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Addressing the underrepresentation of minorities in the political sphere and in media platforms is crucial in ensuring the legitimate continuance of our democracy.
The definition provided by Britannica:
Ethnic minorities underrepresented in political institutions
EU institutions have long discussed diversity and its values in our contemporary societies. However, when we further examine their policies and evaluate the way they operate, we are not presented with a holistic diversity strategy that fully covers the needs of all groups. Specifically, minorities have not been fairly represented politically for the past years and have been facing a rough reality, where their true needs have been systematically disregarded.
The European population is described by an enriched ethnic, cultural, racial and religious diversity. However, even if these minorities make up more than 10% of the total population in Europe, they occupy only 5% of the seats in the European Parliament. Minorities’ voice are being threatened by recent developments, mostly by the rise of far-right rhetoric, xenophobia and strong nationalism.
The risk of minorities under-representation reflects the side of the EU that continues to announce perfectly organised long plans, while not actually putting them to practice – simply because no one is making minorities groups a priority.
An issue that the representation of minorities in Europe is facing is the lack of data from officials, who have failed at gathering information and providing statistics of the minorities’ groups. In particular, we cannot know the precise number of minorities that occupy high positions, or the ones that gain promotions.
Experts believe that for as long as they are not provided with the statistics on the backgrounds of people in a workplace, concrete policies cannot be made to ensure the inclusion of minorities.
Therefore, researchers are left with a plethora of questions and they struggle to determine the complexity of the situation. This leads to empirical evidence being more challenging to obtain and analyse.
The European Network Against Racism (ENAR) encourages EU institutions and its leaders to immediately strengthen ethnic diversity and representation in their positions. They strongly encourage them to give priority and ensure that their frameworks portray the cultural, racial and ethnical richness of the EU population. This is crucial for their democratic legitimacy.
Maintaining, encouraging and promoting diversity is an essential part of any field, especially in politics where minorities are still underrepresented. This needs to be urgently addressed since decisions of this sector tend to directly affect the way we function as a community and they set ground rules that dictate how we interact with one another.
Underrepresentation of minorities in EU media
How does the public view minorities? It all depends on the way these groups are portrayed by the media.
European newsrooms are still considered to be dominated by white and middle-class, even if societies are evolving incredibly fast. Analysts have been discussing the need to include a diverse group of journalists, editors, reporters and bloggers in the media, especially those with a high audience, in order to ensure a fair representation of all people. People of colour, religious minorities, the LGBTQ+ community and more women are slowly but steadily finding their voice in the European media, but have not made it at the top.
It is interesting to look at this study conducted by the Reuters Institute for Journalism Research, which illustrates the people who occupy the positions of editors-in-chief. Their research examined editorial boards of the most popular digital and print media in different nations, including the UK, France, Sweden and Germany, providing eye opening outcomes.
The study showed that in all these media platforms there were not a non-white editor-in-chief, even the largest media companies in the UK that promote diversity in their workplace. Also, according to the study, there seemed to be a low number of journalists that came from financially disadvantaged families or below middle-class households.
How are immigrants viewed in the media?
This research demonstrates how the term ‘immigrants’ is perceived by the larger population. In particular, it seems that the word is closely associated with the concept of economic threat, due to the rise of the competition of the labour market. At the same time, the term ‘refugees’ and ‘asylum seekers’ are closely associated with a general financial burden, since they are thought to take advantage of the hosting country’s welfare system and the political facilitations.
Even if the media framing differs depending on particular migrant communities the discourse is examining, immigration reportage is in many cases biased and misleading.
European Commission vice-president Věra Jourova has stated:
The under-representation of individuals with a racial or ethnic minority background in the newsrooms, continues to be an issue that must be resolved and the European Commission is prepared to support with funding.
BBC – seen as a role model in the diversity scheme
What stands out when at the diversity discourse in media is undoubtedly the remarkable work at BBC with its diversity and inclusion strategy.
A new 2020 employment target was set with the purpose of increasing BBC apprenticeship programs to include people from all backgrounds, whilst also 10% of all BBC training programs will be dedicated for people with disabilities. The broadcaster is also focused on having women fill half of all on-air positions by the start of the next decade.
Large media companies should finally understand that diversity is linked with audience engagement. This is significant in building trust among the viewers, especially now that media is not taken very seriously by many.
Pluralism and diversity is more essential than ever and their fair representation is crucial, since it holds the power to influence and control the public opinion, as well as affect political decisions. Simultaneously, no progress will be accomplished if only a few media companies and political institutions in the EU are invested in collecting on in-house diversity and devoting themselves to a quota
Video on underrepresentation in EU institutions
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