Evan Davis: There are more gay people at the BBC than you would think
One of the BBC’s most influential presenters Evan Davis, has praised the corporation for its efforts towards diversity.
Speaking to PinkNews at the AudaCity event at London’s Guildhall, hosted by Lord Mayor Fiona Woolf, Davis said: “You could not imagine a more comfortable place to be gay than the BBC.”
He was the BBC’s economics correspondent before joining the Today programme and is the host of Dragon’s Den.
When asked if there were more gay people working in light entertainment than those like him working on hard news, he disagreed.
“When you say ‘who is gay at the BBC?’ Most people immediately think of Graham Norton but there are a lot of gay people at the BBC in news and business coverage who don’t happen to sing about it. I think that’s a good thing and the battle for the next 10-15 years is to make being gay not a big deal.”
Speaking after he compered an event promoting diversity in the City of London’s businesses, Davis said that there were advantages to being gay in the media.
“I’m basically a very boring person,” he said, “and, in Medialand, being gay makes you a little more interesting than you would otherwise be.”
Although keen to stress that the BBC is trying its best to achieve diversity, he admitted that there were still problems.
“In the media, as in society as a whole, trans people are vastly less visible than lesbian and gay people,” he said.
On the other hand, Davis said that “everyone at the BBC would be very keen” to make sure that someone being trans was not a problem for them in the workplace.
“I think that acceptance of trans people has reached a tipping point in the last twenty years nationally,” he said.
The biggest problem though, according to Davis, is the lack of visible older women.
“On the news you often have a middle aged man looking intelligent and stately with a glamorous, younger woman. That’s the way TV has often worked and the BBC is not immune from it.”
Davis also warned LGBT people against seeing their LGBT status as the cause of all their rejections.
“If you think too hard about it, you’ll feel that discrimination is core to your personality. So if you have squiffy eyes, as I do, then you will feel that rejection is due to your squiffy eyes. That being said, I’m sure there is discrimination.”
LGBT people can be disadvantaged by the fact that the City is a network and people, quite reasonably according to Davis, mix their social and working lives.
If people are networking by taking their clients to a strip club, playing golf or acting laddishly in the pub and talking about sports then that can exclude many LGBT people, Evans said.
The fact that many employers are cutting recruitment costs by using their networks makes the problem worse.
“Networking can be especially stressful if you haven’t come out to your colleagues,” Davis said, “so I would recommend coming out on the first day.”
“If you start lying and making up girlfriends then you will get into some nightmare scenarios,” he said.