Private radio broadcasters are committed to advancing diversity, including ethnocultural groups, Aboriginal peoples and persons with disabilities, within the sector. Many private radio operators, at both the station and corporate levels, have already brought forward innovative approaches to engaging diversity in the workplace and on air.
The Business Case for Diversity in Radio
Private radio respects it obligations to reflect the diversity of Canada in its programming and operations and recognizes that changes to the demographics of Canada’s population also represent a very strong business case for diversity in radio.
In a major change from its demographics a generation ago, Canada’s diversity has grown dramatically. Many businesses within the Canadian economy – from financial institutions to high-tech companies to private broadcasters – are keenly aware of these demographic realities, and recognize that major transformations in the population inevitably drives change in the economy as a whole. Consumer patterns of behaviour change, workforce compositions are altered and the base of human capital, driving a knowledge-based economy, broadens.
The business community is also aware that a more diverse customer base means they must change, adapt and create in order to remain competitive in the products and services they offer. In other words, within many of Canada’s economic sectors there is a broad recognition that diversity can mean strong business opportunity and business success. Companies that do not recognize the relationship between growing diversity and business success run the risk of losing out on potentially lucrative markets.
The private radio industry is very much aware of the opportunity and success that harnessing diversity can represent. There is a very strong business rationale that underlies the case for diversity in private radio - the creation of more dynamic diverse programming and the development of diverse workforces can attract larger listening audiences, enhance already strong relationships in local communities and generate additional or new advertising revenue.
For individual radio stations, building and pursuing a business case for diversity will be largely dependent on and be driven by the level of diversity present within their local markets. With a wide variation across markets throughout Canada, individual radio companies and/or stations will need to determine those strategies that will best suit both business and community relevance.
Best Practices for Diversity in Private Radio
Private radio’s strategy to advance the reflection and promotion of talent from diverse backgrounds including ethnocultural groups, Aboriginal peoples and persons with disabilities is based on the development and implementation of a wide range of best practices with an emphasis on music and spoken-word programming, human resource initiatives, community outreach, and accountability and measurement.
Private radio broadcasters are committed to achieving high standards for their broadcasts and were among the founding members of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC). As members of the CBSC, radio broadcasters adhere to a number of industry content codes relating to programming and advertising material including the CAB Code of Ethics, RTNDA (Journalistic) Code of Ethics and the CAB Equitable Portrayal Code1 and regularly review these codes to ensure they meet evolving community standards and expectations for programming, including the fair and accurate portrayal of ethnocultural minorities, Aboriginal peoples and persons with disabilities.
In addition, the music content provided by a majority of private radio broadcasters is very racially and culturally diverse with most radio stations providing a rich menu of racially and culturally diverse music programming in a multitude of formats.
Notwithstanding, private radio broadcasters recognize that the continued selection and promotion of music and spoken-word talent/programming from ethnocultural minorities, Aboriginal peoples and persons with disabilities contributes to the better reflection of diversity in commercial radio. Private radio broadcasters also recognize that Canadian Content Development contributions can have a positive impact on the advancement of diversity in private radio. For these reasons, the private radio broadcasters also encourage other industry stakeholders including regional and national music associations, guilds, unions and music funding agencies to develop strategies for talent development in ethnocultural, Aboriginal, and disability communities.
In order to situate private radio’s best practices within the operational and market realities of the sector they are organized in the following nine areas:
- Industry Commitment
- Application and Implementation
- Corporate Accountability
- Recruitment, Hiring, Retention
- Internship, Mentoring and Scholarships
- News and Information Programming
- Community and Industry Outreach
- Internal Communications
1) Industry Commitment
1.1 Canada’s private radio broadcasters recognize the importance of the provision of programming at the local and network level that responds to listeners’ needs and interests and includes the reflection of Canada’s diversity on air.
1.2 Canada’s private radio broadcasters are committed to achieving diversity both on-air and within the industry’s workforce by:
- creating best practices and practical initiatives to improve the representation and ensure the fair, accurate and non-stereotypical portrayal and reflection of Canada’s diversity on radio;
- 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;
- identifying and removing barriers to access and employment within the broadcasting system; and
- identifying the business opportunities associated with fostering an inclusive and diverse workforce and airing programming that attracts diverse audiences.
2) Application and Measurement
Given the diversity of the private radio broadcasting industry itself, it is incumbent upon individual radio 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.
2.1 Private radio broadcasters will measure progress in achieving their diversity objectives.
3) Corporate Accountability
In order to ensure corporate commitment to diversity, this commitment must become an integrated part of corporate governance that is clearly evident to all employees.
