International Women’s Day 2024: Media industry sets out to inspire inclusion

International Women’s Day 2024: Media industry sets out to inspire inclusion

The theme for the 2024 International Women’s Day is “inspire inclusion”.

As the movement stated: “When we inspire others to understand and value women’s inclusion, we forge a better world. And when women themselves are inspired to be included, there’s a sense of belonging, relevance and empowerment.”

What does that mean in practical terms for the media industry? It ranges from flexible policies to one-on-one time with team members to challenging recruitment processes.

The Media Leader asked a selection of leading industry figures, including some of our own Top 50 Women Gamechangers in TV: how will you inspire inclusion in your team this year?

Lara Izlan, director of insights, ITV Insights Group; Top 50 Women Gamechangers in TV

“It’s important that companies set ambitious corporate targets and implement clear plans to achieve diversity, equity and inclusion. It’s equally crucial that individuals and teams be proactive in their everyday ways of working to embed change and normalise better team practices.

“As hiring managers, work closely with your resourcing team to challenge recruitment processes end to end, from job specifications to where jobs are advertised to setting fair and consistent criteria to your choice of interviewers.

“In your teams, consciously make space for all voices, be that in meetings, in curating content for team gatherings or when assigning leads for initiatives. Be systematic if you need to. As a leader, regularly challenge your own expectations for how things should be done, recognise there are multiple paths to successful delivery and celebrate the many contributions, from rational to emotional, that add up to a high-performing team.”

Laura Fenton, UK CEO, Omnicom Media Group

“Inspiring inclusion requires lasting structural change and day-to-day community support. I will be continuing to drive the range of progressive policies and benefits we have introduced across OMG UK: from fertility, pregnancy loss and menopause policies to flexible hours, nursery workplace benefits and mental health support.

“I will continue to take an active and visible role in supporting the initiatives of our employee resource groups and providing safe spaces to listen and learn from under-represented groups within our organisation.

“Finally, the power of role-modelling inclusive leadership cannot be under-estimated and I will make sure I create the space for as many diverse perspectives as possible in all my interactions.”

Beth Anderson, senior vice-president and general manager, FAST channels and VOD, BBC Studios; Top 50 Women Gamechangers in TV

“At BBC Studios, I’m fortunate to be surrounded by team members with a variety of backgrounds and experiences. We’re a truly global team, rich with insightfully diverse points of view, united by our enthusiasm for TV and the ever-changing media landscape.

“In large organisations, I often find the most powerful gift to give a colleague is your undivided time. I hold open office hours weekly to ensure there is always dedicated space for any member of the team to bring their action items, ideas or initiatives.

“But that’s just the start of the journey. Psychological safety is imperative in the quest to foster a truly inclusive environment. In the year ahead, I’m committed to provide positive feedback, call out individual contributions specifically, publicly and consistently, and seek out opportunities to remind individuals of their unique worth. As I always say, you are more important than any of your to-dos.”

Juliet McCutcheon, UK commercial director, Channel Factory

“Over the past few years, it’s been a real inspiration to see an increase in the number of women thriving in the adtech industry within high-level roles, despite there still being a gender gap when it comes to commercial roles.

“Growth networks such as Bloom and The Women in Programmatic Network are doing great things, offering support to women at all levels in the industry and helping to drive change. I would encourage anyone in the industry to get involved. Don’t be hesitant and wish you’d joined sooner, just like me!

“One challenge is keeping talent in the industry and not allowing new parents to be pushed out. The advertising industry could be a beacon for change by going above flexibility standards, ensuring we don’t lose top talent.”

Rupinder Downie, sponsorship and commercial partnerships leader, Channel 4; Top 50 Women Gamechangers in TV

“Equitable representation is the foundation of Channel 4. We’re proud of what we’ve done so far but, as an organisation, I know we want to go further. Our leadership aspires for Channel 4 to drive inclusion not only for employees, but across our supply chain, and to help accelerate change in our industry.

“For example, our Diversity in Advertising Award initiative has prioritised better representation, which in turn has yielded business growth for a number of brands in recent years. We will continue to build insights like this into our approach to ensure that diversity and inclusion are embedded into our decision-making from the outset.”

Julie Selman, senior vice-president, head of EMEA, Magnite

“It’s important that our colleagues feel comfortable and safe bringing their whole selves to work, which is one of the reasons we’ve established employee resource groups, including one for parents and carers, our LGBTQA+ group PRISM and our black employee network.

“Personally, I try to have frequent one-on-one chats with our female team members and support them where needed. Whether they’re looking to boost their skills like public speaking (too many “manels”, still!) or finding a mentor in Magnite or through networks like Bloom, or just because they need someone to talk to about juggling the work-life balance. I try to lead by example and show that having both a fulfilling career and a family is possible, but that it is OK to talk about the challenges openly.

“When it comes to mums returning from maternity leave, I make it a priority to sit down with them. I try to offer a supportive space where we can chat about their goals and any challenges they might face getting back into the swing of things at work. My goal is to make sure they feel valued and encouraged to transition back into their roles here at Magnite, while balancing their new responsibilities outside of the workplace.”

Adwanted UK is the trusted delivery partner for three essential services which deliver accountability, standardisation, and audience data for the out-of-home industry. Playout is Outsmart’s new system to centralise and standardise playout reporting data across all outdoor media owners in the UK. SPACE is the industry’s comprehensive inventory database delivered through a collaboration between IPAO and Outsmart. The RouteAPI is a SaaS solution which delivers the ooh industry’s audience data quickly and simply into clients’ systems. Contact us for more information on SPACE, J-ET, Audiotrack or our data engines.

Media Jobs