BAI welcomes publication of research report on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Irish television and film industry

Auditing Gender & Diversity Change in Irish Media Sectors report funded under the BAI’s Media Research Funding Scheme

A new research report auditing gender and diversity change in Irish media sectors has found that while the Irish screen industry has demonstrated an appetite for further engagement on equality, diversity and inclusion, leadership in the form of statutory support and resources is required to embed them into national broadcasting legislation, policy, and implementation practices.

Research for the report, entitled Auditing Gender & Diversity Change in Irish Media Sectors, was carried out by Dr Anne O’Brien, Maynooth University, Dr Susan Liddy, MIC, University of Limerick, and Dr Páraic Kerrigan, University College Dublin, and was funded under the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s Media Research Funding Scheme. All of the academics are experts in gender and / or sexual inequality.

The purpose of the project was to examine how equality, diversity and inclusion policies and initiatives are promoted and implemented on the ground by broadcasters, production companies and professional organisations, with the aim of generating a solution-centric discussion on diversity and inclusion in Irish media industries. A qualitative case study approach was taken to the research, and a total of 27 interviews were carried out between January and April 2021 with respondents in key roles concerned with implementing equality and diversity policy within their organisation. The findings addressed the themes of policy, perspectives and practices that encourage diversity; creating a pipeline of diverse workers for industry; leadership for change in the sector; and educating industry for greater understanding of diversity and inclusion.

Commenting, Dr O’Brien said: “As Irish society becomes increasingly diverse in its composition, it is crucial that all political, economic and cultural institutions reflect the gender, class, sexual, racial and ethnic identities of its people, as well as their diverse abilities and creative capacities. For media industries in particular, it is clear that diversity on screen is only created in an authentic and sustainable manner when there is diversity behind the scenes. Our research found a genuine interest and reflection across the sector as to how to best go about increasing diversity and inclusion in the media workforce. From a policy, practices, and perspectives point of view, many of the broadcast respondents had policies in place but this was less in evidence in the independent media sector, which nonetheless demonstrated efforts to engage in practices for improving diversity and inclusion.”

She added: “In terms of leadership for change, the sector noted that organisational change was needed alongside a coherent vision for the future of the sector and, most importantly, adequate resources to facilitate such a substantial sectoral-level change. The work the BAI has carried out to date in this regard is welcome, but we note that it does not have the statutory basis or the resources to execute a national change policy in this regard. To that end, our key recommendation is that statutory support and resources are provided to the regulator to help to weave equality, diversity and inclusion into the fabric of national broadcasting legislation, policy and implementation practices.”

The research was funded under the BAI’s 2019 Media Research Funding Scheme, which aims to support research initiatives that facilitate the BAI in undertaking its regulatory activities and in meeting the needs of viewers and listeners in Ireland. The Scheme also supports the BAI in developing and maintaining relevant links with third-level institutions and the broadcasting sector. A separate research report funded under the Scheme, focusing on diversity and inclusion in public service broadcasting, and undertaken by DCU in partnership with RTÉ, is due to be launched in August. Overall, €56,318 was made available under the scheme to suitably qualified academics, researchers and broadcasting/media professionals in order to carry out research project(s) on themes of relevance to the work of the BAI.

Commenting, Deputy Chief Executive of the BAI, Celene Craig said: “Promoting and supporting diversity, equality and inclusion in the media is a critical area of focus for the BAI. As both a developer and regulator of the broadcasting sector, we have a responsibility to lead this change.  In this regard the BAI is collaborating with the Department of Tourism Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media on an ongoing basis. This report will further inform our approach and, as we transition to the establishment of the Media Commission, contribute to discussions and the development of policy to strengthen the role of regulation in this area. We also note from the report the importance of developing robust data gathering mechanisms. The BAI favours a partnership approach to data collection, which will allow us to work with other key industry stakeholders towards developing an appropriate data collection framework.”

The research report can be found here. Researchers will present their findings at a Zoom webinar at 3pm this afternoon (Thurs). Registration details can be found here.


Media contact: Joanne Ahern, DHR Communications, Tel: 087-9881837.

All other queries: BAI, 01-6441200.

Notes to editors:

  • Dr Anne O’Brien from Maynooth University and Dr Susan Liddy from MIC University of Limerick are available for interview, on request.
  • Supporting research is one of four key areas outlined in the BAI’s Gender Action Plan to promote greater gender equality in the audio-visual sector.