Nihal claims ‘Overwhelmingly White’ Workplace affects Mental Health

BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Nihal Arthanayake has claimed that an “overwhelmingly white” workplace is affecting his mental health.

Nihal says Asians avoid 'White & Middle Class' Countryside f

"I've seen a lot of people leave this building"

Nihal Arthanayake has said an “overwhelmingly white” workplace is affecting his mental health.

At a journalism diversity conference, the BBC Radio 5 Live presenter said:

“It’s really affecting me that I walk in and all I see is white people.”

Nihal told the Journalism Diversity Fund (JDF) conference at BBC Media City in Salford that the “culture” was causing many people to leave the company.

He said: “I’ve seen a lot of people leave this building because they couldn’t deal with the culture.”

Nihal also said others found they had to try to be a certain type of person in order to progress at the BBC, adding:

“If you want journalists to progress, they have to be who they are.

“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.”

Nihal made the comments during an onstage interview with Jo Adetunji, editor of The Conversation.

The JDF awards bursaries to aspiring journalists from diverse backgrounds who struggle to support themselves financially during their training.

Nihal has lived in London for 20 years and since moving north, he has noticed a difference.

He said: “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.”

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

When inviting the JDF bursary recipients for a tour of the newsroom, 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.”

Nihal’s comments led to criticism on social media, with many accusing the presenter of being racist.

Conservative MP Harvey Proctor tweeted:

“This is absurd from BBC 5 Live presenter, Nihal Arthanayake.”

“Imagine the outcry if a white person said that an ‘overwhelmingly’ black working environment was negatively impacting their mental health?

“They would be condemned as a racist at best and ‘cancelled’.

“He is in a predominantly white country – does that affect him? His comments bring genuine mental health issues into disrepute.”

Another asked: “Is it just me or is this a really horrible thing for someone to say?”

Dhiren is a journalism graduate with a passion for gaming, watching films and sports. He also enjoys cooking from time to time. His motto is to “Live life one day at a time.”

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