BBC staff have been told new impartiality guidelines will not prohibit them from attending Pride parades.
The new rules were set out on Thursday as part of a set of instructions and guidance, alongside new training, aiming to “ensure the highest possible standards of impartiality across the organisation”, according to the broadcaster.
But on Friday, BBC director-general Tim Davie told employees that he wanted to ensure “there is no room for misinterpretation, following inaccurate commentary and some feedback from staff – which is the ability to participate in Pride parades”.
“There is no ban on attending Pride parades,” he said, but added that staff “need to ensure that they are not seen to be taking a stand on politicised or contested issues” while at such events.
Mr Davie added: “The guidance that we published yesterday made it very clear that staff outside of news and current affairs and factual journalism may attend marches, demonstrations and protests as private individuals.
“There are different considerations for staff who work in news and current affairs and factual journalism (and senior leaders) but I want to be clear that there is no issue for these staff attending community events that are clearly celebratory or commemorative and do not compromise perceptions of their impartiality.”
Under the new rules, BBC staff were told to avoid “virtue signalling” and be cautious with their use of emojis in new social media guidelines.
The rules also tells staff working in news, current affairs and factual journalism production, such as Countryfile, The One Show and Woman’s Hour, and as well as all senior leaders, that they may not reveal how they have voted or express support for any political party.
Neither can they express views on any policy which is a matter of current political debate or on matters of public policy, political or industrial controversy, or any other “controversial subject.”
Journalists have also been told they must not support campaigns, such as through the use of hashtags “no matter how apparently worthy the cause or how much their message appears to be accepted or uncontroversial.”
The guidance says: “Use of emojis can – accidentally, or deliberately – undercut an otherwise impartial post.”
It adds: “Avoid ‘virtue signalling’ – retweets, likes or joining online campaigns to indicate a personal view, no matter how apparently worthy the cause.”
Staff are also cautioned to “be wary of ‘revealed bias’,” through the use of likes or re-posting other posts, so that a bias becomes evident, and ‘inferred bias’ where a post is impartial but loose wording allows readers to infer a bias where there is none.”
The guidelines tell all employees, regardless of their department, that they must “always behave professionally, treating others with respect and courtesy at all times: follow the BBC’s Values.”
The other rules state: “Don’t bring the BBC into disrepute. If your work requires you to maintain your impartiality, don’t express a personal opinion on matters of public policy, politics, or ‘controversial subjects’.
“Don’t criticise your colleagues in public. Respect the privacy of the workplace and the confidentiality of internal announcements.”
The corporation said a breach of the guidance may lead to disciplinary action, which could include the sack.