Thought Leadership

“Inclusion is one of the biggest issues we face as a business”

ITV CEO Dame Carolyn McCall on wellbeing, resilience and workplace culture.

Izzy Ashton

Deputy Editor, BITE


Dame Carolyn McCall, CEO of ITV, has urged the creative industries to move beyond business as usual and “get beyond the statistics” to embrace inclusion and diversity.

Speaking at a NABS event held at Havas London and chaired by BITE’s managing editor Nicola Kemp, McCall explained that inclusion is one of the biggest issues we face as a business. She went on to outline how, if a company culture isn’t inclusive, it will lead to staff leaving. McCall says that it is key to have CEOs and board members who are willing to disrupt business as usual: “You can talk about diversity and inclusion all you want but unless you enforce it and have the will to do it, it won’t happen.” McCall says she has always believed in the “business case for diversity” calling it a “no-brainer.”

McCall shared how ITV has placed inclusion at the heart of its processes and business, from the workshops they host to the networks that provide daily support to members of staff.

She also revealed the internal impact of working with CALM and adam&eveDDB on the ground-breaking ‘Project 84’ campaign, which raised awareness of male suicide. McCall explained how the work helped to kick start many more internal conversations about mental health. The work made them question whether they were doing enough. For McCall, what was essential was that the changes they introduced off the back of those conversations were “not imposed or facilitated; it was organic.”

The importance of culture

The importance of finding the right culture to building a successful career in the creative industries, was also top of the agenda in the wide-ranging discussion. “If you don’t have the right culture, you won’t thrive; you’ll feel suffocated,” McCall explained.

She highlighted the importance of finding the right culture for your career to thrive. She noted that a lot of the work that comes with changing culture can only take place when you reach a senior enough role. When you’re more junior, or thinking of a career shift, what’s vital especially for those feeling unfulfilled at work, is to move to a place where, as McCall says, “You get the culture and they get you.”

The importance of wellbeing to building an inclusive workplace and the duty of care that employers have to their staff was also a key topic of discussion. McCall spoke of the duty of care the broadcaster has towards on-screen talent and staff across the board. She noted the evolution of the support that is on offer to contestants on Love Island in the wake of instant fame afforded by social media. McCall is adamant that, “it’s good that duty of care is scrutinised; it’s good that we’re held to account.”

For McCall, the importance of balance cannot be underestimated. But, she says, this looks like more than just family and work. What’s vital is to “set your own boundaries to find your balance.” For McCall, this means finding an outlet from which you can draw your energy whether that’s learning a language or playing tennis. As she says, “as you go through your career, you’ll need that.”

NABS is launching a brand new one-day conference on wellbeing, Wellfest 2019 on Tuesday 12th November. Tickets are available here.

Related Tags

Diversity Inclusion