In connection with International Women’s Day today, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has published a new report on gender equality within the EBU’s member organisations. The report is based on a survey conducted at 76 television and radio broadcasters in 56 countries and shows that the balance between men and women has improved in recent years.
According to the survey, 45 per cent of employees in the 76 public service broadcasters are women; for the radio broadcasters in general the rate is 48.9 per cent and for Swedish Radio the same figure is 51 per cent.
For Swedish Radio, similar rates were found among managers – 49 per cent men and 51 per cent women. This is important to me as Director General of Swedish Radio. I believe in organisations where there is gender equality across the board, right up to the highest level of executive management.
Furthermore it is absolutely crucial for Swedish Radio in order to be able to live up to our remit; gender equality being one of many aspects that needs to be taken into account. Our remit means that the whole of Sweden needs to be represented in our programming, so clearly it is also important that Sweden’s diversity is represented among those of us who work here. More perspectives and more experiences translate into a broader range of thoughts and ideas, and this also makes us more relevant to our listeners. At Swedish Radio, we no longer just talk about the importance of a balance between men and women, but also about the importance of diversity in general. By diversity, I mean people in a group who contribute knowledge, approaches, perspectives or networks other than those already in the group as a whole.
It’s not a question of fairness, it’s a question of quality.
Amongst the 76 public service broadcasters included in the survey, only one in four of top-level executives are women. While this is scarcely a figure to boast about, it is still four times better than the same figure for publicly listed companies. And the trend is moving in the right direction – from 13 per cent in 2015 to 24 per cent in 2019.
Five out of the seven public service broadcasters in the Nordic countries have top executives who are women: in Sweden myself, Hannah Stjärne at Swedish Television (SVT) and Sofia Wadensjö-Karén at UR (Swedish Educational Broadcasting Company). In Denmark, Maria Rørbye Rønn is Director General of the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR), and in Finland, Merja Yla-Anttila is CEO of the Finnish Broadcasting Corporation (YLE).
As Director General, along with others within Swedish Radio's management, I will continue to recruit consciously at all levels. If we do not have a sufficiently broad and balanced representation among our co-workers, we will be all the poorer at producing content that the vast majority of Sweden’s population will be able to recognise themselves in, and make them feel valued for the individuals that they are. For me this is not some ideal state, but quite simply a wholly reasonable key success factor if we are to be Swedish Radio for all of Sweden.