The media industry is becoming increasingly aware of the need to increase diversity both on and off-screen in order to better represent the audiences it serves, ultimately producing better stories from a wider range of backgrounds and opinions.

However, certain beats, such as sports journalism, still have a lot of room for improvement. Only 9.6 per cent of the 456 media roles covering the Olympics, Paralympics, Euros and Wimbledon tournament in 2016 were of Black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) origin, according to research from The Black Collective of Media in Sport.

"It is a vicious circle when we hire, as we want to take on people who can get straight into the job with the required experience and sometimes that means 15-20 years of it, but these happen to be white men," said Alex Kay-Jelski, sports editor at The Times, speaking at The D Word 2 conference in London yesterday (24 October).

But Jonathan Liew, sports writer at The Telegraph, explained that publishers must try to fight the lack of diversity by re-evaluating their recruitment strategy.

"I would want to know where you looked, how you tried and where you advertised your jobs, because if you aren't doing your utmost to try and get people that aren't normally part of your profession to enter it, then the lack of diversity is partly your fault," he said.

Philip Bernie, head of TV sport at the BBC, noted that the broadcaster is looking to become more diverse by using social platforms to recruit, hoping to attract applicants from different backgrounds using the networks they are already in.

"The recruitment pipeline is still way too small and thin, and we need to stretch out.

"Junior people or students don't necessarily gravitate towards what 50 year-old media executives do, so we've got to look at ways to recruit people through new media, and it's something we're working on."

By attracting younger applicants straight out of education, news organisations are able to break down the barriers that might be stopping talented candidates from applying, showing that the doors are open to people of all backgrounds and experiences, explained Rodney Hinds, sports editor at The Voice newspaper.

He noted that the issue is not the lack of talent out there.

While there is an intention from the top, we have to make sure that the people doing the hiring at every level understand our prioritiesAndy Cairns, Sky Sports News

"Not a week goes by when I don't hear from an aspiring journalist with great credentials, who wants to move on but doesn't know how to do it," Hinds said.

"I know we are all busy, but give people five minutes of your time to pass on some of your knowledge – it is just about opportunity at the end of the day."

Andy Cairns, executive editor for Sky Sports News, explained that his newsroom runs an apprenticeship scheme to encourage more people from diverse backgrounds to join the company and runs open days for students to come in and learn how bulletins are put together.

However, he pointed out that regardless of the schemes news organisations are running to attract diverse talent, they must ensure current members of staff who are in charge of recruiting know what their company is looking for.

"While there is an intention from the top, we have to make sure that the people doing the hiring at every level understand our business priorities and why this is such a priority for us," said Cairns.

"We hold unconscious bias training for those recruiting to ensure that everyone knows the danger signs [of unconscious bias], and that they know what they are really looking for – we've got to get that right."

Sonali Shah, a journalist at the BBC, agreed, noting that broadcasters should be careful not to have a preconceived idea of what a diverse person should be like or look like.

"If you're going to hire diversely, let them look diverse, sound diverse and be diverse – don't have people fit your mould," Shah said.

Free daily newsletter

If you like our news and feature articles, you can sign up to receive our free daily (Mon-Fri) email newsletter (mobile friendly).