Raising women’s voices

Laura Zelenko

We, like many media organizations, have tried for years to instill discipline in the newsroom to ensure journalists draw on a greater diversity of sources to tell the stories we publish and air. The push for more women’s voices has involved drawing up lists that aren’t maintained, counting by hand stories that quote women, appealing to TV bookers to lure women executives who are reluctant and nervous to talk. We, like many media organizations, have struggled to move the needle meaningfully.

Thanks to a renewed drive from our staff in Asia that has now spread to all of our bureaus globally, Bloomberg is now committed to significantly increasing the number of women newsmakers we tap as sources, quote in our stories and on TV and radio and include in our live events.

We are, with the help of champions across our bureaus worldwide, building the definitive global database of women executives in business and finance, and we have ambitious goals this year to increase our representation of women across all of our platforms. To ensure we meet these goals, we have created a new tool that enables the editor to check a “BNSHESAID” box whenever a woman is interviewed in a story about to be published. To make progress with women guests on air, we are launching a pilot program this week to fund media training for 12 highly-qualified women at the biggest financial firms, which we hope to expand and scale if successful. And for International Women’s Day on March 8, we will even feature a lineup of predominantly female newsmaker guests over 24 hours worldwide on TV and radio.

Why is all of this so important? When Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait asked me last year to take on a new senior role driving and continuing to expand our newsroom diversity initiatives, we discussed combining that with the team overseeing newsroom standards, in other words the group that helps ensure fairness and balance in all forms of content across every platform. Achieving those standards is absolutely dependent on our ability to draw on diverse sources of information and, significantly, to go beyond the dominant male base of executives we turn to most often and to find and lift the voices of women across industries.

Let’s remember: our stories influence the discourse in financial markets that moves the price of money and shapes the thinking in board rooms. And so, when we analyzed our own data and found a dearth of women voices, despite all of our attempts in the past to do better, we set out to change this, once and for all. And we won’t stop at women. Diversity goes well beyond gender, and we know the challenges we face to truly move the needle on new voices in our coverage is great. But we have an obligation to our readers, and to our viewers, to do so.

We are lucky. With vast resources and a global network of more than 2,700 journalists and analysts in 120 countries, Bloomberg is in a unique position to show leadership in this area. And I am proud to say, as I approach my 25th anniversary at Bloomberg, that there is a true commitment right up to the top of the company to embrace this challenge. We still have a lot to do. But I am confident we are taking the right steps to make meaningful change.