By K.J. Yossman, Manori Ravindran
At least 15 women of color have left the BBC in the last year saying they are “exhausted” from fighting a system that “is not systemically built to support anyone who is different,” a Variety investigation has uncovered.
“There has been an exodus,” says Simone Byrne, a Black Scottish journalist who spent 16 years at the BBC, first in news and then in diversity and inclusion (D&I), a unit that recruits diverse talent and ensures compliance with in-house D&I policies.
Byrne left in November 2021 after being told by her managers that she needed to be “sensitive about how I speak about race to white people.” She had pointed out that after two years of lockdown, the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests, no one at the organization had asked “how I’m feeling or about being Black in the BBC or in this media space.”
“I said, this should really have been addressed,” says Byrne. In response, she was told “people felt uncomfortable [with] me saying that.”
In a statement, a BBC spokesperson told Variety: “As an employer we are committed to being welcoming and inclusive, where people can thrive regardless of background, but if some individuals have had a negative experience we always want to hear about that and learn from it. We have long established processes in place for people to raise any concerns internally.”