Global news outlet, Bloomberg, has hosted the New Voices media training programme for several years, providing workshops for female executives in business and finance across the globe. The initiative aims to amplify the voices of under-represented executives across financial media platforms around the world. Since its launch, more than 250 female executives have received New Voices media training and made more than 700 media appearances on Bloomberg platforms, increasing the female representation of external guests to 27 per cent. The programme was recently extended to executives in Australia and New Zealand, and Bloomberg will be hosting the workshops virtually from Sydney this year.
Telum spoke to Bloomberg's Managing Editor (Australia and New Zealand), Rebecca Jones, and Senior Executive Editor, Laura Zelenko about the New Voices initiative's roll-out in Australia.
Rebecca Jones, Managing Editor (Australia and New Zealand) at Bloomberg:
Why launch New Voices again in Sydney this year?
For Bloomberg, there was never a more important time to offer a programme promoting women and other diverse executives as sources in both online and on-air content. The recent uproar, triggered by allegations of workplace sexism in Australia’s parliament and the corporate world, has fuelled a push for change that is likely to be sustained. We saw this with the nationwide protests in March, and the shareholder outrage after a raft of serious infringements surfaced at some of our biggest companies.
How will the initiative run across the ANZ region?
We will run New Voices Sydney training again virtually this year, due to pandemic-related restrictions.
How conscious are you of the lack of female executive voices in media coverage in Australia and New Zealand?
Research from the Women's Leadership Institute of Australia showed
women account for just 18 per cent of quotes in finance and finance stories across the nation's top 15 news sites. But at Bloomberg, we look at this as a global challenge for our news organisation. We track our representation in coverage team by team, bureau by bureau, and region by region to make sure we are consistently increasing our representation.
How much of this lack of representation reflects the make-up of boardrooms and senior executive teams in ANZ?
This work is harder because of lower representation in C suites and on corporate boards globally, but that is not an excuse. Australia is above the average of OECD countries, but behind other members such as Italy, France and New Zealand.
What can companies do to address this issue?
They can think about giving more visibility to women. We started the New Voices initiative to make sure our coverage is as fair and balanced and accurate as it can be, because that is what our readers depend on. Companies can support this by thinking strategically about the opportunities they give not only senior women, but mid-level and junior women, as well as other underrepresented groups.
Laura Zelenko, Senior Executive Editor at Bloomberg:
Tell us about the New Voices campaign. What inspired this initiative and what are its objectives?
The initiative was inspired by a recognition that previous efforts to bring more female voices into our coverage failed to take hold. In early 2018, the percentage of women brought onto Bloomberg TV as outside guests was only at 10 er cent - far lower than we thought. And it was important that we take urgent and intentional steps to fix that in order to improve our coverage.
Tell us about the response to the initiative, globally and in the Asia Pacific region.
The response has been extraordinary in cities around the globe. We rolled out New Voices media training for senior female executives in business and finance in 11 cities, including four in the APAC region: Sydney, Mumbai, Singapore, and Hong Kong. We see a consistent enthusiasm from the participants. Many have already appeared on Bloomberg TV and other media outlets numerous times.
What are some of the most interesting findings in your work across this space?
The work requires constant messaging and behavioural change. This kind of change isn't easy for journalists, who are accustomed to working quickly and returning to the same sources as a matter of efficiency. Our newsroom also needed to build new tools and experiment with new processes to show that diversifying our sourcing was doable and effective at improving our coverage.
How important is it to track the campaign's progress and how do you do it?
Without the data, it is hard for people to appreciate the urgency needed to change the status quo. We report out our progress to keep people motivated for change. We have developed systems to track representation in every region and share the data weekly. We have also created a way to keep a searchable database of female experts around the world updated and continue to expand it. It includes built-in tools to track sourcing in print stories by team and by bureau, etc. We are currently expanding source tracking to other platforms as well.