3.1 A private radio 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.
3.2 A private radio broadcaster will develop and implement internal communication practices to ensure that all diversity policies and plans are communicated to management and staff.
3.3 A private radio broadcaster will ensure that all employees, both management and staff, agree to adhere to diversity policies and practices.
3.4 A private radio 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.
3.5 A private radio broadcaster will, where possible, incorporate diversity objectives within its business plans, at the departmental, divisional and/or corporate level.
3.6 A private radio broadcaster will, where possible, make accessible information on the implementation of diversity practices by posting on its website the company’s corporate diversity plan.
4) 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.
4.1 A private radio broadcaster will ensure that all human resource policies clearly articulate its commitment to diversity.
4.2 A private radio 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.
4.3 A private radio broadcaster will develop and implement mechanisms that foster an inclusive and accepting work environment aimed at increasing workforce retention.
4.4 A private radio broadcaster will develop tactics and implement mechanisms aimed at attracting and recruiting a diverse employee base.
4.5 A private radio broadcaster will, where possible, place advertisements for employment opportunities beyond mainstream media by placing advertisements in media targeted to diverse communities.
4.6 A private radio broadcaster will ensure that employees responsible for hiring and managing staff are provided with training on systemic barriers.
4.7 A private radio broadcaster will monitor progress and assess the effectiveness of policies and initiatives in furthering diversity objectives.
5) Internship, Mentoring and Scholarships
Educational programs can be both local and national in scope, as a means of attracting maximum participation from the broadest range of Canada’s diversity.
5.1 A private radio broadcaster will incorporate diversity plans into its internship programs where available.
5.2 A private radio broadcaster will clearly articulate its diversity practices and policies to educational institutions with which it has existing relationships.
5.3 A private radio 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.
5.4 A private radio broadcaster will, where possible, work with industry associations and agencies to identify programs for training and recruitment to meet diversity objectives.
Private radio broadcasters recognize that the selection and promotion of music and spoken-word talent/programming from ethnocultural minorities, Aboriginal peoples and persons with disabilities can contribute to the better reflection of diversity in commercial radio.
6.1 A private radio broadcaster will endeavour to fairly and accurately reflect the diversity of the audience and/or communities it serves in the programming offered within its format.
6.2 In the commissioning, acquisition and/or development of programming, a private radio broadcaster will ensure where possible that programs reflect the diversity of the audiences the programming is directed to.
6.3 A private radio broadcaster will, where possible, reflect the unique perspective and cultural background that on-air talent/producers bring.
6.4 A private radio broadcaster will support music and spoken-word talent from diverse backgrounds using regulated financial contributions to Canadian Content Development initiatives and music funding agencies such as FACTOR, MusicAction, Radio Starmaker Fund and Fonds Radiostar.
7) 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 diversity in private radio.
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 diverse groups. This means that newsroom culture must become well-versed in cultural diversity, in understanding vocabulary, culturally unique behaviours and other methods of communication.
7.1 A private radio broadcaster will commit to fair and accurate reflection and portrayal on-air by reviewing, developing and maintaining an editorial perspective and/or policy that advances its diversity objectives.
7.2 A private radio broadcaster will diversify its use of experts on air to include individuals from a broad range of diverse backgrounds.
7.3 A private radio broadcaster will ensure that experts and other on-air guests from diverse backgrounds are interviewed on-air with respect to a wide-range of public issues.
7.4 A private radio broadcaster will ensure that on-air news and information programming staff from diverse communities are assigned to a wide range of public issues.
7.5 A private radio broadcaster will develop and implement outreach initiatives to foster a better understanding among news and information programming staff about diverse communities.
7.6 A private radio broadcaster will ensure that news and information programming staff participate in the outreach initiatives of diverse communities.
7.7 A private radio broadcaster will consult with community leaders and issues experts, where appropriate, on issues such as ethnic or racial conflict and other diversity-sensitive issues.
Connecting with a community is an extremely important measure in advancing diversity on private radio.
8) Community and Industry Outreach
8.1 A private radio broadcaster will review, develop and implement community outreach and consultation practices as applicable (local, regional) to inform and be informed regarding issues concerning the representation, reflection and portrayal of diverse communities.
8.2 A private radio broadcaster will review its communications with its audiences with a view to eliminating systemic barriers.
9) Internal Communications
9.1 A private radio broadcaster will inform and communicate, on an ongoing basis, to management and staff, all diversity policies and practices adopted by its station(s).
1. The CAB’s proposed Equitable Portrayal Code is still under consideration by the CRTC.