How women in media are #pushingforprogress

MCN's Head of People and Culture, Lauren Winters, talks about the movement for gender equality in today's society.

Last week, MCN celebrated International Women’s Day and all things #PressforProgress.

It was the first time we had officially commemorated the day with a number of events for women in leadership; and as someone who has championed the initiative for almost a decade, it was a wonderfully successful culmination of years spent persisting and planning.

So why has formal observance of this day seemed so out of reach in the past? And not just for MCN, but across the wider industry?

We know all about quotas. We know all about gender pay parity and how long it’s going to take (200+ years!) to reach it. We know how significant it is to have equal gender representation at a senior executive and managerial level. We know that on average, women earn $233 a week (15.3%) less than their male counterparts – and a whopping 23% less for women in the Media and Advertising space. They hold only 13.7% of chair positions and less than 25% of directorships. Across all Australian workplaces, women represent only 16.5% of CEOs.*

For too long, women have taken a back seat in setting the agenda, we may feel we don’t have the voice or think it’s outside our remit to challenge the status quo. But, over the last 18 months, the industry has been subtly shifting, with some inspiring ladies leading the charge.

Last year, Dr Kirstin Ferguson, board member for the ABC and other notable groups, led the campaign #CelebratingWomen with the objective of making female role models more visible. She profiled two women per day across all social media outlets. It went global.

Australian journalist, Tracey Spicer, committed to investigating the #MeToo movement in the Australian Media industry, where she has been instrumental in exposing some our worst male offenders.

In 2017, the 3% Movement delivered their inaugural conference to Australia, highlighting the fact that the number of global female Creative Directors sits at a pitiful 3%. In recent times, the movement has helped increase that to over 11%. 

And just last week, a team of British advertising creatives released their #Adpology campaign, which apologises for the ongoing portrayal of sexism in advertising campaigns. Though presented tongue-in-cheek, the message was clear.

So, how do we continue to set the tone and be part of the vision? I believe we can all help #PushForProgress, and it doesn’t have to be big:

  • Start a conversation
  • Engage at grassroots and encourage the next generation to get involved
  • Make it tangible through diversity and inclusion strategies and committing to quotas
  • Develop a mentoring program that brings women together

Let’s hustle ladies and create change!

*Reports from the WGEA, ‘Gender Workplace Statistics at a Glance’, February 2018.