In 2015, the Harvard Business Review reported that “women made up a mere 19% of experts featured in news stories and 37% of reporters telling stories globally.” As an organisation committed to powering premium journalism, we feel it’s equally important to champion the voices bringing these stories to life — fighting for greater parity and diversity in the names and faces attached to those bylines.
It’s a year-long battle, but one that receives an especially bright spotlight in March timed to International Women’s Day (on the 8th) and Women’s History Month. To mark the occasion, we invited Lily Herman — award-winning writer, editor, and political advocate — into our offices for a conversation about her experiences, insights, and recommendations for those of us on the periphery of the journalistic industry.
Here are a few of our favourite, actionable takeaways from that discussion — actions we should all be taking 365 days a year:
Bring “all hands on deck.”
Too often, conversations about empowering women take place in a vacuum. It’s easy to air frustrations and find camaraderie when discussing challenges with other women, but as Lily explained, “It’s not just on women to empower women; we need all hands on deck to take action and support every group that’s marginalised and underrepresented.”
Men play as great a role in the gender parity conversation as women, and it’s imperative we invite them to discussions about how to boost the number of seats women and minorities have at the table. Action is borne from open, transparent dialogue — in order to boost advocacy, we have to fully explain our challenges to all parties (instead of continuously preaching to the choir).
Focus on collaboration, not competition.
In Lily’s words, “There’s something really powerful in women not seeing each other as competition, but as collaborators.”
Women and minorities need to ensure they’re pushing one another up the proverbial ladder, not tearing each other down. Providing mentorship, constructive feedback, and — again — hosting an open, honest dialogue are all ways to facilitate collaboration, not competition.
The tech and digital media industries (as well as a number of others) are a long way from achieving full gender parity, but that shouldn’t prevent us from celebrating progress if and where we can.
As we collaboratively and collectively work to elevate one another, let’s not forget to stop and celebrate our peers each time they reach a new rung on that ladder. Recognise great work, give thanks to exceptional mentors, and toast colleagues as they climb their way to the top.
At Index, for instance, our People team recently unveiled a global parental leave policy designed to give all of our working parents (or expectant parents) up to 26 weeks of paid leave after they’ve welcomed a new child. Though not an individual’s triumph or promotion, it was a momentous step for the women (as well as the men and non-binary folk!) of our organisation and one we were quick to applaud internally.
Empowered women empower women, after all. #EachForEqual
In an effort to do just that — celebrate progress and empower one another — we asked a few leading journalists and Indexers to share their favourite books, films, and podcasts that champions equality in this space. Their top recommendations are included below. If you’re looking for a dash of motivation or a moment of calm in this unpredictable time, these should do the trick.
Books: Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino, Becoming by Michelle Obama, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, Red Clocks by Leni Zumas, The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, Educated by Tara Westover, Americanah and Half of A Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Twitter And Tear Gas by Zeynep Tufecki.
Films: Little Women, Lady Bird, Mean Girls, A League Of Their Own, Cleo From 5 to 7, Lost In Translation, and Wonder Woman.