have curated a collection of stories with diverse role models.
And, when we develop, produce and fund original drama through our new
creative home, Sky Studios, we think hard about how to make sure they
reflect the importance of diversity.
We are incredibly proud of this show.
people who haven’t seen it, it is a drama that tells the story of how
the Chernobyl nuclear disaster happened; and how the secrets that made
that disaster possible were unravelled.
A key part of that latter story is the role of women.
If you’ve seen the show, you know the character who is most committed to exposing the truth is a woman: Ulana Khomyuk.
show is painstaking in its devotion to truth, but it is also a piece of
narrative TV and so the writer needed to make some choices that made
the story work on television. And one of those stories was the creation
Because one little known fact is that the nuclear
science community in the Soviet Union included many, many women in
And so, when the writer of the show needed to
condense that community into a single person, he felt he owed it to all
those women to make sure they were represented too.
So hers was a
composite character that represented the women scientists who were
there, who haven’t been represented in the past.
result? Emily Watson was nominated for an Emmy for her performance as
Khomyuk. And Chernobyl is the highest rated show on IMDB of all time.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that a show that pays attention to gender is one of our most successful shows.
that doesn’t just matter to us because it is right. It is also good for
business. Shows like Chernobyl are increasingly why people choose to
subscribe to Sky.
Content that resonates with society is the heart of who we are and what we need to be.
And that is not just true for us.
you want to reach a younger customer base, diversity matters even more.
Audiences under 35 care even more about these issues, especially when
it comes to choosing their employers.
A recent research study
found that 47% of millennials say they are actively looking for
diversity and inclusion programmes in their prospective workplaces.
The importance of inclusion
The second point I want to make is that it is not just about getting diverse groups of people through the door.
It is about inclusion – that is, empowering them once they are inside.
Inclusion is not an abstract concept.
is about taking steps so everyone can actually play a part. Make their
voice heard. Feel welcome, whoever they are. Someone once said to me
that diversity is being invited to the party, and inclusion is being
asked to dance.
If you find you have systems inside your
business that systematically disadvantage people on any basis other than
their performance in their job, you need to think about how to fix them
so that everyone is being asked to dance.
It’s about how the entire culture of the company operates.
It’s about how everyone is treated.
It’s as important at board level as it is as entry level.
board level, I’ve seen inclusion lead directly to better decisions
simply because there are differing opinions that make people think ‘ah
I’d never seen it like that before’ . A diverse group that is listened
to is far more likely to challenge group think and approach problems
from multiple angles.
We recently launched our ‘Step Up, Speak Up’ commitment.
asked ALL Sky employees, not just those with ‘diverse’ backgrounds, to
be mindful of diversity, yes, but also to tell us what we could change.
To tell us how to include them.