Founder of Tiddas 4 Tiddas and host of Always Our Stories podcast Marlee Silva says while it’s good the media industry is having conversations around diversity and inclusion, it still feels like an afterthought.
She says she would love to get to a space where the industry doesn’t even have to talk about diversity and inclusion because it simply reflects the real world of lots of different people from lots of different backgrounds.
During this year’s B&T Women in Media Awards, presented by Bauer Media, we’ll be recognising exceptional people who have achieved success in their professional arenas, celebrating their invaluable contribution to their industry through leadership, innovation and courage.
Marlee took the time to chat with B&T about her proudest professional moment, and her thoughts on where adland could improve in its approach to fighting gender inequality.
When in your career have you been bravest and most courageous?
I was a consultant for a communications agency and then last year quit that full-time job to take on everything that I do now. At the time I had many of my family members saying: ‘Oh, you have to make money – is that the right thing to do? There’s no stability’. But I stuck to what I felt was right in my gut and it turns out I’m working a lot more than I was as a full-time employee! So that’s probably the best decision I’ve made in my career so far.
What is your proudest professional moment?
It would be launching a new podcast by myself. And writing a book is another pretty proud moment. Then there’s getting Tiddas 4 Tiddas formalised as a real business entity and positioning ourselves as a media communications business. When I can add CEO to my job title, that’ll be a pretty proud moment too.
What drives you? What keeps you going when things get tough?
When I started Tiddas 4 Tiddas, it was never intended to be a business, it was just a side hobby. But over the first 12 months of having it exist and seeing how much people wanted us to be involved in their work or come and speak to them or work with young people, it occurred to me that this is what I needed to be doing and I just believed in it so much and I’ve seen the impact that we can make.
What keeps you up at night?
I always feel like not doing enough. I’ve always got some new idea or some new thing that I think we should be doing. And especially now I’m pretty obsessed with mobilising our online community to make a difference. So We’ve been collaborating with a few nonprofits to raise funds for them and the power having just about 70,000 people follow your Instagram page and being able to say: ‘Hey this is a thing we think is pretty cool and if you have the means to support this charity, maybe you should donate’ – that’s pretty special.
What’s the media industry getting right in its approach to fighting inequality and where could it improve?
I think that the majority of the industry still sees the concept of diverse perspectives, faces and voices being an extra add-on rather than something that can be enriching and not tokenistic. There’s a lot of talk of diversity and inclusion councils having quotas, but it still feels like an afterthought. I would love to get to a space where we don’t even have to talk about diversity and inclusion because every industry just reflects the real world, which is lots of people from lots of different backgrounds.
The thing the industry is getting right at the moment is the fact that we’re having these thoughtful conversations, especially in the last few months with the Black Lives Matter movement and such. I think that’s been a little bit of a kick up the bum to get the industry to move and act quickly, but it also comes with a lot of risks around trying to get things done too quickly, which can be disingenuous.
It’s a real balance, and I think we need to make sure that it’s not something that’s just trendy but it’s something really genuine. I want to get to a space where when we do see black or brown led media businesses, we see them as experts and not just experts about diversity, but also experts about the actual work that they do as well. I think there’s a risk of that tokenism. People who work in the diversity and inclusion space do bring an extra area of expertise of their lived experience, but they’re also there because they’re good at their job.
And finally, who is the bravest or most courageous person you know and why?
I am very lucky to know a lot of courageous people. I feel like I meet a new amazing woman every day in my line of work and I think as much as they all have different upbringings and experiences and things they’ve overcome, the things that they have in common is this relentless optimism and especially at times right now or just 2020 in general. Positivity is the universal kind of characteristic of all the brave and hardworking people I know.
Don’t be shy, be proud of your achievements and enter B&T’s Women In Media! Submit your entry here.
You can also buy tickets to the event here, which will be held on Wednesday 28 October 2020, at Doltone House (Jones Bay Wharf).
And, if you’d like more information, head to this website.
Other key information
On-time deadline: Friday 21 August 2020 (5pm AEST)
Late entries deadline: Friday 28 August 2020 (5pm AEST)
Shortlist announced: Wednesday 23 September 2020.
Thank you to all of our incredible sponsors for making the event possible!