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Industry Best Practices

The Task Force's Recommended Best Practices

1) Industry Commitment

The Task Force notes that industry commitment is a critical component for the implementation of Best Practices. In general, commitment to improving and advancing cultural diversity on television will improve the Canadian broadcasting system overall, from its creative components, to its place on the international stage, to its bottom line.

Best Practices

1.1 Canada's private television and specialty and pay broadcasters recognize that the provision of mainstream relevant programming, which responds to viewers' needs and interests, includes the reflection of Canada's ethnic, cultural, and racial diversity on television.


Canada's private television and specialty and pay broadcasters are committed to achieving diversity both on-screen and within the industry's workforce by:

  1. creating best practices and practical initiatives to improve the representation and ensure the fair, accurate and non-stereotypical portrayal and reflection of Canada's ethnocultural and racial communities and Aboriginal peoples on television;
  2. ensuring an accepting, respectful and inclusive work environment, a representative workforce and a workplace where all employees experience fair treatment and equal opportunity for career advancement; and
  3. identifying and removing barriers to access and employment within the broadcasting system.

2) Application and Measurement

In applying, and then measuring the effectiveness of the Best Practices, it is important to note that a "one-size-fits-all" approach will not work in a broadcasting system as geographically and linguistically diverse as Canada's. Given the diversity of the system, it is incumbent upon individual broadcasters to develop the tools that will be most relevant for them, and to determine the most appropriate and effective ways to use these tools.

Best Practices


2.1 The Task Force for Cultural Diversity on Television recommends that the following best practices and practical initiatives apply to all television stations and specialty and pay services with membership in the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, as appropriate to a station or service's size, market, demographic and licensed mandate.


2.2 A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will measure progress in achieving its diversity objectives.

As noted in the Review of Best Practices, there are a number of methods that can be used to measure progress:

  • "What gets measured, gets done". In other words, many companies put the philosophy of measurement into practice by putting a process in place to measure progress.
  • Many companies surveyed in the Review of Best Practices use tracking devices to monitor the hiring and retention of employees in order to measure workforce diversity.
  • Creating a record of appearances by experts from culturally diverse backgrounds on news programming, creating monthly reports on this and holding semi-annual management meetings to determine progress.
  • As a component of partnerships with independent producers, having program suppliers create records of on-screen appearances by actors from culturally diverse backgrounds, allowing the network to audit appearances across all programming.
  • Developing monthly/annual monitoring reports on casting and portrayal of ethnocultural and Aboriginal diversity in programming, in order to track progress on a regular basis.

3) Corporate Commitment and Accountability

In noting the critical importance of a corporate commitment to cultural diversity, the Task Force emphasizes that this commitment must permeate every level of the organization, effectively working as a fully integrated commitment from the boardroom to the studio floor and beyond.

In our view, in order to bring a corporate commitment to diversity into an organization, this commitment must become an integrated part of corporate governance in a fashion that is clearly evident to all employees.

Best Practices

3.1 A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will formally articulate and demonstrate a corporate commitment to developing and maintaining an inclusive corporate culture that fosters and promotes diversity both on air and within the broader workforce.


A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will develop and implement internal communication practices to ensure that all diversity policies and plans are communicated to management and staff in a timely manner.


A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will ensure that all employees, both management and staff, agree to adhere to diversity policies and practices.


A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will appoint or designate a senior executive to be responsible for the development, implementation and evaluation of diversity practices and initiatives for stations and/or services within their corporate group.


A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will incorporate diversity objectives within its business plans, at the departmental, divisional and/or corporate level.


A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will, where possible, make accessible information on the implementation of diversity practices by posting on its website the company's corporate diversity plan.

