In 2017 the BBC launched the 50:50 Project, in an attempt to increase the representation of women through the collection of data. 5 years later the 50:50 project is now a global network, driving change across multiple industries. Today we chat to 50:50 Project Lead at emap Martin Quinn about the recent expansion, with participation having grown from three titles to 13.
What made you want to work in publishing?
I got into publishing by complete accident, I got a temp role working for Taxbriefs, which provides financial content for Financial Advisors and Accountancy firms, then I was asked to run the commercial relationships for headlinemoney which led me further into the world of financial services on the PR and communications side, and by extension I now work closely with colleagues in trade magazines Money Marketing and Mortgage Strategy.
Could you tell us a bit about the 50:50 Equality Project and its origins?
The project was the brainchild of Ros Atkins who presents Outside Source on the BBC news channel, he noticed that in one week, not one contributor was a female, and that this had to change, so alongside his researchers and producers looked to change this, by way of monitoring and counting data, with one important caveat, regardless of gender, only the best person gets on air.
Since those early days the project has grown to over 700 BBC teams and over 140 external partners worldwide.
Can you explain what the March Challenge Month was?
Every March the BBC publishes it’s 50:50 data in the Impact Report, and the March Challenge is to try to get all teams to 50:50 in March.
Within emap we did exceptionally well, out of 13 titles who took part, 6 achieved 50% and over female representation.
What would you say to quota sceptics?
Firstly the data does not lie, people often say of course we are gender diverse, but until you actually count and record the data, you will never know how well you are doing, and by counting data you are putting a marker down, drawing a line in the sand, and in most cases over time you will see an improvement.
To quota sceptics, all of us need to try and reflect society in the magazines and websites we produce, and we have proved that 50:50 is actually working and making a marked difference to our audiences.
50:50 has an impressive spread of publications, including several B2B titles that represent quite traditionally male dominated industries like engineering. How do you go about engaging with these publications?
We are rightly proud of both engineering titles, New Civil Engineer and Ground Engineering, and it really is down to the editors, Claire Smith and Nia Kajastie. Without the passion and hard work of the journalists it would be impossible to get new diverse voices in our content, it can be lazy just to use the same old faces, but we all need to encourage new spokespeople and commentators.
50:50 has made fantastic progress in the 5 years that it has been running – are there plans to expand the definition of equality beyond gender equality?
The BBC are actively now counting disability and ethnicity for the first time in March, and the hope is that this will be extended to the external partners over time.
What’s on your radar?
We have so much more to do at emap, we started with 3 titles, now it 13, so the aim is to keep driving this forward.
In addition myself, Claire Smith and Miranda Holt from the BBC will be presenting at the PPA Festival in May, so quite excited about that!
What magazine do you stockpile?
Work wise it has to be Money Marketing and I do love to see a magazine in print, especially when they run a striking gender feature on the cover, Time to Break the Bias in March was a particular favourite.
I also try and pick up Today’s Golfer fairly regularly, to try and pick up some tips!