EW Group was commissioned by the BBC in March 2007 to undertake a consultation to inform the development of their Gender Equality Scheme.
The BBC had designed an online consultation questionnaire and arranged four focus groups to be held across the UK. Equality Works designed and facilitated the focus groups; analysed the responses to the online questionnaire; and produced a report summarising the findings of both strands of the consultation.
The focus-group participants were drawn from a cross section of organisations and included BME people, disabled people, lesbian and gay people and transgender people. As these groups are often under-represented in consultation it was important to ensure that they felt comfortable to contribute to the sessions.
We conducted in-depth research and consultation exercises with Senior BBC staff to gather background information about the BBC’s functions and identify potential issues relevant to gender equality. The information we gathered after analysis enabled us to produce an information pack for focus group participants about the three topics on which the BBC was particularly keen to seek feedback: the BBC Trust and its consultation work; TV Licensing; and the Digital Switchover.
The comprehensive literature research and analysis also helped us to plan the questions and structure for the sessions to ensure that participants – both individuals and representatives of organisations – felt informed and empowered to contribute and also had ample opportunity to feedback on other areas of the BBC’s work.
We conducted focus groups in Manchester, London, Cardiff and Glasgow. We used a mixture of activities during the focus groups, tailored to the three topic areas, to maximise feedback.
The content of the focus groups (which were approximately 2.5 hours long) included:
A brief presentation outlining the remit and programme which included the facilitator listening to focus group participants’ expectations;
An introductory activity which involved participants in reviewing examples of existing BBC good practice (identified from initial literature research) in each of the three topic areas;
Activities to explore each of the three topic areas in more depth, to identify barriers faced by particular groups in relation to gender, and for participants to make suggestions for improvements. These activities used a different method of discussion each time, including pair-work, small group and whole group discussions;
Allocated time for open discussion during the focus group enabling participants to raise any issues or views not covered during the structured activities and to ensure expectations were met.
On completing the focus groups, writing up our findings and analysing the questionnaires, we produced a report which presented background information about the BBC’s functions, key findings from focus groups and statistics and quotes from the survey in order to evidence a series of recommended actions for the BBC.
The entire process was successfully completed in approximately three weeks from the date we were appointed, meeting the timescales set by the BBC.