Sign off on 14 principles to end misogyny in the news industry

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We, members of the international journalism community, are not prepared to sit through another ‘manel’, support organisations that disingenuously claim credit for gender equality initiatives, nor stay silent when female colleagues are sexually harassed before our eyes.

Our industry has a responsibility to lead on gender equality in, and through, the media – broader social change depends upon it.

Which is why we call on news makers and news readers alike to sign off on standards to which we will hold our news providers accountable.

Because we are done pandering to the egos of change-resistant influential men in the hope that our gentle lead will eventually encourage them to join us on a meander towards gender equality in the news business. Time is well and truly up.

Read the whole open Letter to end misogyny in the news here.

14 PRINCIPLES OF GENDER EQUALITY FOR THE NEWS INDUSTRY

1. Insist on gender equality in and through the media:  Globally, women represent well under 30% of leadership positions in newsrooms making the narrative of most publications skewed to the male perspective. Recent studies also show that mainstream newspaper journalists and commentators are dominated by men talking about what other men are doing. This imbalance is directly reflected in content, and in curation of panels and moderators at events throughout the news industry. It’s 2018 -  push back and make sure you/your organisation are not contributing to the problem. Bloomberg News’ recipe for embedding gender equality is a useful guide.

2. Use data to drive inclusive representation on panels, in leadership, on stage: “If you can’t count it, you can’t change it” This great point from Joanne Lipman is an important starting place. Most organisations feel that gender inequality is not their problem. But taking the time to map and measure is the only way to be sure. Track the gender of bylined authors, sources, speakers and editors to see how balanced your teams and content really are. Simply counting can lead to change. (Read about/listen to Lipman’s approach to leveraging data in the cause:) . Check out the BBC 50:50 gender balance challenge created by Ros Atkins, and see the toolkit produced by Gender Avenger. Also consider sharing these metrics so you can be held accountable in a spirit of transparency which should also help build trust in your organisation.

3. Call out sexual harassment and tackle it head on (on and offline): “I deeply believe we need an overall code of conduct for men to LEARN how not to treat women in professional setting. There is a lot to learn” Mariana Santos, Founder of ChicasPoderosas, has said. News organisations certainly need  detailed policies that deal decisively with harassment - on and offline. See Press Forward’s resources and read Julie Posetti’s 11-step guide to managing online harassment in newsrooms.

4. Don’t ghettoise gender-equality initiatives: Schedule feature content designed to empower women sources, journalists and editors on the main program, center stage, and on the front page. This is vital if the issues are to be taken seriously, and to ensure male participants are also educated and motivated to embrace change and collaborate on gender equality initiatives. “To relegate issues about women is double-binding - because it makes it a ghetto”- Catarina Carvalho, Editor in Chief, Global Media Group.

5. Create opportunities for women’s active participation: Consider sponsoring women (particularly those in low socio-economic circumstances) speakers and moderators - they generally have less economic power than their male counterparts. And what about sponsoring creche places to accommodate female professionals with primary care responsibilities for young children? (See also Hannah Storm’s 13 suggestions for a more inclusive conference)


6. Insist your partner organisations and contracted contributors abide by principles of gender equality: Ensure all conference partners, sponsors, moderators and speakers are aware of, have access to, and abide by organisational policies and codes of conduct on sexual harassment and gender equality.


7. Sponsors: consider using the funding stick to enforce gender equality standards Sponsors of journalism/media conferences & events should make funding contingent upon gender balance in the content, or directly fund female speakers and moderators. Audit content thoroughly after events and publication, and consider withholding funding if equality is not achieved as promised. Facebook, Google, Twitter, we’re looking at you (along with an array of Northern European media development funds and intergovernmental organisations). Alternatively, perhaps consider the carrot of a funding bonus for success?


8. Share the platform: If your event must include speakers or panels from partner organisations or sponsors, insist they nominate a woman/women with expertise. And if you’re a male executive asked to represent your organisation as a speaker, consider nominating a more junior woman to take your place. Experience grows from opportunity.


9. Mind conversation culture: Male dominance on panels and in meetings, interruption of women who are speaking, or explaining to women things they are perfectly aware of (‘mansplaining’) are the most common ways that women’s voices are silenced in work environments. Making your team sensitive to this and measuring contributions with simple apps (like this one) can help foster an environment where women can thrive.


10. Edit bias out of your hiring and selection  processes: The human brain is designed to use bias to navigate complex reality. It is not, however, designed to create equitable hiring and panelist selection procedures. We have to design programs and mechanisms to correct for bias by hand. For help, see Iris Bohnet’s (Harvard Kennedy School) recommendations on designing a bias free organization.


11. Sponsorship from the top: Achieving balance can’t happen as a grass-roots initiative. Without buy-in from the top, gender initiatives will pop up and peter out. Men sponsoring talented women for promotion is one of the best ways to set an example for management and build diversity into leadership. Adam Grant has some great advice on how to do this if men in your organization are nervous about mentoring and sponsoring women in the post-Weinstein world.


12. To pay equally, negotiate differently: Orit Kopel, CEO of the Jimmy Wales Foundation for freedom of expression and co-founder of WikiTribune, says that the responsibility for equal pay rests with the employer, not the employee. To pay women equally, don’t abuse women’s tendency to undervalue their contribution - give raises to those who deserve them, rather than to those who demand them.


13. Let women pull back and lean in when ready: Just because a woman refuses promotion when she wants to focus more on her family, doesn’t mean she will never want to put her career in high gear again. Many women choose to focus on their children when they are small. Once kids reach a certain level of independence, their parents’ capacity to ‘lean in’ tends to rebound in a big way. So, if a star player refuses once, try again.


14. Apply all of the above in reference to diversity more broadly. This includes race, class, and sexual orientation.



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