As our Review of Best Practices indicates, there are many ways to accomplish this across an organization. Examples from selected case studies include:

  • Reporting on diversity goals in an annual report to shareholders and/or the Board of Directors.
  • Individual employers/employees can include diversity goals in their annual performance planning.
  • Succession management processes reflecting diversity goals can be included in Annual Reports.
  • Senior management can create a roundtable on diversity.
  • Core competency in diversity can be developed as a key competency for managers, e.g., performance measured on the ability to sustain a diverse workforce.
  • Financial incentives can be put in place for managers who perform well in advancing diversity goals for the organization.
  • A senior management position - such as Vice-President, Diversity - can be developed as a corporate focal point for diversity planning.
  • Various reporting mechanisms - whether by department, division, in the Annual Report, etc. - can be shaped or repurposed to include diversity planning and achievements.
  • Diversity practices of an organization - its vision, mission, programs - can be posted in accessible locations such as a website.

4) Human Resources - Recruitment, Hiring and Retention

In matters relating to Human Resources, including policies/programs relating to recruitment, hiring and retention, it is imperative that HR staff be trained and educated on techniques that address cultural diversity.

For example, changes to interview techniques may be needed in order to accommodate employee candidates with culturally diverse backgrounds. Familiarity with non-Canadian education and training systems will enable HR staff to apply a broader perspective to the recruitment process.

Best Practices

4.1 A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will ensure that all human resource policies clearly articulate its commitment to diversity.


A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will review and eliminate on an ongoing basis all human resource policies and practices relating to recruitment, hiring and retention that act as systemic barriers.


A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will develop and implement mechanisms that foster an inclusive and accepting work environment aimed at increasing workforce retention.


A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will develop tactics and implement mechanisms aimed at attracting and recruiting a diverse employee base.


A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will develop and implement a process(or processes) to ensure the integration of representation at all levels of its organization.


A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will, when placing advertisements for employment opportunities, direct advertising beyond mainstream media by placing advertisements in media targeted to ethnocultural and Aboriginal communities.


A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will ensure that employees responsible for hiring and managing staff are provided with standardized training on systemic barriers.


A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will monitor progress and assess the effectiveness of policies and initiatives in furthering diversity objectives.

HR departments can take the lead in developing approaches and techniques that lend themselves to developing and maintaining a diverse workforce and an accommodating workplace. As noted in the Review of Best Practices, there are a number of these:

  • Setting internal targets for hiring, in every level of employment within each department or division of the company.
  • Establishing follow-up/monitoring mechanisms to ensure company progress on hiring practices.
  • Establishing methods of communication with senior management on HR policies and practices related to diversity.
  • Providing 360-degree surveys on company initiatives and diversity objectives, in order to obtain regular feedback from employees.
  • Providing diversity-related information on company news/events/activities to all employees via e-mails, lunchroom postings and other vehicles.

5) Internship, Mentoring and Scholarships

Whether emanating from Human Resources or another department or division, company policies and programs relating to educational initiatives likely rank among the most pivotal of corporate commitments to cultural diversity.

Educational programs can also be both local and national in scope, as a means of attracting maximum participation from the broadest range of Canada's ethnocultural communities and Aboriginal groups.

Best Practices

5.1 A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will incorporate diversity plans into its internship programs.


A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will clearly articulate its diversity practices and policies to educational institutions.


A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will examine internship, mentorship and other recruitment programs both for systemic barriers and effectiveness. Specifically, broadcasters will review selection criteria, outreach initiatives and communication tools for accessibility.


A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will, where possible, work with industry associations and agencies to identify programs for training and recruitment to meet diversity objectives.

There are numerous opportunities for broadcasters to develop successful initiatives on the educational front, as indicated in the Review of Best Practices.

  • Career-oriented programs can be developed with educational partners - such as Boards of Education - to expose students from diverse backgrounds to broadcasting careers. These often take the form of internships.
  • Partnerships can be established with such programs as Junior Achievement or similar career-focused programs for youth that have a diversity component.
  • Scholarships, bursaries and similar educational awards, to encourage entry of students from culturally diverse or Aboriginal backgrounds into broadcasting.
  • Career placement or co-op programs focusing on opportunities for students from culturally diverse backgrounds.
  • Management training programs for junior employees from diverse backgrounds.
  • Asking employees to volunteer to mentor a junior employee from a culturally diverse background.
  • Databases to track students who show promise in scholarship or career placement candidacy.
  • Job fairs and related outreach programs that "get the word out" on university and college campuses.
  • Writers' programs have proven especially successful as internships among a number of broadcasting companies.
  • Creating writers' fellowships in order to ensure a regular rotation of new, culturally diverse talent, through a company.

