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Time’s Up! Practical Tips For Equality In The Workplace

By Sound Girls

We have all read the articles about the lack of women and diversity in music production. Articles titled, “Where are all the Women in (insert your discipline here)”? We have all seen the clickbait headlines “Women Have Better Hearing than Men,” “What’s it Like Being the Only Women on Tour?”, and we have all read the comment sections that soon turn nasty.

We have discussed the lack of diversity in the industry ad nauseam. We are amazed year after year by the lack of women and other marginalized groups represented on panels, in ad campaigns, articles, and interviews.

We are once again horrified (but not shocked) to hear about sexual harassment and assault in our industry. And we are all tired of having to KICK DOWN THE DOOR to just get our foot in.

It’s 2018, and we need to stop talking about it and take concrete steps towards inclusion in our industry.

We need to create actual change. Angela Davis asks and demands us to not only fight for a just world but to imagine the world we want and need. On diversity, Davis has this to say: “Diversity — It should not be a visual effect. You can have difference that truly makes a difference, but you can also have difference that doesn’t make a difference … that allows the machine to keep functioning in the same old way … sometimes more efficiently and effectively.”

We must ensure the steps we take don’t continue to make our problematic current institutional, cultural and societal structures stronger.

So as we move forward taking concrete steps to remake our world and industry, we want to participate and enact change proactively.

Here are a few steps we can all take to begin working towards a more inclusive world.

Remember, diversity initiatives aren’t a checklist. This is an ongoing process and challenging work. We also acknowledge that our current institutional, cultural and societal structures are fundamentally flawed and that until we fix those, these suggestions are only band-aids.

Addressing Unconscious Bias Within Your Company and Hiring Practices.

We all have deep and ingrained unconscious bias. Yes, even the most enlightened and progressive among us. While this is hard and difficult work – we encourage everyone to try to unpack and understand it. You can do a google search to understand and work through unconscious bias – but here is a helpful article to get you started –  Avoiding Unconscious Bias at Work.

When it comes to unconscious bias in hiring, we all need to understand that this affects who gets the chance to interview and who will get the job.

While many companies spend a lot of time, energy and financial resources to increase diversity,  others do not have the resources, and still, some are not even aware of these issues.

Very few companies ever improve their diversity without support from the top. Leadership needs to invest in diversity and inclusion. They must be role models in exhibiting inclusive behaviors, managing their own unconscious bias and enthusiastically supporting employees from non-traditional backgrounds.

The Pipeline Deficiency – “You can’t find qualified candidates.”

This statement implies that women and ethnic minorities are, as a whole, under qualified.

If you believe this to be the case, as you only have a pile of resumes from white men, you need to expand your job search. Review where you are recruiting employment applications. Expand your job search by reaching out to groups that promote underrepresented people.

Understand the unconscious bias that affects your evaluation of qualifications.

Men tend to be called back for an interview over women with the same qualifications, and the same happens with candidates that have black or latinx sounding names.

Women and other marginalized groups tend to be rated more harshly after interviews.

Companies tend to hire from their networks; this leads to hiring people with very similar backgrounds as your current employees. Expand your job searches.

Companies may have a culture that is alienating. What are people from underrepresented groups saying about your company? You should act to address these issues.

Consider Enacting Blind Resumes

Resumes contain a lot of information about the applicant, but they also provide details about race, class, and gender. This affects who is considered.

Remove names – When women auditioned for orchestras behind a curtain it increased their chances by 50% – The Impact of Blind Auditions on Female Musicians

Consider removing university names and activities. These tend to signal race, gender and class differences.

Gapjumpers will test applicants on their skills and provide employers a list of candidates.

Instead of Blind Resumes Put in Place a Diverse Hiring Committee

Have a diverse hiring committee in place. The committee should all look through the same stack of resumes, and each brings their qualified candidates to the table. The committee hopefully will help check each member’s unconscious bias and will end up with a diverse group of candidates to choose from.

Again, this is dependent on the resumes you receive. If you only have a pile of resumes from white men, you need to expand your job search. Review where you are recruiting employment applications. Seek the diversity, don’t expect it to just come to you.

To ensure that all candidates are treated the same, make sure they are all asked the same questions. Unstructured interviews can lead managers to overlook important details. Evaluate candidates during the interview process. Use a checklist.

Candidates should be interviewed by several managers. Do not use a panel to interview as your perspective can be shaped by other colleagues. Do not compare notes until the interview process is complete.

Adopt the Rooney Rule – This rule requires the NFL to interview minority candidates for every coaching job. You should interview several minority candidates for every job, but especially for managerial and leadership roles.

Unconscious Bias in Academia (this applies to Academia in our industry)

Although this will not eliminate all bias, a step we can take to address gender, race, and class bias is to have research and white papers submitted blindly – with no name or indication of gender, race, etc. Then we can judge these papers on their merits.

You must be aware of the spaces and organizations you are recruiting from. Is the culture alienating to marginalized groups? Are you recruiting from your networks that may be full of people that are similar to yourself? Expand your search by reaching out to groups that promote underrepresented groups. Make sure you are aware of the structural barriers in place that deter women and other underrepresented groups from submitting papers.

For Educators

Please make sure you are featuring, sharing and discussing engineers and producers of all genders and races. Include a balanced list of industry leaders in your coursework.

Make sure your classroom is inclusive and welcoming for all your students.

Make women and other marginalized people normal by highlighting them. Remember “You can’t be what you can’t see.”

Recommend diverse groups that can help your students find mentoring, internships and support.

Trade Magazines

Feature women and other marginalized groups regularly.

Don’t pat yourselves on the back when you do finally feature a woman. Featuring three female engineers out of the 130 of the interviews you have done, is not progress.

If you can’t find these people, then you are not interested, don’t care and are not doing your research. These people are literally everywhere working in all aspects of our industry.

For the readers of trade magazines; let them know that you expect a more diverse representation in their publications. Write to them, email them.  Here is an example letter you can modify and send to them. This is tailored for the sound industry but you can tailor it for your sector of work as you see fit.

Marketing Departments

We are tired of seeing the same white male engineers using your gear, and we like to support companies that promote inclusiveness. Like the trade magazines, let the marketing departments know what you want to see. Comment on their online representation, provide feedback on how they advertise.

Here is a diverse ad campaign DiGiCo ran in 2017, featuring four women  Excellence Exposed

Panels For Trade Shows & Events

Put together a diverse committee that will make sure panels include representation from marginalized groups on panels and discussions.

Instead of putting together panels on “Women in Audio,” make sure women and other underrepresented people are featured on all panels.

List of resources for the Audio Industry

SoundGirls Directory of Women in Professional Audio and Production

Gender Amplified

International Alliance for Women in Music

#Normal Not Novelty

Sound Women

Women in Sound Women on Sound

Yorkshire Sound Women Network

50+ All-women and feminist sound/music tech collectives, co-ops, non-profits

Women in Post Production

More than a Few Female Music Producers

150 Female Producers You Need to Know

The Five Percent

The AWITTechGuide

Article by Sound Girl: Karrie Keyes

Published in cooperation with Soundgirls.org

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