For the last 22 months, Which-50 has been keeping tabs on how many men and women are quoted on the site. Before we began in June 2018 we had a sense the numbers would be bad, but it wasn’t until we sat down and analysed our coverage that we realised just how few female voices were included.
So we decided to do something about it. The following month Which-50 actively discriminated against men by removing them from articles or downgrading them to “spokesperson” regardless of their actual title for the entire month of July 2018. Why? Because change isn’t happening fast enough, and that is reflected in and reinforced by our own coverage.
Despite the louder and louder discussions about progress, we were reminded of the glacial pace of change last week when looking at the leadership of the 46 companies that make up the new ASX All-Tech Index. Just one company has a female CEO and eight have all-male boards.
The experiment revealed we didn’t have a big enough contact book of female executives, so we set ourselves a target of quoting 50 women each month. We basically ignore the number of men we are quoting, but set a monthly goal for women executives.
After initially committing to targets we consistently missed them month after month, as I detailed in this post 12 months ago. A progress report is well overdue.
Mid-May 2019 marked a turning point in the project which we internally refer to as ‘No Man’s Land’. It was time to make this target a priority or scrap it.
The first thing we did was literally move it from the last agenda item in our weekly editorial meeting to the first.
We also created urgency by making sure the numbers are updated daily, not weekly. Involving more team members in the tracking, counting and data visualisation exercise meant that at any time of the week a member of the editorial team could tell you how we are tracking for the month.
A shared database of female execs was created, which helped our editorial meetings to discuss who we had interviewed and their area of expertise. The changes worked.
For five consecutive months between June and October 2019 there were at least 50 women on the site. During the summer period, we missed our targets in November and January but were back on track by February.
So far in March we are a little behind schedule, with only nine women quoted on the site so far. Despite ten months of consistent effort, the task of finding 50 women each month isn’t something we always succeed at. The lesson here is that change takes consistent effort and prioritisation.