Diversity, intersectionality and care in the UK screen sector

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Diversity and inclusion are globally agreed to be a good thing for creative and cultural work, celebrated for both its economic and social benefit (UNDP & UNESCO, 2013). Why then, is the creative and cultural workforce critically un-diverse? Pan-European monitoring of employment across Europe’s creative and cultural sector illustrate the under-representation of women and non-white ethnicities at the senior management and creative lead roles alongside further issues of employment ghettoization and unequal pay (Wom@rts, 2020; Dent et al, 2020; Eurostat, 2019; EWA, 2016; EIGE, 2013). In addition to large-scale numerical monitoring are smaller research studies that provide insight into the lived experience of gender inequality in the creative/cultural workforce (Dent, 2017; Berridge, 2019; Wreyford, 2018). This article has been developed following one such study, a collaboration between myself and a UK-based grassroots campaigning organisation, Raising Films, on a survey designed to gather data on the experience of ‘carers’ within the British screen sector (film, television, animation, visual effects). A ‘carer’ following the official UK definition (Carers UK, 2015) is anyone, including a child, who cares (unpaid) for a family member or a friend who, due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction, cannot manage without their support. The British concept of the term is not easily translatable into different European languages, but the increased demand for unpaid caring support as a result of the financial pressures on the welfare state coupled with a growing elderly population is replicated across Europe (European Public Service Union, 2019). Raising Films is a community-driven organisation founded to support parents and carers in the UK-based screen sector and this study was developed in response to members who highlighted how attention on the barriers of parenting to creative work had led to a series of policy measures that do not relate to the needs of carers. The results from this survey illustrated that caring is not an activity that solely effects women’s ability to participate within creative/cultural work. The findings raise questions on how the sector values caregivers but also the absence of participation from the Black British Afro-Caribbean community points to wider racialized barriers to creative and cultural employment, which I argue are related to the limited policy response to diversity.

The purpose of this article is threefold. First, to highlight the value of grassroots-based research for developing a more nuanced understanding of variable barriers to creative/cultural practice. Second, to provide a criticism of single-axis ‘diversity’ initiatives related to a specific demographic group that can potentially reinforce discriminatory employment structures within the context of creative and cultural work and, third, to problematise the ‘diversity’ agenda in favour of a move towards intersectional social justice that considers the complicated processes of absent/invisible identities within research data.
Original languageEnglish
JournalencatcSCHOLAR
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020

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