6) News and Information Programming

In bringing the realities of community, country and the world to Canadians, news and information programming presents potentially the most sensitive of all Best Practices initiatives focusing on cultural diversity on television.

It is pivotal that all newsroom professionals not only commit to diversity in the workplace, but also develop means for ensuring accurate reflection and portrayal of ethnoculturally diverse and Aboriginal groups. This means that newsroom culture must become well-versed in cultural diversity, in understanding vocabulary, culturally unique behaviours and other methods of communication.

Best Practices

6.1 A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will commit to fair and accurate reflection and portrayal on-screen by reviewing, developing and maintaining an editorial perspective and/or policy that advance its diversity objectives.


A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will diversify its use of experts on air to include individuals from a broad range of ethnocultural and Aboriginal backgrounds.


A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will ensure that experts and other on-air guests from a broad range of ethnocultural or Aboriginal backgrounds are interviewed on-screen with respect to a wide-range of public issues and not just those issues which may be of particular interest to ethnocultural or Aboriginal communities.


A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will ensure that on-air news and information programming staff from ethnocultural or Aboriginal communities are assigned to a wide range of public issues and not just those issues which may be of particular interest to ethnocultural or Aboriginal communities.


A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will develop and implement outreach initiatives to foster a better understanding among news and information programming staff and ethnocultural and Aboriginal communities.


A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will ensure that news and information programming staff participate in ethnocultural and Aboriginal community outreach initiatives.

As noted in the Review of Best Practices, there are many successful initiatives and techniques that can be employed to advance cultural diversity in News and Information Programming:

  • Develop and maintain a database of experts from diverse backgrounds, cross-matched to areas of expertise.
  • Seek community input when developing a database of experts.
  • Ensure experts are used for story support in general, as opposed to using experts for culturally-specific stories only.
  • Develop practices - seminars, professional training and other vehicles - aimed specifically at accurate reporting of ethnocultural and Aboriginal communities in news and information programming.
  • Use Advisory Boards and Editorial Boards with representatives/invited guests from diverse communities.
  • Create News Diversity Forums to identify methods of presenting culturally diverse perspectives in news programming, and to make viewpoints more inclusive.
  • Hold regular newsroom staff meetings to discuss diversity, or include diversity as a topic in regular newsroom meetings.
  • Create mechanisms for viewer input to newsroom.
  • Measure and monitor on-air representation and portrayal within news programming.
  • Support direct involvement of news and information programming staff with local communities to foster dialogue and build relationships.
  • Provide news and information programming personnel with opportunities to attend job fairs and participate in outreach programs as recruiting methods for students from culturally diverse and Aboriginal backgrounds.

7) Programming - Acquired, Independent and in-house Production

The Task Force's research study provides a range of perspectives on the manner in which broadcasters can and should work to advance cultural diversity on screen. Clearly, there are shortcomings in onscreen presence of cultural diversity as perceived by industry experts and focus group respondents, across a range of programming practices.

Among the most commonly expressed concerns in the research findings is the perception that story lines too often fail to include culturally diverse or Aboriginal perspectives. As expressed by numerous participants in focus groups, Canadians from diverse backgrounds perceive that they do not see themselves on television, and do not see their stories and situations reflected back to them.

Similarly, in a perception supported by the quantitative analysis, actors from diverse backgrounds fill primary roles in dramatic programming on too few occasions. As noted earlier in this Report, negative imagery, story lines and characters in the form of stereotyping are too commonly experienced by audiences from culturally diverse or Aboriginal backgrounds.

