• Marc Luther Thomas

Eyes on the PRize: Channel 4 & 'Disability Works' campaign

Updated: Dec 10, 2019

In the latest instalment of our Eyes on the PRize series, Marc Luther Thomas looks at the success of Channel 4's campaign to mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

To mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Channel 4 partnered with Sainsbury’s, NatWest and Nationwide to gift advertising airtime to social enterprises championing disability for the ‘Disability Works’ campaign, working alongside charity Scope and government scheme Disability Confident.

During the broadcast of ‘How to Save £1000 Online’, adverts for soap producer Beco, chocolatier Harry Specters and brewer Ignition Brewery were aired. Each advertiser also aired a 10-second introduction prior to their ad to showcase their gesture and raise their own profiles.

The campaign formed a part of the #PurpleLightUp movement, a global movement created to recognise the economic empowerment of disabled people. The movement was created by PurpleSpace which is a networking and professional development hub for disabled employees and their allies, of which Channel 4 is a member.

This came after Channel 4 entered in an alliance with other major broadcasters such as BBC, ITV, Sky, Viacom/Channel 5 as well as Pact and the Department for Work and Pensions to take part in ‘Doubling Disability’. This initiative, led by the Creative Diversity Network, has aimed to double the percentage of disabled. People working in the UK’s broadcasting industry by the end of 2020.

Currently only 4.5% of people working behind-the-scenes in the world of television identify themselves as disabled, as opposed to 18% in the wider population and 17% of the country’s workforce. In September this year, Ofcom warned that the television industry needs to do more to increase its number of disabled workers. In its third annual Diversity and Equal Opportunities in Television report, the broadcast regulator said that progress had stalled, showing no growth in the representation of disabled people from 2017/18 into 18/19.

The report revealed that Channel 4 were in fact leading the way - 11% of their staff declare themselves as disabled, closely followed by the BBC (10%) and Viacom, owner of Channel 5 (8%). ITV and Sky were said to lag far behind at 4% and 3% respectively.

This year’s Disability Works campaign comes after last year’s was described as a 'resounding success'. In 2018, Channel 4 aired a two-minute film consisting of employees from recognised brands such as BT, Virgin Media and Nationwide discussing the concerns of disabled people and the perception of them in the workplace.

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