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Postcards from Scotland

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Carol Craig is the Centre's Chief Executive. She is author of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, Creating Confidence: A Handbook for Professionals Working with Young People, The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow and The Great Takeover: How materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. She is Commissioning editor for the Postcards from Scotland series. Carol blogs on confidence, well-being, inequality, every day life and some of the great challenges of our time. The views she expresses are her own unless she specifically states that they reflect the Centre's thinking.

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Posted 25/10/2012

The controversy over the BBC and Jimmy Savile have made me reflect on my own experience of BBC culture. I worked  for almost a decade from the end of the 1970s as a researcher in BBC Scotland's current affairs tv department and then as an Education Officer, based in Scotland, but working for a London Department. The post was made redundant and I  then left formal employment with the corporation. However I was asked to chair BBC Scotland's Equal Opportunities Committee and did so for seven years. During that time I also ran numerous training courses for staff.

While working at the BBC I met lots of people who I really liked as individuals and who I still consider friends. Nonetheless working for the BBC was not a particularly positive experience and I know from running countless courses there that's true for lots of employees. In those days (and perhaps even now) had a rather cavalier attitude to staff – like it or lump it as there are lots of folk who would love to take up your job, is how I'd sum it up. True no doubt but not great for staff morale.

There was also a fair amount of bullying.  Indeed the assertiveness courses I ran always had a couple of individuals who wanted to know how to cope with more senior folk who routinely humiliated  or bullied them. The worst culprits when I was there were two female radio presenters and a few male television production staff. One tv news producer, still around Scotland's media scene, was famed for shouting and swearing at camera operators and vt staff. Some of these guys even came on my courses and admitted that they felt so put down by the treatment. They also said that the behaviour was counterproductive – it made them so angry and stressed that they were less likely to concentrate and so they did then end up missing shots.

Senior management in the BBC were aware of this behaviour yet mainly turned a blind eye. The producer did ultimately get made redundant but, as far I know, was never formally upbraided for his behaviour. The presenters got away with treating a lot of their colleagues with contempt. I know it sounds old fashioned but I always argued that there needed to be clear standards of behaviour.

As for sexism and predatory managers I never found the BBC as bad as other organisations I had worked for, or my experience at university for that matter.  These issues didn't come up on courses either so it certainly doesn't seem to have been widespread.

During the period I worked for the Corporation I was continually taken aback by how much kudos it gained you in others' eyes. Just saying you worked for the BBC (no matter what the job) seemed to impress folk. However, unless you were one of the corporation's top performers, working for the BBC was, in my experience anyway, much more likely to bleed rather than instil confidence, in staff.  No wonder assertiveness courses were so popular.

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