The UK’s film industry is a nepotistic ‘closed shop’ run by an ‘old boys’ network

film setsDiversity in British film is poor.Warner Bros/

The UK film industry has a distinct lack of diversity thanks in part to the prominence of nepotism and an “old boy” networks, according to a new report.

An audit of the industry, carried out for the British Film Institute (BFI) by research and consultancy firm the Work Foundation, found that only 3% of employees are from a minority or ethnic background, compared to 12.5% nationally. Only one in five key production workers are women, with an average gender pay gap of £3,000. The disability pay gap is even worse, at £8,450.

The biggest problem currently facing the industry is the lack of diversity, respondents said. Common barriers to jobs include not knowing the right people and geographical issues.

“Narrow recruitment channels” have created a “closed shop,” the report said, while the dominance of freelancers and unpaid interns stopped people without financial flexibility getting into the industry.

“The industry is dominated by Oxbridge, who all know each other and go back decades,” said one respondent.

“There’s also a lot of nepotism in the industry… Recruitment is via word of mouth and they always look to hire people they know are good and gave worked with previously,” said another.

Both employers and workers also highlighted the lack of relevant education and training available, saying that courses often did not adequately prepare individuals for work, and that career advice was frequently either poor or unavailable.

The UK film sector employs 66,000 people, the majority of whom are based in London and the South East. According to the report, the industry is a large net contributor to the Treasury and is experiencing a period of rapid growth that outstrips every other sector.

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