17 Feb 2017
Workplace equality feminism

From Beyoncé To Qantas, Equality Is The Discussion You Can’t Ignore

For as long as I can remember, discussions about equality have appeared in the news. But the conversations around gender, sexuality and race are getting louder, and no matter what news niche you follow, from tech and business news to entertainment, equality was an inescapable theme this week.

All Hail Queen B

Whether you’re a Beyoncé lover or hater, there’s no denying she knows how to generate headlines. Only last week she shared her twin pregnancy news with the whole world in an elaborate photo shoot.  Before that, she actively showed her support for the Women’s March in Washington D.C. This week, she stole the limelight with her Grammy performance, and because she lost out for album of the year. Again. But as always, Beyoncé has used this media attention to cement her role as an advocate for women. She understands that with fame and fortune comes responsibility, and always makes sure her voice is heard. Whatever you feel about her, she’s one of many keeping equality front and centre.

People In High Places

Away from entertainment glamour, there’s Fairfax Media Chief, Greg Hywood. He apparently believes it only requires one woman on his team of eleven to prepare for the organisation’s digital future. Many people, including senior journalists, expressed concern, saying they didn’t understand the move.  This announcement followed Hywood’s recent push for domestic violence leave at the company. Maybe it’s case of two steps forward and one step back. But it’s hard to shift the publication into the future with views that belong in the dark ages, especially when research shows that gender-diverse companies are more likely to outperform. When the gender pay gap in newspapers and broadcasting is higher than the national average of 19 per cent, the lack of female leadership is not a good look.

Silicon Valley: No Girls Allowed

Another sector notorious for the lack of gender equality is the startup world. Women often struggle to attract venture capital in this field. In fact, a study from Harvard Business Review found that only 9 per cent VC-funded tech start-ups had female entrepreneurs. Something unlikely to change that boys’ network reputation is news that former executive Tannen Campbell is suing augmented reality startup Magic Leap for hostility towards women. Ironically, Campbell’s appointment was part of a push to improve gender diversity. Yet she says her efforts were falling on deaf ears. What a massive HR nightmare but also, how short-sighted to recognise a problem, yet not do anything about it. Unfortunately, it’s something that happens all too often in the workforce and it’s about time people called it out.

Social Suicide

Valentine’s Day also made news this week, although, for the London Dungeon, it was for all the wrong reasons. The tourist attraction thought it would be funny to post an array of sexist and tasteless posts to celebrate cupid’s day. I’m not even going to try and censor them to make them semi-appropriate for this blog, but you can see them here, thanks to Mashable Australia.

It’s hard to imagine how some poor soul thought running a series of jokes about violence, body shaming and murder of sex workers could possibly be okay? Even more concerning is that there was probably a whole team of people behind that decision! But then again, even the biggest social media platforms are struggling to prevent online harassment. This perception hurts Twitter in particular, with advertisers increasingly ditching the platform due to its reputation as a safe haven for trolls. It makes sense. Companies don’t want to put brand reputations at risk, and unfortunately for Twitter,  some think simply using software-controlled moderation will only make the problem worse.

Trump Card Threatens Diversity

And of course, you couldn’t end any discussion of equality without specifically mentioning President Trump. His controversial immigration ban promoted many brands, particularly those in the tech sector, to express their opposition. Athletic fashion label Nike has also been vocal and its new ad recruits Serena Williams, LeBron James and Kevin Durant to push for equality.

The Spirit Of Australia

Now, to a brighter note. In the build up to Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival, it’s nice to see Qantas asking their staff what equality means to them. Not surprisingly, flight attendants, captains, corporate staff and ground crew used words like opportunity, freedom, fairness and strength win the ad. Along with the commercial, a social campaign encourages people to use the #Equalityis hashtag. Additional components are likely to be released closer to the parade, and we’ll be keeping an eye out with anticipation and respect for their commitment to a cause.

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