BBC radio host claims having 'too many white colleagues' at work affects his mental health

BBC Radio 5 Live host Nihal Arthanayake asserted that an "overwhelmingly white" workplace was affecting his mental health and claimed people were leaving BBC over the matter.

Speaking at the Journalism Diversity Fund's annual equality, diversity and inclusion conference at BBC Media City in England Wednesday, Arthanayake said: “It’s really affecting me that I walk in and all I see is white people.”

He claimed that his colleagues replied they were not being racist in defense when he said this to them at one point, The Independent reports. He told them they were missing the point.

“I’ve seen a lot of people leave this building because they couldn’t deal with the culture," he stated. “I’ve seen a lot of people leave this building because they couldn’t deal with the culture.”

He added, “I don’t think there’s a single Muslim involved in the senior editorial processes.

“The hardest thing is to walk into a room, look around and nobody looks like you.

"Since moving up here, being called the p-word – that didn’t happen in London. You’d get a slap for that in London, not even from me."

Arthanayake said he is always “looking for the bully in the playground," reminiscent of his days at a state school in Essex. “It’s survival instinct that carries on to this day.”

The Journalism Diversity Fund (JDF) awards bursaries to aspiring "diverse" journalists who do not have the financial means to support themselves through their training.

Following the interview, a BBC Radio 5 Live producer, Cheryl Varley said the organization is committed to tackling the lack of diversity in its newsrooms.

While she was giving JDF bursary recipients a tour of the newsroom at the end of the conference, she told them: "The BBC needs you a lot more than you need them because if we do not represent our audience, the future for the BBC is grim."

A BBC spokesperson said: "Events like this one today are instrumental in bringing new talent in as we work towards making our organisation as inclusive as possible.

"We want everyone who works at the BBC - and those considering a career with us - to know we are focussed on creating an inclusive culture where everyone feels they belong.

"We believe we should be setting the highest standards on diversity and we recognise that there is still more we could do, therefore we have clear plans in place to improve the diversity of our workforce."

Image: Title: Nihal BBC


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