On average, 100,000 German Internet users search Google for the term ‘diversity’ every month. Most DAX companies now promote diversity as a goal in their corporate policies. But what does diversity actually mean and to what extent is “diversity washing” the new “green washing”? Shouldn’t diversity also be quantitatively measurable?
Diverse and what people mean by diversity
Diversity in its conceptual history goes back to the Latin diversitas, which means something like difference or variety. In ancient times, the term was mainly used in the domain of esthetics whenever mentioning something colorful and iridescent. Thus, diversity does not always mean the same thing but refers to various traits, such as ethnicity, culture, skin color, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, impairments, etc. When we talk about diversity here, we primarily focus on the aspect of gender diversity. We are still working on the screening of different ethnic groups and are also looking for further partners who would like to advance this topic with us.
Although gender equality was incorporated into the German constitution as early as 1990, there has been a great deal of discussion in the meantime, especially about the staffing of management board positions. But it was not until 2021 that the Future Institute declared the gender shift to be a megatrend in our economy.
Media - present image and future outlook: Where do companies stand today?
Companies recognize the importance and significance of diversity and want to support it. The problem is often not a lack of female talent but properly approaching and attracting them to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) career paths.
Francesca Scott, Diversity Equity & Inclusion Officer at the EBU (European Broadcasting Union), also stresses the importance of reaching young girls well before they make pivotal life decisions. Hence, campaigns are being launched in the EBU to “demystify” the field of STEM and gender stereotypes.
We’re not short of diverse talent, we’re short of understanding how to reach and engage with that diverse young talent,”
Ruth MacLaren, a Broadcast Engineer at the BBC, recalls moments “being asked to make coffee or tea; that someone on the phone asked to speak to another engineer when I picked up and then hung up when my female counterpart answered it; or people calling me ‘honey’ or ‘sweetheart.’ Women cannot feel comfortable in such a work environment.
Another solution to the shortage of female staff, according to Judy Parnall, Head of Standards and Industry at the BBC, is representation. Therefore, female role models should appear on the screens, as well as more mentoring by women.
According to the current “Diversity in Germany” report of the 10th Diversity Charter, two out of three companies in Germany have not yet implemented any diversity management measures.
The BBC’s equality project and diversity in the media
Of course, corporate diversity management is also reflected in the media because
media plays an indispensable role in shaping public opinion. It means reflecting different viewpoints that exist in a culture, putting them up for discussion, and presenting media content as it is. It also includes the true representation of society in all its diversity.
The media are incubators for gender roles, producing images of representation that fall far short of value proclamations and promising trailblazers like Netflix. We see every day how underrepresented women are in the current media supply. They still have less to say, and fictional female characters follow well-worn role clichés.
The 50:50 Challenge
In 2017, the BBC launched the 50:50 – Challenge with a mission to inspire and support organizations worldwide to foster journalism and consistently create media content that portrays our world fairly and authentically.
Since then, participants have grown to 145 organizations in 30 countries, with the current network including partners in the private and public media, academia, law, the public, and the corporate world.
The 50:50 Challenge aims to gather better data on women’s representation in media content and how that translates into our daily editorial and production considerations and processes.
What started five years ago as a simple idea on one BBC News programme is now helping to drive sustainable and measurable culture change right across the organisation.
The longer this data is monitored regularly, the likelier companies will bring about cultural change.
In addition, the more data, the easier it is to identify subject areas where women are underrepresented. For example, in science or technical areas.
Even before content is created, the 50:50 Challenge enables us to think differently about stories and include enriched content with more diversity.
Serving our audiences is at the heart of everything we do, and we will continue to make this monitoring a key priority for everyone.
Rhodri Talfan Davies
BBC Director of Nations
One thing is certain: Nothing influences our thinking more than the media. So why not amplify the cultural shift here? Content should be created more diversely from the very first concept, the very first script page, and conversely, mechanisms are needed to quantify and evaluate diversity.
„What gets measured, gets done!“
DeepVA Diversity Analysis - Gender and age recognition in images and videos
With DeepVA Diversity Analysis we offer media companies a convenient foundation for their diversity decisions.
Diversity analysis scans entire content quickly and easily. Here, the AI evaluates not only the gender and age but also the screen and talk time of each person being shown. Then, at the push of a button, you receive a complete analysis report in PDF format, ready to be used as a reference for your business decisions and journalistic work.
DeepVA seeks to raise awareness about where media currently stand in terms of diversity and pave the way for more inclusive, diverse content.