Three Steps Forward, Ten Steps Back

This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “The Bigger Picture” series, written by Charese Fruge on February 2, 2022 

I was recently on a text exchange with two of my radio colleagues, both extremely smart Women, one who just lost her job with a large radio/audio company in a Major market, and one who just recently got the job of a lifetime with a smaller company in a Major market. It was an interesting exchange, and one not uncommon to the conversations, and statements we’ve been addressing over the last few years about the lack of female Talent and Programmers in the business and the travesty of the gender percentage difference.

The text from the Woman who just found her dream job said: “I have found something better in (Insert Company Name here). They’ve hired me, an older white woman, to not only run a heritage station, but to be on-air too, and I’m way out of the demo. What they understand was my skill set and that’s what they wanted when they hired me. They are also paying our male and female co-hosts the SAME salary. It’s such a refreshing situation, I keep pinching myself. I believe there are still amazing companies that have fantastic values they incorporate into their business practices. They want to look at radio differently and they do value their employees’ different perspectives. It’s unfortunate that (Insert Other Company Name Here) didn’t embrace what you (my other colleague) had to offer. Someone else will!”

The text from the woman who just got let go after only a year, despite fantastic ratings, in a Major Market said: “Morning! I hope my rant doesn’t wake anyone, but I’ve been stewing over this the past few days. And all morning. Four out of Five full time people in our cluster that got let go in COVID were opinionated women. (Me included but I wasn’t going to resign.) Now? In this day and age? There are seven men and one woman at one station in the cluster, one woman and one man at another, four men and two women at another, and two men and ZERO women at another (a female station). So? Fourteen men and FOUR Women. That REALLY bothers me. Two of those women were there for 20+ years!!! What was ‘wrong’ with us? WE HAD AN OPINION AND WE USED IT. I see it as ‘women are moody, and I can’t handle it.’ Just because we have an opinion doesn’t mean we’re MOODY!! It just means we’re TRYING to be heard!!! Dammit. Sh*t has not changed. Please don’t tell me this is normal.”

Sadly, it is, the proof is in the statistics, and while we see an effort among smaller companies who get it to move the needle on hiring qualified Women in the industry, it appears as though we continue to move three steps forward, and then ten steps back. Especially with the consolidation caused by the pandemic. The majority of support roles or middle management roles were eliminated, and a lot of those roles were occupied by women. What’s even more discouraging is these women are mostly being replaced by men and the effort to hire Women in new positions is STILL not a priority. The hiring managers are the same few people at the top who have the opportunity to make a difference, but the focus isn’t there. And Women are not asking for “preferential treatment,” only to actually be considered for open positions.

Is it because Women are moody and male managers cannot handle that? It’s possible, but not justified. Because, truth be told, Men are JUST as moody as Women are. They just respond differently to one another than they do to women. How many times have you heard the question, “Why is it, if a Woman is ballsy and tough or won’t take crap, she’s referred to as a ‘Bitch’ or a ‘Bull in a China Shop,’ but a man is not?” I’d love to get a real answer to that question.

I also do think that the “three steps forward, ten steps back” scenario when it comes to hiring Women we often see in the broadcast industry (as suggested above) IS because some Male Managers do not like Women with strong opinions. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been in that position. Time to get over that…. It’s also time to move into the 21st Century. Just about every other industry in existence has made gender & cultural equality one of its top priorities, hiring diversity managers to ensure that their companies are in fact, Equal Opportunity Employment institutions.

We can pretend that the “broadcast industry is doing the same,” but the statistics and hiring practices do not show any proof of that, especially when it comes to Talent and Program Directors. Half the time a position is created, and a Man is hired before the job is even posted in our world. I’ll say it for the millionth time, Women in this business are not looking for preferential treatment when it comes to being hired, they’re just looking to actually be considered for the job and if qualified, hired for it. They’re here to do more than help you with your EEO requirements. They’re here to offer you an additional outlook, skill set and critical thinking ability which will help your business and brands reach full potential.