The Workplace

What Works, What’s Fair?

One of the key Principles of the Beijing Platform for Action and one of the most important factors in improving the portrayal of women in the media is to have women fully and productively engaged within media organisations, as journalists and programme makers, technicians and engineers, managers and other support staff. In fact, women should be encouraged to fully participate in all areas of a media workplace, to provide expertise, diversity, new perspectives and role models. 

Leading from the Top – Champions of Change

It is widely recognised that with diversity and gender issues and the embedding of respective values within organisations, leaders and senior managers are the most important agents of change. The message from Boards and CEO’s drives the culture-change programme and turns the aims into actions. One of the most effective initiatives is for senior management to select champions at the top level to actively represent and be role models for women and a more inclusive gender workforce. 


Workplaces are made up of individuals and teams who have a range of backgrounds and attributes. They provide a wide pool of styles and talents for content and programmes that can reflect the broad diversity of the community. All employees regardless of their gender should have access to an equal range of employment opportunities through open, transparent and inclusive recruitment practices, career development opportunities, pay equity and fair treatment. All vacancies should be widely advertised and selection committees set up that include both men and women. Appointment decisions should be based on merit and organisations should ensure that the measures of merit are not gender biased. For example, men with dependent children should not be preferred to similarly credentialed women with children in similar situations.

“The Australian Broadcasting Corporation recognises International Women’s Day each year with a range of activities around Australia. One of the regular activities is a forum for staff that includes a panel of senior and high profile women talking about their roles and employment journeys. This provides the opportunity for staff to have access to role models, to gain insight to the women’s career paths and work/life balance, and to generally promote the advancement of women. The 2010 International Women’s Day forum, held in Sydney, Australia in March 2010, focused on ABC women working in science and innovation. The panel was facilitated by then State Director NSW Mike McCluskey (from mid-2010 appointed as Chief Executive Officer, ABC Radio Australia) with  three participants: ABC Catalyst Presenter Dr Maryanne Demasi (Television), Science Writer/Broadcaster Bernie Hobbs (Innovation) and Head Strategic Development Abigail Thomas (Innovation).”

Working Together

Organisations should strive for a positive and inclusive working environment for all staff. The aim should be to have policies and practices that value a supportive and innovative culture. Measures can include:

• a workplace behaviour policy that addresses discrimination, harassment and bullying;

• grievance procedures that provide mechanisms for the early resolution of issues that arise in the workplace;

• representation of both men and women on decision-making committees and panels;

• reviewing the language and terminology of plans, policies and documents to ensure gender inclusion, for example ‘camera operator’ not ‘cameraman’, ‘anchor’ not ‘anchorman’ and ‘make-up artist’ not ‘make up-girl’; and

• providing equity and diversity training for all staff to improve awareness and enhance working together.

Realising Potential

Training and development opportunities improve the skills and qualifications of all staff. Women should be  encouraged and selected to participate in training programmes, including for management development and non-traditional roles such as technical fields. Fair performance management schemes have a range of benefits for businesses. Agreed job plans for each employee, including training needs, can be linked to the strategic plans of business units. Job plans can then be monitored and adjusted throughout the year and a fair appraisal undertaken at the end of the reporting period. Care should be taken with pay increments and bonuses that they are fairly distributed, according to staff achievements, regardless of gender.

Ideas for supporting women in the workplace can include:

• a career development plan for individuals;

• accredited qualifications;

• targeting of women in non-traditional roles via direct recruitment, work experience and senior managers meeting with female tertiary students;

• scholarships;

• providing mentors;

• setting up women’s networking groups, both within the workplace and across industries;

• access to speakers, role models and forums; and

• appointing a gender officer and/or a gender committee to help develop and implement women’s initiatives and monitor progress.

“There is a relationship between the employment of women and what we see on our screens. Hence, Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation (MNBC) believes that the number of women behind the camera will encourage more diverse images of women on screen. Currently, though not balanced, female camera operators, video editors, technicians and news editors are employed. MNBC is ready to recruit additional female technical staff, as and when applications are received.”

