Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Live Blogging the iWDMS - Part 3 - Day 2

As before - filled with typos, spelling mistake and maybe even the occasional mis-attribution. This is live blogging - it's messy!

LUNCH & LEARN - WIFT-T Industry Study Presentation

Panel Discussion between:
Susan Annis, Executive Director, Cultural Human Resources Council
Lynda Brown-Ganzert, Vice-President, Nordicity
Shelley Simmons, Director, Chocolate Liberation Front
Madeline Ziniak, National Vice-President, Rogers OMNI Television

Susan Ross, Partner, ISM Access; Chair of the WIFT-T Industry Study

Susan Ross: Representation in media industries lagging behind the rest of the workforce. Haven't seen great gains since previous studies - and in broadcasting, even a decline in women's participation.

Madeline: Unfortunately sees it as a trend - not on the radar - feminism is no longer an accepted word. Sea change in broadcasting generally, which she sees as not as sensitive to the importance of having women on board, in executive positions. 20 years ago, management would make an effort to have better representation (of women, other excluded groups) on short lists for positions - no longer the case.

Susan Annis: Advocacy groups are being silenced - not participating, not being funded, etc. It seems so obvious that we need that kind of balance for our cultural products to reflect the entire country, it's not rocket science. No need to get lost in the rhetoric of feminism, could potentially just be a numbers game (me: hmmmmm).

Linda: The idea of equality falling off the agenda found throughout. Several years ago, there was funding and support and curriculum to get girls into math, computer science, etc. Not so much anymore. If tech skills aren't being fostered at home, or elementary school, may not get it anywhere (or in time).

Susan (moderator) - technical side?
Shelley: From the interactive side - sees more women in technical roles, making casual games - but certainly not still dominant. Thinks there's a real potential for women to make games for women - don't see this as much.

Susan (moderator) - dismayed by the stats showing low take up rate (17%) on business training among women in film and tv sectors. how critical is business training.

Susan Annis: business skills aren't often why people go into the film and television industries - they want to direct, produce, write, etc. but business skills are really key - important to know them, know how that aspect of the industry works. WIFT has been taking a real lead here - holding workshops, etc. on production accounting, etc. These are key areas the industry has identified as important - a real need here - Susan says not limited to women.

Do the business skills open up doors? Madeline says not as much as they'd like to see - so another gap between skills training and application (opportunities for application).

Linda: recommends "just in time" training - quick and short that can respond to immediate needs, in lead up to a specific opportunity, etc.

Shelley: refers back to the summit's recurring theme of taking risks - and points out that there's a need for dispelling the myth around risks - revealing the repercussions, which often aren't all that bad.

Susan (moderator): Need to address the glass ceiling - we've shattered a layer, there's one more layer to go (executive level). not seeing movement amongst women. other than ruminating and training, what's left to do?

Madeline: mentions tokenism as a trend. Women work harder in attaining the positions, volunteering, trying hard to break through and get a network going. What do we have to do? Doesn't want affirmative action, but wants corps. and orgs. to take out the excuses for not looking at women for positions. sees a lot of old boys network that no one is talking about - people getting hired without going through the regular interview process. need to dispel certain cultural misunderstandings (e.g. perceptions about women and aggression - not being aggressive enough, or too aggressive, etc.).

Linda: Almost need to leap frog into issue of women on boards. On a board, women are empowered and have responsibility - can take action at this level to ensure that women *are* being considered for jobs, that hiring processes are fair and transparent, that diversity is on the agenda, etc.  [me: good stuff]

Madeline: reiterates the need to be more vocal - take a stand. trend away from that - just don't see or hear it anymore. needs to be reinvigorated.

[Me:...Gotta say, Madeline's comments are refreshing and overall quite awesome. the continued emphasis on women getting more training, more of the "right" kind of training, is sort of frustrating. Are women really the problem? I want to hear more about challenging the old boys' network...which I'm not sure an extra accreditation or accounting knowledge can really stand a chance against.]

Susan - moderator: Work life balance comes up again - a tired phrase, but nonetheless important finding of the study. Is there a level you can reach in an organization where you can have more freedom to have a "life"? In creative industries - with production schedules - is there a happy way to have both life and a career?

Linda: Time shifting, supportive co-workers. Work-life balance is a fallacy - there are moments/glimpses of it, but constant changes and shifts involved. Need to change the pitch - accommodate more life in the way work is structures, how employees are chosen and managed (and retained), results in a better workforce, better business, reputation, etc.

Shelley: Also need to encourage that men take parental leave - be more open to men taking this time as well - normalize the idea that this isn't (and shouldn't be) just something that applies to women. Clearly applies to men as well. [me: yes!!!!!]

Susan - moderator: Future - what's next - what would you like to see?

Susan Annis: Won't see a return to the 80s. All need to work together. Can't wait to see what will happen in 5 years, thinks men and women are understanding more and more that "we're in this together".  [me: btw: this here is a response that many of my undergrad students used to have when faced with current stats about inequity in employment/pay rates, etc. they'd say the study was outdated - even if the stats were only a year old - and that things were changing, and that men and women didn't feel that way anymore, so the statistical evidence was temporary, etc. Just sayin'! This is a pretty common reaction. Part of the problem?]

Madeline: this should be a signal - a pressure point - for organizations to take this and address it - to better reflect and prioritize diversity. need to take a leadership role in equity employment, etc. Ties this into business/economics - better for the market, which shouldn't be used as an excuse to not take risks, entrench in status quo, etc.

Shelley: would like to see this conversation back on the radar. comparative studies to show that there have been plateaus and lack of change.

Linda: wants canada to be global leaders in some sort of agreed upon standards for equitable employment.


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