OriginsInfo conducted analysis to determine the cultural make-up of the staff of the National Theatre in London to see how successful it was at attracting staff from diverse backgrounds.  Origins was used to analyse the names of 721 members of staff.

How well do National Theatre employees reflect London’s population?

The name analysis of the National Theatre’s staff revealed a higher percentage (56%) of staff from ‘English’ backgrounds than London’s adult population which is made up of 44% of persons with an ‘English’ name.  This indicates an over-representation compared with what would be expected if staff were representative of all London communities. In addition, people with Irish, Scottish or Welsh ancestry were found to be even more over-represented.  People of European background were well represented.  Compared with London’s population there was weaker representation of Ghanaians and Nigerians and hardly any representation of people from Asian communities, notably Tamils, Sikhs, Hindu Indians, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis.

Further analysis was completed to determine whether people from minority cultures worked in different departments.  To examine diversity at department level, names were grouped into three main segments: people with Anglo-Celtic names; people with another white European background; and people with a non-European background.  This exercise revealed that the catering department was by far the most diverse department, and the finance department was the only other department where diversity was evident.

Does discrimination occur by gender?

Using personal names, Origins was able to unambiguously assign a gender for just over 95% of employees.  It found that males slightly outnumbered females.  However although the NT payroll is balanced by gender overall, it was revealed that male and female staff tend to find themselves working in different departments.

Functions such as the stage, sound, lighting, engineering and IT are almost exclusively the preserve of male workers.  By contrast it is very rare for men to work in costumes or wigs and uncommon for them to work in finance or development. Catering and ushers, the departments with the most diversity, and perhaps the highest staff turnover, are ones with an even gender split. Among senior management and the board males outnumber females two to one.


The National Theatre is an organisation which has made a conscious effort to embrace diversity in the product that it offers.   For whatever reasons it is clear from any visit to the National Theatre that a corresponding shift has yet to occur among its audiences.  While these may include a significant number of people of non-Anglo-Celtic origin, few are of non-European origin.

This may be reflected in the disinclination of these minorities to work at the NT, other than in the finance department.  Whilst white men and white women are both attracted to jobs at the National Theatre, it would appear that the specialised culture and practices of selected departments, particularly those involved with the production rather than with direct interface with customers, can be both gender-attracting and gender-repelling.  It is noticeable that this does not appear to happen, and for good reason, in departments that dealt directly with the customer, such as the box office, ushering and catering.

Considering both Origins and gender, it is evident that aggregated statistics for the organisation as a whole reveal comparatively little.  It is only when one analyses at the level of the functional department and detailed Origins types does it become apparent how very unequally groups are employed.

Whilst the figures are not conclusive, it is difficult to believe that overt discrimination is being practiced in terms of recruitment processes.  It is more likely that specific genders and minorities are more or less attracted to work in particular departments because of the culture that they expect to find there.  Making the culture of these departments more attractive to under-represented genders and ethnic groups would seem far more challenging than removing any remaining discrimination in the recruitment process itself.