Increasing diversity in media leadership

It is no secret that the numbers of women in leadership remain low and seemingly stagnant across the globe, despite various programmes to promote women in the workplace.

frayintermedia partnered with WAN-IFRA to produce a series of case studies of women in leadership that appear in its Introduction to Media Management e-learning course. These case studies share practical advice for women media leaders to overcome various challenges in the workplace.

In one such case study, Managing Editor of the East African, Pamella Sittoni, shares on the challenges of balancing work and family roles.

She said: “Many women opt to sacrifice their careers to take up family roles. That’s another challenging issue which, I think, if we all felt the same about, we would make the workplace a bit more friendly for women who are at a certain position in their lives, in certain stages of their lives.

“This isn’t a permanent status, it's probably only one year where you need some accommodation to have flexi-time to be with your children at the right time. And then after that you can get into the grind of things.” This requires creating supportive environments where women can succeed personally and professionally without being forced to choose one option over the other.

Speaking about the difficulties of being the lone voice in a male dominated environment when it comes to decision-making, Sittoni emphasized the need to diversify leadership in managerial circles.

She said: “I think the biggest challenge for me, as a senior woman in media right now, is that there are very few of us. And we do not have a strong enough voice at the table. So from things as basic as who to promote a lot of the time, I find myself being the lone voice speaking up for women. It doesn’t really seem to brother people around me that it is wrong to sit in a room of eight men and one woman. But it makes me really uncomfortable.”

What steps can the media take to increase leadership diversity in management?

WAN-IFRA’s report “WINning Strategies: Creating Stronger News Media Organisations by Increasing Gender Diversity” lists some key steps .

Firstly, WAN notes that the commitment to diversity starts at the top of all organisations and is then building into all levels - not just the newsroom.

To ensure success, this commitment must be “consistently and forcefully communicated”.

Change does not happen without being actively managed. “Results are measured and managers are held accountable,” says the report.

Hiring women is important so that there are sufficient members to promote in order for there to be parity at the most senior, decision-making levels. Indeed, women must occupy all roles and not just those defined by social or cultural norms.

“Pay equity is vital,” says WAN.

The report strongly recommends mentoring and development programmes: “Gender equity occurs, and will be preserved, only when women are actively cultivated, supported and promoted.

The Media Management foundation course provides adaptable strategies to not only the media environment but for management in general. Over 100 women from African and Asian have participated in the course since its launch in late 2017.

The course features women leaders from different backgrounds and each of them share their unique journeys and important lessons learnt along the way. The course also brings together a community of ambitious and knowledgeable women who share opinions on real, everyday issues.

Click here for more information on the Introduction to Media Management.

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