Women are vital to any industry, especially the world of advertising and media. And, B&T doesn’t think it’s fair that some of these women fail to be recognised for their incredible work and efforts, simply because of their gender.
So, to celebrate the launch of our annual Women in Media Awards presented by Bauer Media, we’ve asked a few industry power women to talk to us about why the Women in Media Awards are important, their best piece of advice, the most influential women in their lives and more.
Pssssst – B&T is taking steps in addressing gender disparity in the workplace with our upcoming event Changing The Ratio. Buy your tickets here to be part of the movement.
Now, let’s hear from That Startup Show, an online TV series focusing on the fast-growing entrepreneurial boom, CEO Anna Reeves.
I didn’t think awards were important until I realised that it’s a celebration and recognition for all women in media and a way to help achieve gender equality through visibility. Women in Media Awards raises the profile of all women in an exceptionally challenging industry. It gives senior and executive women much needed recognition for their often years of hard work, and for newcomers – the chance to be visible for future opportunities. I am often stunned at the talent we have in this country, and that’s why it’s so important to have them all in one room – I can only imagine the creative collaborations that follow such an event!
WIM Awards are also important because they open a dialogue about the biggest impediment to pay equality in Australia, which I believe is the perception of the value of women in society. What we see and tell ourselves in stories has a tremendous influence on society. This is why I believe that as a storyteller, you have an enormous responsibility and power to create characters that are rich and deep, that move beyond gender (and cultural) stereotypes, in particular, the role of women in the world.
Being able to work with a diverse team of storytellers, who offer different perspectives simply from their lived experience of the world, helps create stories which allow us to see perspectives which would otherwise remain in our collective blindspots. I believe this is critical to creating positive role models for both men and women, especially at a young age. It also makes a story far more interesting!
In addition, in order to improve the perception of value of women in media, producers have to make a conscious effort to expand the search for talent, both in front and behind the screen despite the pressures of production. It has to be a conscious effort, until a time comes where it becomes an unconscious effort. The best teams I’ve ever worked with are where the male/female ratio is even. It makes a huge difference.
I’ve been so fortunate to work with countless of amazing women and men, and I’ve been really inspired by working with Benjamin Law on That Startup Show, who is a constant advocate for others and does so with a touch of humour. He has faced a lot of challenges, but he is such a positive person and incredibly empathetic, even in the face of Twitter trolls! I’m also grateful for my co founder Ahmed Salama, who is always championing women founders and ensuring that That Startup Show is representative of different voices of innovation.
Off the back of that, I think one way we can continue to represent different voices and one thing everyone can do today that could potentially make a massive change in the struggle for equality is to be mindful of how we speak and explain the world to children. Whether we like it or not, we become a role model to them. With my niece and nephew for example, my sister-in-law and brother made a concerted effort to focus on who they were as individuals. A young girl internalises values, especially about her worth so early on, so parents, adults and even media obviously have a tremendous influence on shaping those values.
I’m so proud of the young woman my niece has become because of the encouragement given to her as a person. For me personally, I was also lucky enough to have a father, who took me out in the world and encouraged me to go on challenging adventures with him. This had an enormous influence on what I thought I could do later in life, even though I didn’t know it at the time.
Another simple thing is also carry out small acts with great empathy in day to day interactions. Imagining someone else’s perspective in any given situation, even for a second, allows you to understand that the world you see is not always the world someone else sees. It’s an opportunity to gain insight that may preserve a relationship, expand your understanding of the world, and overall will make you a better listener, better friend, and better partner, and perhaps build better, more diverse teams in an organisation. I call it “everyday empathy”, and it’s a conscious practice.
If you were PM, what law would you change/introduce right now to improve equality?
In Australia, we have legislation seeking to address equality, but there is absolutely more work to be done in this arena. For example, co-designing a Constitutional amendment with First Nations leaders to recognise their voice. From there it would extend to specific things like creating pathways and mentorship for First Nations girls in education, particularly in STEM and entrepreneurship.
What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
Feel the fear, and do it anyway.