If you were to count all the business news stories you consumed in one week, how many would feature fellow business owners — or experts, consultants, even academics — whose backgrounds are similar to yours? How many are the same age as you? How many are the same gender?
For Australian women in business, that number would be low. Too low.
A recent Women in Media report showed women accounted for just 21% of the sources quoted in mainstream media articles in Australia, and this figure dropped to just 13% when it came to business content.
Far too often, the way Australian business is spoken about in the media simply doesn’t include the voices of women, and yet, women make up more than 50% of the Australian population. More women than ever before are running their own businesses (up 5.6% in 2016), yet there remains a serious lack of visibility of women in business in media and industry events.
How can the achievements and successes of women in business be celebrated if their stories are not being told?
It’s a question of visibility and it’s an important one. Extensive research reveals that having women in positions of leadership and influence is ‘critical to having better-run, more-effective companies’. That’s not to mention the untold benefits that could be unlocked if more girls and young women have access to stories about even more role models they can relate to.
To borrow a quote from American activist Marian Wright Edelman, “you can’t be what you can’t see”.
Australian media organisations have a responsibility to give equal weight to the business pursuits of both women and men. That includes SmartCompany. It’s why, today, we’ve taken down all our usual advertising and replaced it with a different kind of ‘advertising’ — advertising that showcases truly inspirational Australian women, who are each making a difference in their communities.
For 48 hours, you will only see these ads on our website and in our newsletters. These ads will take you to a special editorial showcase that features quotes about more than 400 Australian women, who’ve been nominated by their colleagues, employees, mentees and families.
Their stories are nothing short of inspirational — and there may have even been a tear or two in our eyes as we read through the submissions. I urge you to make time over the next few days to read about these incredible women — you won’t regret it.
My team and I are serious about our mission to make women in business more visible and so we know this can’t be a one-off thing; not just a ‘special report’ for International Women’s Day, and then a return to normal programming.
Thanks to our partner MYOB, the full editorial showcase will be active on our site for 12 months, and it sits alongside a major social media campaign and our most extensive coverage of women in business and startups yet (including our annual list of the Top Female Entrepreneurs in Australia). Special thanks too to our friends at SheStarts and BlueChilli for spreading the word about our initiative.
And today, I’m making a personal promise to work even harder to bring you more stories about Australian women in business. SmartCompany has a proud history of celebrating the achievements of all Australian entrepreneurs but there’s always more we can do. If you have a great story to tell, send us an email.
In the meantime, happy International Women’s Day.