For business sake, the media industry must step up gender equality

For business sake, the media industry must step up gender equality

This article was submitted by Women in Media.

Women in Media recently released its inaugural research of crucial issues of importance to women working in our sector, which includes journalism, communications, production, public relations, publishing and digital media.

The Women in Media Industry Insight Report 2022 highlights a demand for transparency and programmes that address systemic gender inequity within organisations and the media industry. Pay imbalances, heavy workloads and unclear pathways to promotion are hindering career progress, particularly into leadership and management positions.

According to the data, a majority of women rate the media industry’s commitment to gender equality as weak. This is an important conversation that we all need to participate in. Women in Media believes if the industry and media employers want women to stay and thrive in their careers, we need to listen and put their voices front and centre in guiding the way.

The impact of gender equality in the media industry also has broader implications for Australian business. “If our industry - which reports regularly on issues such as gender equality - cannot step up, we can hardly criticise other sectors for the same discrimination,” said Victoria Laurie, Women in Media Patron and National Board Member.

The Report’s key findings include:
  • 84 per cent of respondents call for their organisations to implement gender pay audits to address the entrenched higher-than-average industry pay gap.
  • 41 per cent want follow-the-leader “shadowing programmes” to provide women with more access to leaders and hands-on learning.
  • 38 per cent believe support from leaders and managers is crucial to create pathways to promotion.
  • 40 per cent urge “micro-learning” to build digital skills in line with changing consumer habits.
  • More than one in two women rate the media industry’s commitment to gender equality as “somewhat weak / very weak."
“The majority of graduates starting out their careers in the media are women, yet their numbers drop off dramatically as their careers progress and by the time they reach senior ranks, men vastly outnumber women. According to the Women in Media Industry Insight Report 2022 the problem lies in an inherent lack of transparency and commitment to gender equality in the industry,” said Laurie.

“The Report is a litmus test of fairness in an industry that society would expect is prioritising gender equality - however, the majority of our members say pay is an issue, and career advancement is problematic. Our members feel overwhelmingly dissatisfied with their current career prospects.”

In response to this data, Women in Media believe there are four overarching factors that act as barriers for women over the course of their careers:
  1. Industry commitment to address gender equality and pay transparency.
  2. Pathways to promotion.
  3. Support from leadership / direct managers.
  4. Access to upskilling.
Women in Media members have identified solutions to help media organisations retain female talent and support them to excel in their careers. Society relies on media as a truth-teller, entertainer and convenor, bringing people together and sharing information. But how can the industry do this with credibility if women working in media are stagnating in their jobs?

Research has shown for some time that companies with gender-balanced workplaces have higher profitability, better decision-making processes, and stronger value propositions.

We encourage women to add their voices to this important conversation. Join Women in Media Australia, membership is free

Women in Media is a not-for-profit organisation that exists to help women in media excel, learn, contribute, and connect. With over 6000 members nationwide and branches in each state and territory, Women in Media strives to be part of the solution to addressing gender inequity in the media landscape, empowering women to secure jobs, progress in their careers and thrive at work.

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