C: K Mitch Hodge / Unsplash

‘Get used to hearing things you don’t like’ BBC boss tells LGBT employees

A BBC boss told the corporation’s LGBT and transgender staff that they must “get used to hearing things [they] do not personally like,” it has been reported.

The broadcaster’s Head of News, Frans Usworth, who is set to leave the BBC in January, made the comments during a Zoom call on Friday. She was responding to questions that “implied people should not come across views they disliked” during a Zoom meeting with the BBC’s Pride network.

The meeting was held amid the BBC’s recent departure from Stonewall’s diversity champions scheme, under which it had paid for advice and assessment from the charity. In return for a yearly payment, members receive advice on issues such as the use of personal pronouns at work, and whether single-sex toilets should be accessible to those who identify as transgender.

Despite many organisations adopting the scheme, Stonewall has been recently swamped in controversy after its Chief Executive Nancy Kelley claimed that “gender critical” beliefs — believing that a person’s biological sex cannot be changed — were similar to anti-Semitism. Several leading corporations have now abandoned the scheme.

The BBC said in a statement that its involvement with the charity had led some to question whether it could truly be seen as “impartial when reporting on public policy debates”: “[…] Over time our participation in the Programme has led some to question whether the BBC can be impartial when reporting on public policy debates where Stonewall is taking an active role.”

It added: “After careful consideration, we believe it is time to step back from the Diversity Champions Programme and will also no longer participate in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index.

“Although the BBC will not be renewing its participation in the Diversity Champions Programme, in the future we will continue to work with a range of external organisations, including Stonewall, on relevant projects to support our LGBTQ+ staff.”

The BBC’s departure follows media watchdog Ofcom quitting the scheme over the summer. In August, the regulator said it had withdrawn because of the need to remain impartial and independent at all times.”

In March, the Equality and Human Rights Commission also dropped the scheme, citing cost issues. Other organisations to quit the controversial scheme include Channel 4, Ofsted, the Ministry of Justice and The Department of Health.

At the BBC meeting, Ms Unsworth reportedly told staff that the broadcaster had a duty to tell these stories to the public, and they “could not walk away from the conversation”.

A source told The Sunday Times that Ms Unsworth told staff: “You’ll hear things you don’t personally like and see things you don’t like — that’s what the BBC is, and you have to get used to that.”

One employee said that the BBC boss was calm yet firm in her approach: “Fran was totally calm but determined about it.”

Another source said that the meeting between Ms Unsworth and her staff “was like explaining journalism to idiots”.

During the meeting, BBC Director General, Tim Davie, who was previously chairman of a lesbian, gay and bisexual working group at the corporation, told staff he would listen to their views and said it was a priority to make them feel comfortable at work. Despite his attempts to reassure staff, he was told by one employee that he “was not in a position to make decisions on this issue, because he’s not trans.”

A BBC spokesperson told MailOnline: “The BBC has regular staff meetings and this meeting was constructive and useful.”

Share mdi-share-variant mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-printer mdi-chevron-left Prev Next mdi-chevron-right Related
Comments are open

The biggest problem Ireland faces right now is:

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...