BLOG published on 08 Mar 2019

Balance for Better

International Women’s Day has been marked throughout the world for over 100 years.

The battle for gender equality has made huge strides in the intervening years, particularly when we consider the level of opposition that it has experienced.

However, according to a recent study by the WEF, we won’t see the global gender gap close completely for more than another 100 years.

This year’s International Women’s Day give us all an opportunity to take a step back and ask some challenging questions on how we really achieve #balanceforbetter.

Gender Equality & PSM

Public service media is making great strides towards gender parity (as our new study shows). Our PSM Members employ over 110, 000 women between them, 45% of the total PSM workforce and 5% more than the rest of the EU audiovisual sector.

Women are also increasingly making inroads into more senior positions. 40% of EBU PSM managers are female1 and 24% of our Director Generals.  The number of female DGs has doubled in the last four years and is four times the average for all publicly-listed companies.

So, yes, we should celebrate the huge progress that public service media has made and the example it is setting to the rest of the industry.

However, that still means that 76% of our PSM member organizations are headed by men. Gender parity at the top still has a long way to go.

By working together as a Union, I believe we can drive real change - sharing best practise and learning from the example of some of our Members who are leading the way in closing the gender gap.

The Nordics, for example, are exemplary in terms of gender equality. Most of them have reached gender parity both at overall level and managerial level. SVT in Sweden now have 56% female managers while NRK (Norway), SR (Sweden) and YLE (Finland) have all surpassed the 50% mark.

Our Executive Board Member Cilla Benko, DG of SR, has written of their success in recruiting female talent. They have been experimenting with new ways of attracting more diverse applicants such as lowering thresholds in job listings or pro-actively targeting relevant groups on Facebook with information about SR’s innovation and work culture, resulting in a rise in female applicants.

Many of our organizations now have gender equality plans that are regularly monitored and updated and look at addressing issues such as equal opportunities, equal pay, work/life balance and protection from sexual harassment and discrimination.

Our Members are taking a wide range of actions to diversify recruitment and promotion including looking in particular at under-represented professions like ICT (where women make up only 16% of the EU workforce). For example, we are working with the BBC on the annual ‘Girls in ICT’ day, providing a live link into their events in the UK to encourage young girls to consider technical careers. While ARD/ZDF have launched a ‘Women and Media Technology Award’ to honour women with particularly innovative ideas and give them a greater profile in the industry.

The EBU Executive Board, led by our President Tony Hall, have just set up a Gender Balance for Members initiative that will look at the policies that have already been implemented by broadcasters on gender equality, identifying the arguments for them and collecting them into a set of guidelines for media companies wanting to address gender equality.

Progress at the EBU

And, here at the EBU, we are also making sure that we are practising what we preach. Our Human Resources department have initiated a wide ranging programme which has seen female manager representation nearly double to 32% in the last eighteen months.

Our inhouse Gender Equality Focus Group is looking at issues around leadership, equal pay, company culture and representation at the EBU.

Today, we are launching a new speaker policy that sets a minimum target of 30% female speakers at all our events. A target we hope we can rapidly surpass. We will also be banning all-male panels at our events and boycotting speaking on all-male panels at external events.

It’s all our responsibility to uphold the values of public service media and reflect the diversity of the audience we serve.

This isn’t just the ‘right thing to do’ but, as numerous research studies have shown, it will increase the quality of our work and lead to better, more innovative outcomes for everyone involved.

Public service media really is leading the way in driving change and I truly believe that by working together we won’t have to wait another 100 years to see the gender gap close in our industry.

1 Based on a sample of 15 PSM Members for whom data was available

Relevant Links

Gender & PSM
EBU Speaker Policy

Written by

Noel Curran
Director General

+41 22 717 2005