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Over-emphasising disability on TV ‘may be counterproductive to diversity effort’

Over-emphasising disability on screen may be counterproductive, it has been suggested (PA)
Over-emphasising disability on screen may be counterproductive, it has been suggested (PA)

Over-emphasising disability on screen may be “counterproductive” to promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace, the president of ViacomCBS has said.

Maria Kyriacou, who oversees the corporation, said the industry was “falling behind” with its approach to disability and that employee trust was “essential” to promoting an equitable work environment.

Speaking to Channel 5 presenter Claudia-Liza Vanderpuije as part of Channel 4’s Inclusion Festival, Ms Kyriacou said the issue had many facets and people were not always comfortable in sharing their personal information.

“Disability remains a big challenge for all of us in the industry and I think we have a long way to go in terms of building trust and the infrastructure and environment to speak freely,” she said

“It’s not always visible and people don’t always want to share because they don’t want it held against them.

“(We need) to recognise that it is one attribute out of many for people.

“Overly emphasising it on screen, for example, may be counterproductive, what you really want to do is have it seamlessly.

“If an individual is a PhD, a mother and has suffered from mental health for most of her adult life she has many facets to her and you need to treat a person as a whole rather than just one thing.”

Ms Kyriacou noted the need for “equity not equality” in the workplace, explaining that the former allowed for differences between people and put measures in place to counter them and provide equal opportunity.

“Given what we’ve been through with Covid and given that we are all now steadily, gradually safely returning to office environments, having people trust you is essential,” she said.

“Sharing their data, sharing their stories, feeling they can speak and what they say is taken in a positive way because it allows other people to share their stories is really critical.”

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