Best Practices

7.1 A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will commit, to the extent possible, to acquiring, commissioning and producing in-house, programming that fulfils its commitment to diversity objectives.


A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will review, develop and implement "producer guidelines" relating to independent and in-house productions, and script and concept development, that advance diversity objectives and stimulate the production of more diverse programming.


A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will, in order to advance diversity goals, where possible, liaise with regional, provincial and national industry partners, associations and agencies such as, but not limited to, the Canadian Film and Television Production Association (CFTPA), Association des producteurs de films et de télévision du Québec (APFTQ), National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET), Syndicat des techniciennes et techniciens du cinéma et de la vidéo du Québec (STCVQ), Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA), Union des artistes (UDA), Women in Film and Television (WIFT), Canadian Television Fund (CTF), Telefilm Canada, and the National Film Board of Canada (NFB).

With respect to programming, the Review of Best Practices identifies a number of successful initiatives:

  • Creating a database of ethnocultural and Aboriginal producers, actors, directors and other professional personnel to identify new talent resources and diversify programming.
  • Extending the range of production partners to those with track records in diverse programming, and exercising creativity in making programming choices.
  • Working with independent producers to develop and implement regular monitoring and reporting of diversity in creative roles.
  • Engaging in consultation with communities of interest in making final decisions on scripts and casting.
  • Implementing a process whereby internal program schedules are regularly analyzed to assess the effectiveness of their diversity initiatives onscreen.
  • Participating in programming markets, film festivals and conferences specific to ethnocultural and Aboriginal communities groups and/or diversity.

8) Community Connections

Establishing and maintaining community connections is a common theme throughout many of the Best Practices noted so far. But connecting with a community in and of itself is an extremely important measure in advancing cultural diversity on television.

Community Advisory Panels can serve as direct conduits to broadcaster and community-based activities in the area of cultural diversity. Panels can develop means to discuss or invite critical assessment of programming, company diversity initiatives and recommended methods of advancing both of these.

At the same time, Panels can serve as information conduits for issues of current concern, on crime, social justice, poverty, education, etc. All in all, connecting with communities provides valuable information on community needs, making broadcasters that much more aware of their customer base.

Best Practices

8.1 A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will review, develop and implement formalized, strategic and purposeful community outreach and consultation practices at various levels - local, regional, national - to inform and be informed regarding issues concerning the representation, reflection and portrayal of ethnocultural and Aboriginal communities.


A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will ensure community and audience communication with a view to eliminating systemic barriers.

As outlined in the Review of Best Practices, a number of initiatives have been undertaken to maintain a focus on community:

  • Making Diversity Councils or similar bodies more inclusive by ensuring permanent participation from community representatives.
  • Holding Diversity Roundtable discussions that specifically focus on community participation.
  • Developing forums for discussion between newsroom editorial staff and community groups, in order to ensure accurate reflection of a community's diversity.
  • Ensuring the widest possible community participation in company initiatives, such as job fairs.

9) Internal Communications

Best Practices

9.1 A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will inform and communicate, on an ongoing basis, to management and staff, all diversity policies and practices adopted by its station(s), service and/or corporate group.

Almost all companies surveyed in the Review of Best Practices had developed well-defined internal communications initiatives.

  • Broadest possible circulation of diversity policies and practices, with postings in high traffic areas such as lunchrooms and distribution via company e-mail.
  • Regular reporting of diversity activities and initiatives, with annual reports or other communications vehicles circulated to all employees.
  • Using company newsletters, infosheets or other internally circulated communications to identify and update diversity initiatives.

10) External Communications

Best Practices

10.1 A television, specialty, or pay broadcaster will make known to its audience and business communities the diversity practices adopted by its station and/or service.

The Review of Best Practices also highlighted some external communications vehicles.

  • Use of PSAs to communicate broadcaster initiatives relating to cultural diversity.
  • Creating community-focused advertising for a station that promotes that station's commitment to diversity.
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