What Women Need For True Gender Equality

My name is Silvia Botella and I lead the marketing activities at Red Bee Media, a global broadcast and media services company. I have been working with media for two decades now, and during my career I’ve had to overcome two big challenges: being a woman and being a non-native English speaker in a male-dominated and very UK-centric business. Nevertheless, I have recently received a RISE Award, being recognized as an “outstanding woman who is working in a marketing or PR role in the industry”, and I have been working in a multinational company from Barcelona for 10 years. Quite big achievements, I would proudly say!

My experience in the Media and Entertainment industry

I have been working in the M&E industry my whole career since I had my first job when I was 22. The first half of my career I was working with content owners, managing international rights. There is a very good representation of women in this sector, and I didn’t feel that being a women meant I had fewer opportunities – the sales and marketing function is full of good saleswomen.

I had been working at tiny, small and medium-sized Spanish companies but at some point, in my career I decided I needed a boost to move forward, so I decided to get an MBA in a prestigious Business School. This was a turning point in my career – the MBA empowered me to be ambitious, to be aware of my professional value and pushed me to envisage who I wanted to be in the future. My first decision was that I wanted to work in an international environment and wanted to grow professionally in a management level.

I came across a great opportunity – Red Bee Media. Joining this British company allowed me to be part of a multinational environment in the heart of the M&E industry and become more tech focused. It was all new to me and it was challenging and exciting.

Overcoming the challenges

Very quickly, I realized 1) it was a handicap to be a woman in this part of the industry; 2) even if it was challenging, it was possible to succeed outside of the UK if you were working in a mature company that allowed for remote working; and 3) there were fantastic professional women that could become role models for me. These women had something in common – they were ambitious managers with a strong human focus in their teams, as well as being hard-working and hands-on professionals.

When Red Bee became part of Ericsson, the female disadvantage became even harder. It is not easy to be a saleswoman in the telco industry – even worse, in fact, if you are trying to do business in Spain. I must admit that moving from sales to marketing made things smoother from a female perspective. In any case, it was clear that the broadcast tech industry is a man’s business.

I am happy to see that Diversity and Inclusion has become a hot topic in our industry, but there is still a lot of work to do. The gender gap is just something no one can deny today, and even if we have increased the percentage of women in the industry overall, the number of women in senior management positions is still very low. That’s why a focus on retention and career progression is critical for the industry. I agree on how important it is to overcome biases and promote engineering studies for young girls and to promote early careers in the media industry for young talents, but if we want these young ladies to be successful and reach senior positions, they need to have women mentors, role models and sponsors to support them. And this can only be achieved if we support the current women in the industry and help them progress professionally.

In the latest Ofcom Five-year review: Diversity and equal opportunities in UK broadcasting, the UK regulatory body stated that

“Broadcasters appear to have focused on entry-level recruitment at the expense of retaining diverse staff and enabling them to progress. Overall gains in representation appear to be disproportionately due to entry-level hiring and this is consistent with our impression that initiatives have often focused on recruitment and early careers. Neither is there evidence of progress towards an industry which retains older colleagues – only 16% of women in the TV workforce are aged 50+ (compared with 22% of men and 32% of the working age population).’ The report continues, ‘Across some underrepresented groups, retaining staff would have a bigger effect on future diversity than increasing recruitment alone.”

What do women need?

What do women really need for us to achieve gender equality? We need support from three main pillars:

  • Governments: they should create serious programs to support work and family care balance. There are many initiatives in different countries, but I want to highlight here the tremendous work that the group Asociación Yo no renuncio is doing in Spain.
  • Corporations: with clear and real actions and programs that promote female representation in senior roles and working beyond good intentions and cosmetic activities. We need targets to track performance and progress – and resources to do it.
  • Families: the family needs to work as a team to make it happen. Women have historically been the ones taking care of children, the elderly, and the whole domestic environment, from shopping to cleaning. It is not about “helping” the woman to do the work, it’s about real co-responsibility.

There is a big social movement working towards a better future. In this reflection I have focused on the gender gap but there are many other dimensions that need to be considered to improve diversity in the working environment. In the meantime, all initiatives that help give visibility to this movement are more than welcome. I want to thank the Streaming Video Alliance for creating this blog and inviting me to participate. This is part of the journey. Do you want to join us?

Silvia Botella
Digital And Corporate Marketing Manager at | + posts

Silvia Botella has more than 15 years of experience in management positions within Marketing and Sales. Having developed a wide career in the Media Industry – a fast-paced and fascinating sector – she has been instrumental to the launch of many exciting projects. From introducing new business lines in a company to generating business growth through sales, her understanding of the international Media ecosystem has allowed her to navigate uncertainty. Getting an MBA was a turning point in her career, allowing her to grow at a senior level and opening new opportunities in the Marketing field. Silvia also collaborates with the Esade business school as a tutor of Bachelor theses and participating in evaluation committees. Silvia has worked in very small companies and huge multinationals and the international flavor is a must for her. Because, at the end of the day, companies are made of people - and working can be the most exciting journey.