Organisational Development

Ideas for measuring the organisational progress of women’s participation include:

• audit gender representation within the organisation across occupational groups, age and length of service;

• look at other areas of data, for example, in the past two years by gender in promotions, recruitment and training opportunities;

• examine exit interview data for reasons for departure. Introduce/ update exit interview data to include  diversity/discrimination questions;

• calculate the cost of turnover. Consider workforce planning needs across the organisation;

• consider a pay equity evaluation;

• review internal vision statements, plans, codes of conduct and values statements and the overall culture of the organisation for references to and the application of valuing diversity and promoting gender inclusion and positive workplace cultures;

• review policies that cover discrimination, harassment and bullying;

• review the grievances data for areas of concern;

• audit conditions of service in regard to work and familyresponsibilities and flexible work practices;

• look at recruitment practices, style and language of advertisements, selection criteria and interview panel and practices; and

• look at the induction information and delivery provided to new staff.

Conditions of Service

General conditions of service, contractual arrangements and industrial agreements should be monitored to ensure gender issues are addressed and there is increased flexibility for working parents. 

Pay equity: Principle of equal pay for work of equal value should be applied, not only where men and women carry out the same work or similar work but also the more usual situation where work is carried out along traditional occupational gender streams.

General leave provisions: There are some considerations in relation to general leave that have gender implications. Temporary, part-time and piece workers should have the same pro-rata entitlements as full-time colleagues. In some organisations seniority may determine who has first choice of dates for holidays. Since women generally are not as senior as men and often have requirements linked to family care responsibilities, career breaks and re-entry to the workforce, there are disadvantages with procedures such as these based on seniority.

“The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has been providing scholarships for women studying relevant  engineering and technology courses since the early 1990s. These are called Women in Broadcast Technology Scholarships and include four- week industry work experience placements, a funded book allowance, access to career advice and a possible work opportunity with the ABC at the completion of study. In Australia this area of study and work is under-represented by women and the ABC’s aim is to address this issue for a more inclusive workplace where a broader pool of employees is encouraged and supported. Since the scholarships commenced in 1992 a total of 100 have been awarded around Australia. Over the years a number of the scholarship winners have been employed in positions at the ABC and one of them is Anne Boyle who was awarded her scholarship in 2003 and was then employed at the ABC later that year. Her areas of work have included the support of television content editing systems used for the production of News, Current Affairs and general programmes. Anne commented that the scholarship ‘opened my eyes to a career I had not previously considered.’ ”

Medical and sick leave: As well as the usual sick leave provisions for all staff, there are occasions when working women may need other time off from work that is related to their gender. Pregnant women may require some flexibility with their hours, their workload and health issues. Depending on the job specifications, they may need to undertake lighter duties. Nursing mothers at work should be accommodated with paid breaks and a suitable location for breastfeeding.

Maternity, paternity and carer’s leave: The World Health Organisation has stated that, following the birth of a  child, there should be a minimum period of paid maternity leave to ensure the continued good health of the child and for parental bonding to take place. Paid maternity leave should also apply in the case of adoption,  miscarriage or stillbirth. Paternity leave should also be provided to ensure that the fathers have the time to care for the family and share the childcare responsibilities. This also applies to couples adopting a child. Good organisations have arrangements where they keep in touch with their female staff on maternity leave to pass on information about workplace changes and to provide a sense of connection with the workplace.

When it is necessary, men and women may need to care for sick children and other family members and may have elder care responsibilities. Organisations can provide carer’s leave for this purpose. Parents could also opt to use a part of their sick leave entitlement for this purpose.

Flexible working arrangements: With childcare and other family responsibilities, women returning to work should be encouraged to explore flexible work arrangements to assist with work and life balance. Re-entering the workforce enables women to participate as workers, salary earners and to develop their careers for the long-term.

Business benefits by retaining experienced staff and the investment already made in recruitment and training. Management should be flexible with requests for these purposes and implement a range of options for staff.

“Handing over duty between the outgoing Director-General Datuk Ibrahim Yahaya and the incoming DG Dato’  Norhyati Ismail. She is the first woman in the history of Radio Televison Malaysia (RTM) holding this post.”

Options, subject to meeting business needs, can include:

• flexible hours, with a core of perhaps six hours per day with flexible hours on either side;

• part-time work;

• job sharing, where two people share one job taking joint responsibility for the tasks to be done; and

• working from home.

Part-time employees should receive the same conditions and salary (on a pro–rata basis) as full-time workers and access to training and promotion opportunities.

Flexible work can also benefit media organisations by addressing the need to employ staff to work part-time, shift work and weekend arrangements that can appeal to working parents.