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More action, please!

Róisín McKeniry, head of technology, Gravity Media, explains why the media industry needs to change its mindset in the way it works, and utilise technology to improve work-life balance if it hopes to encourage a truly diverse workforce

It’s International Women’s Day, and I wish to share my journey as a female leader in a technical role within the broadcast industry. 

Whilst progress has been made, there’s always room for improvement. Instead of focusing on frustrations, let’s channel our energy into taking concrete actions as individuals, as organisations and as an industry, to work towards that elusive equality. 

Together, we can make a meaningful impact!

Individual actions

It’s a glaringly obvious one but apparently still needs saying: don’t judge, make assumptions or leap to unfounded perceptions based on a person’s gender. The tired old positive/negative male/female parallels such as confidence/arrogance, empowerment/controlling, passionate/emotional and so on still abound, to the very real detriment of women’s progress and promotion. 

Appreciate people’s differences. A diverse team can only add to your problem-solving abilities because different people approach and solve problems in different ways. 

Remember that staff are also individual humans who have other things going on in their lives. The so-called ‘soft skills’ are so important; making the effort to know the names of your team’s children, to know that someone is struggling with an elderly parent, to remember that someone is competing in a marathon next weekend, and asking about those things (in an organic way!), makes people feel appreciated and cared about.

Celebrate the women that you work with, not just in terms of the big things and certainly not just for International Women’s Day. Tell them regularly what a brilliant job they are doing, and point out their great work to peers and senior staff. 

Organisational actions

We all need to be aware of the environments that we work in, and of the potential impact we have on young people. A young woman at Gravity Media is my mentor, because I’ve been in this industry for 26 years and I know that I accept things and possibly join in with things that are not and were never really acceptable, because that is my learned behaviour. I don’t want us to have a sanitised work environment; but shouldn’t we be cheering that young people, and young women in particular, are prepared to call out unacceptable behaviour or unacceptable demands? The old guard might complain that, “Young people are so sensitive, they won’t put up with some of the stuff that we’ve had to, or do what we had to do.” Ultimately people shouldn’t come to work and feel uncomfortable.

Encourage women in your organisation to work together towards change. We created a group for Gravity women which was set up by Laura Wignall, our business development manager, and in the future we hope to extend the initiative to the wider Group, and the main thing I took from our very first gathering was that these women identified non-female-specific areas for improvement. They could see the impact of certain things on all staff, and came up with solutions. Again, it is about having diversity within an industry to see things that other people perhaps don’t see. 

If you are a woman in a leadership role, like it or not, younger or subordinate women are looking at you and your behaviour. I am pleased to have had female ex-colleagues tell me that they moved on feeling confident in themselves, in part because they had sight of a woman who they recognised as a strong person who didn’t apologise for herself. Please think of the next generation of female leaders and model the behaviours that perhaps you would have liked to see as you moved up.

Industry changes

We have a massive skills shortage in this industry, and statistics tell us that in around four and a half years we are going to be in serious trouble because the older generation is retiring. We need to find new and creative ways to bring a young and diverse workforce into the industry, and fast.

We need to change the mindset of the way we work, utilise technology to improve our work-life balance, and think of ways to recruit more women/diverse staff. We lose so many talented women through being inflexible with working hours or accepting that working until all hours to get a production finished is normal; let’s plan properly in the first place to build in enough time. Remote production is another key driver to enable those who are unable to commit to days or weeks away from home. 


Let’s offer more flexibility in the working week, such as job-sharing. This benefits working mothers in particular. It’s not hard with a bit of thought and organisation, and invariably they give so much more than is asked of them because they appreciate the opportunity. 

Organisations like Rise are doing amazing things, such as going into schools and telling young girls about career opportunities that they didn’t even know existed. That’s a long-term strategy and it’s one that every single company should be buying into. However, there is a cost associated with these types of initiatives and in my experience, every time a recession kicks in, they are the first things to have funding withdrawn. We need to stop this short-term thinking. 

Overall, we need to stop the lip service and put our money where our mouths are. I’ve been to industry events where there is one panel of women talking about the skill set shortage and what we’re going to do to change the industry, while every other technical panel has males talking about technology and the projects they have done. And I’m sure the organisers do their best to get balanced panels, but the reality is that there just aren’t enough women in senior roles. Don’t get me wrong; there are a few absolutely amazing women out there, but it’s an embarrassing percentage.

Following EMG / Gravity Media combining forces, by combining talent, there is a significant opportunity to create a more diverse workforce by implementing positive changes and actively welcoming more women into key roles, fostering an inclusive and equitable work environment.

As we observe International Women’s Day, it’s crucial for all companies to earnestly assess the state of the industry. If there’s no discomfort in acknowledging the existing disparities, it’s a collective call for reflection. Celebrating this day goes beyond sponsorships and highlighting a few success stories; we require continuous, comprehensive efforts starting from leadership. Let’s commit to sustained, long-term actions, and if I am fortunate enough to be given this platform again next year, let’s proudly showcase the positive changes we’ve collectively achieved.