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Women and making career in media

An action plan to promote women careers in media

Women hold on average just 10% of business leadership positions (CEO or Chair) in major news outlets in 17 countries, according to an analysis by publisher organisation WAN-IFRA. On the editorial front, women make up just 31% of editorial leads. The organisation has published a six-point action plan.

Melanie Walker, WAN-IFRA’s Media Development Executive Director and Gender Lead, writes that combined results  paint a damning picture overall: women continue to be excluded from the highest rankings of power and editorial decision making within global media. Her six-point action plan in short:

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  • Conduct a diversity audit: Establish the breakdown of your staff – and management team – by gender and other relevant diversity categories.
  • Organise gender equality, diversity and inclusion training for your management team. 
  • Ensure health benefits, pensions or stock options are available equally. Whatever you make available to your employees, ensure they are also available for any type of family situation or partnership. 
  • Make compensation and employment opportunities equitable. Review your pay scales to ensure that all employees of similar experience and skills are compensated at the same rate. Consider a continuation of flexible office and work hours that were brought on by the global pandemic. 
  • Identify high-potential employees of various diversity categories and include them in your succession planning;
  • Be explicit and public in your commitment to gender equality, diversity and inclusion and what that means for your media organisation. 
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WAN-IFRA notes that women journalists receive insufficient development support. 

“They are also affected by gender-specific challenges – such as sexual harassment, unequal pay and threats of violence – that push them out of the industry prematurely.” 

“Women’s progression in the media is also curtailed by invisible walls, including biases and stereotypes about their leadership, capabilities and aspirations. These hurdles are created by, or reinforced through, systemic and process aspects of organisations.”

“As a result, succession planning must deliberately centre women. Various studies have found that where women are in top leadership positions, businesses have: improved financial performance; strengthened organisational climates; increased corporate social responsibility and reputation; talent is leveraged better; innovation and collective intelligence are enhanced; and crises are handled better.”

“The ethical and moral case for equal ratios of women and men in media leadership is indisputable – so is the business case”, WAN-IFRA says.

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