Preview: Inclusivity Now… Equal Measures – the 50:50 Story

Posted on: Saturday 04 July 2020 2:59am by Lara Joannides

Lara Joannides explains the background to this video in the Inclusivity Now strand for CMC 2020.

The Children’s Media Conference Facebook Group Chat – Inclusivity Now offers the opportunity for delegates to comment, ask questions and discuss the content of all the Inclusivity Now strand at CMC.

“You can’t be what you can’t see”. It’s a phrase we’re all familiar with, and one which is particularly important when it comes to creating content for young audiences. People of all ages are consuming more and more content every day, whether it be TV ads, the news or social media. And what that content looks and sounds like can have a huge impact on our understanding of the world around us and how we fit into it.

That is why the BBC, as a public service broadcaster, is committed to producing more inclusive and diverse content to accurately reflect society and appeal to all of our audiences.

The 50:50 Project works to improve the representation of women and girls across the BBC’s content by giving teams the tools to self-monitor and consistently improve the gender balance of their contributors.

It was started by a single team in the BBC’s newsroom who wanted to find a practical way to move from talking about this, to actually doing it. And that’s one of the reasons why it works so well. It was developed by journalists who understand the challenges of producing daily content and who have proved it is entirely possible to represent men and women equally. Driven and championed by producers, it is a voluntary, grassroots initiative that has grown to now involve over 600 teams across the Corporation and more than 65 external partner organisations around the world.

There are three core principles to the 50:50 method:

  1. Collect data to drive change

The simple act of counting the gender of your contributors and sharing those figures amongst the team can have a real impact in changing the way producers think. It’s a constant reminder to be more aware of the decisions you’re making about who appears in your content and how they’re represented.

  1. Keep it simple

Making it quick and easy to monitor content so that 50:50 can easily fit into existing production workflows and won’t add to the workload is key to its success and longevity.

  1. No compromise on quality

The 50:50 Project isn’t a quota system. The best contributor must always get used, and through the project we encourage our teams to seek out new and diverse voices to feature who are experts in their field but may not have previously been given the chance to appear in the media. We also encourage teams to consider the quality of gender representation by featuring women in male-dominated roles and vice versa.

Content-makers across the BBC taking part in the 50:50 Project, from News and Sport to Music and Children’s, and we’ve seen how redressing the gender balance of our contributors has strengthened our content and increased its impact. In a recent YouGov survey, a third of women aged 25 to 34 said they now consume more BBC content as a result of this shift.

In this video, June Sarpong outlines the BBC’s wider Creative Diversity plans to hardwire inclusivity into the Corporation’s production processes and values while BBC World News presenter and founder Ros Atkins explains why and how he started the 50:50 Project. 50:50 Project Lead Lara Joannides explains how BBC teams make the project work and Nina Goswami, Creative Diversity Lead, discusses the project’s work with external organisations spread across 20 countries, and how we’re expanding our remit to monitor disability and ethnicity as well as gender.

You can find out more about the 50:50 Project at

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Lara Joannides

About the author

Lara Joannides

BBC, 50:50 Project Lead

Lara works with more than 600 BBC teams to help them improve the diversity of contributors in their content. Lara joined the BBC in 2009 as a Journalism Trainee and has worked across BBC news, from BBC World Service Radio and Newsgathering to CBBC’s Newsround. Prior to joining 50:50, she… Read more