How to Develop a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative in the Media Industry

This post was written by: Tegan Valeny

Diversity is a regular topic on The Content & Media Matters Podcast. On Episode 10 we spoke to Megan Wagoner, the RVP of Media & Entertainment at Bitmovin, about how to develop a DEI initiative in your company. Meghan advocates for diversity and inclusion within the industry, and serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors for Women in Streaming Media, making her the perfect person to speak to us about DEI in the Content & Media industry. 

Why is a diversity, equality and inclusion initiative still needed in 2023?

It’s still blatantly obvious that ours is not a diverse industry. The good news is that we’re starting to see more diversity, but we still have some ways to go.

As a hiring manager, I see a lot of resumes, and there are very few women that I have found that are qualified. The issue isn’t that we’re not picking women, it’s that they’re not being brought up to know that this is an option. We need advocacy at a much earlier stage. A good friend from my MBA class said, “I hire based on skill and who’s the right fit. Why does diversity have to come into it?” 

That made me realise that you have to have the right candidate pool. You need to have people who are willing and able to do the job. You can’t hire someone just to fill a diversity quota. If you do bring in a diverse candidate, they’re going to bring a new perspective and experience, which will result in a better company – but they need to bring in relevant skills and experience to the role as well. 

It’s so easy to stereotype when you’re looking at a resume. Just from a person’s name, you can make assumptions about their gender and nationality. It’s essential to strip away the stereotypes and remove that unconscious bias. Hiring should be skills-based, so it could be 100% anonymous. Instead of going on LinkedIn and identifying who a candidate is, you should look at their skill set instead. 

There have been so many women that I really wanted to hire because I could see their potential, but they weren’t the most qualified candidates. I knew we could coach them, but we didn’t have the time to do it. We need to get out there and talk to girls in high school and universities, and we need to be telling people, “Hey, this is a really fabulous industry, and it’s something that you can do anywhere.” Flexibility is a big thing. If you’re a lawyer in Australia, you can’t just move to another country, because the laws are very different. The content industry is almost universal, so it opens up this whole new world of opportunity. 

We will start to have a pool of rising talent that is able to get those C-level seats. I want to see women represented at the highest level. You see most female leadership in HR and marketing, but I want to see that in tech. Women are so smart with operations and analytical thinking, so they’ll be able to push the envelope in terms of what’s available for the next generation. 

What should a company leadership team be doing if they want to develop a Diversity and Inclusion Initiative? 

Social media advocacy is phenomenal. Liking and interacting with content is a great start, especially if you add your two cents and a comment. Not many companies have the resources or the budget to be able to allow somebody to do the DEI full time. Oftentimes, it’s a volunteer position within a company that you are adding to your current workload, without an additional payment. It’s another different hat to wear. 

If you’re in that position, know that you don’t have to do it all at once. You have to be able to take baby steps. Find a group of people within your company who are passionate about inclusion, and form a committee. You’ll need to strategize in a top-level way at first. Consider what you want the company to represent in terms of diversity. Do you want to make sure that everybody in your audience is represented? Do you want a diverse tech team? Look at the demographics of your company, and see if there’s a gap or difference in the ratio of gender, race, nationality, etc, then start by addressing that. It doesn’t have to happen overnight. 

It needs to start with recruiting. You don’t have to hire somebody because of their characteristics, but you do have to be open to it. Take those blinders off. It might mean that you take a little bit longer to recruit a new team member, because you’re looking for someone who is a great fit and brings a different perspective to the team, rather than just hiring the first great fit you find. You need to be able to see the candidates for who they are and who they can become. If women or minorities are underrepresented, you should be looking for another way to get them into the company. You should be hiring with the idea of parity between everybody.

To hear more about developing a diversity, equity and inclusion initiative in your company, listen to The Content & Media Matters Podcast here

We sit down regularly with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.     

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