One of Australian media’s most distinguished professionals is calling on us to contribute to something bigger than ourselves. Why? Because we are happiest when we contribute to others.
The Women in Media Awards, presented by Are Media, are just around the corner, with the cream of the media industry set to be recognised and celebrated for their courage, innovation, and leadership.
Bobbi Mahlab AM is the founder and chair of Mahlab, a company she created more than 20 years ago after a career in publishing and journalism. She’s also a nominee for this year’s Women in Media Awards.
Recently, B&T had the chance to pick her brains for sage advice, with Mahlab revealing why she believes media professionals are in a fantastic position to make the world more equal and sustainable.
Moreover, she explained why we must contribute beyond our own patch, saying: “The point is simply to do something for others and create positive change”.
Bobbi, congratulations on making the WIM shortlist for 2020. What are you being recognised for?
I am being recognised as a Social Changemaker. I am an advocate and activist for gender equality and diversity. It’s critical for the success of the world that women have equal opportunity and that society, including the media sector, benefits from the diversity women contribute. We are good for business and we are good at business!
Developing a culture where both men and women support gender equality through their attitudes and actions is crucial. This is why I co-founded Mentor Walks—a national program that makes mentoring accessible to women everywhere and helps them get career clarity and build their professional networks. Mentor Walks is about good women helping good women. Our volunteer mentors include 380 of Australia’s most senior and diverse women including many CEO’s from media and advertising. These mentors are matched with aspiring women for an hour-long walk and talk (virtually during COVID) at monthly events. More than 3,000 women have participated to date and the program is growing in both cities and regions. Research shows that Mentor Walks is having a significant impact on women’s leadership (such as getting promotions, new roles, raises) and job creation.
I am also very proud of Mahlab, the content, communications, and PR agency I founded in 1997 and now Chair. Mahlab is an agency that hasn’t just talked about equality and diversity but lives it to its core. At Mahlab, you can bring both your baby and your brains to the boardroom! We are very proud of our culture and our track record of outstanding publishing and content—work that is consistently awarded both domestically and internationally.
Is being recognised as a professional working in advertising, marketing, or the media important?
Earlier this year I was honoured to receive a Member of the Order of Australia for significant contribution to women, publishing, and philanthropy.
I have been in the media industry for my entire career—first in journalism, then in custom publishing and newspapers, and now in content marketing, PR and communications.
The emergence of digital presented an enormous challenge that I have loved embracing. I am very proud of the way Mahlab has transformed over its 23 years. We were pioneers in content marketing in this country, and have thrived through times when many media companies did not.
How will you leverage your recognition as a Women in Media finalist as a force for good?
Women in Media is a platform and an influential audience. My message is that it is really important that each of us contributes beyond our own patch—to help make the world a better place. Science shows that we are happiest when we contribute to others. Your contribution can be flipping burgers at your child’s school fundraiser, contributing your skills to a not-for-profit or starting a movement.
Your contribution can be big or small and can wane or grow depending on how much time you have at each stage of your life. The point is simply to do something for others and create positive change. The change I am making is for gender equality and showing what that looks like in a media business and through mentoring at scale.
Do you work for a living, or work because you love what you do?
I love what I do and I love that I make a living out of it! I strongly believe in the profit-for-purpose model because if a business makes money, it can use that money to create positive change. Mahlab is doing a lot of pro-bono projects with Elizabeth Broderick and her work with the UN addressing discrimination against women and girls. Being profitable gives us the ability to do that work.
Do we have a right, as media professionals, to advocate, to influence, and to change people’s behaviour?
People in media are in a fantastic position to help make the world more equal and sustainable. There are so many simple things we can all do to make a difference—from using our platform to ask important questions to including diverse people and voices in our work and reflect our diverse society. The ABC’s 50:50 Project that increases the contribution of women as expert talent or contributors across their programming is a great example. All of us in media can do that.
The Women in Media Awards will be held virtually on Wednesday 28 October 2020.
If you’d like more information about the event, head to this website.
You can also check out who made this year’s shortlist, here.
Thank you to all of our incredible sponsors for making the event possible!
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