The production company behind Hollyoaks is launching a new guardians scheme, spearheaded by the Old Vic theatre, in a bid to tackle racial inequality among its cast and crew.
Lime Pictures, which produces the soap, is introducing new measures after one of its stars, Rachel Adedeji, said she had experienced racism while working on the show.
In an introduction to the 17-page document, managing directors Kate Little and Claire Poyser say: “As a community and company, we have clearly got some things wrong.
“Together we will improve and learn from our mistakes.”
The “inclusivity action plan” sets out a number of areas including training, outreach, creative inclusivity and hair and make-up.
It proposes to launch a peer-led volunteer support programme, The Lime Guardians, to provide neutral and confidential assistance as people consider how to respond to concerns.
The Old Vic Theatre Company launched its own guardians scheme for those who had suffered abuse following allegations levelled at former director Kevin Spacey.
The document says: “Guardians programmes have worked very positively in other creative companies and were spearheaded by the Old Vic Theatre Company.”
Hollyoaks is also introducing a new cast liaison role dedicated to supporting artists.
The soap has also hired Verna McKenzie as a Caribbean cultural adviser, joining the soap’s Pentecostal faith and Islamic cultural advisers.
The Only Way Is Essex, also produced by Lime Pictures, has hired a welfare executive officer, an independent position sitting outside of production, whose role is to support the cast.
Lime Pictures is looking to roll out a similar structure across all its unscripted shows.
The company will also establish a Lime Values Board consisting mostly of external appointments, along with members of its own management team.
It will meet every quarter to set and review targets relating to inclusivity.
Lime Pictures is also undertaking a review of its recruitment practices for staff and freelancers, looking at when, where and how they recruit.
They will also be taking on external partners, including Mama Youth, which trains young people from under-represented backgrounds for roles in the media industry.
A new recruitment process will be agreed with the Lime Values Board.
The document also commits to a review of the hair and make-up department and further training for those involved in recruitment, performance review and staff development.
In a final section, the document addresses “a number of individual complaints or issues” that have been “raised or highlighted, confidentially or on social media” in recent weeks.
It continues: “We would like to assure you that all complaints have been investigated thoroughly and we have taken or are taking appropriate action.”
In June, Hollyoaks launched an investigation into claims made by Adedeji that she had experienced racism while working on Hollyoaks.
Adedeji said the “experiences I have encountered are a constant reminder of how difficult it is being a black woman in the industry”.
Following a review the Channel 4 series committed to introducing new measures – including bringing in “unconscious bias trainers” – to tackle racial inequality among its cast and crew.