The #MeToo movement started a generation of change with global industries uniting to drive a balanced workforce from pay to representation and diversity. Advocacy group Rise managing director Carrie Wootten looks back at its success and forward to industry change.

Carrie Wootten LinkedIn pic

Carrie Wootten: Rise managing director

It seems quite crazy that three years ago, Rise, as it now stands, didn’t exist and yet the organisation and the women it has supported has come so far.

One of the specific joys I get as its managing director is to see each woman we support progress in their career. Whether this is an internal promotion, women leading in their current roles with more confidence and empowerment or having secured a new position within a different company.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is ‘Each for Equal’. A clear statement that highlights an equal world is an enabled world and that this industry, in fact, all industries, are still striving for equality.

So much has been achieved, but without question, there is still a long way to go.

I’m often asked about the impact of our mentoring programme and how it helps and supports women in the sector and their feedback on the programmes speaks volumes.

One participant said: “When others comment on how far you have grown and developed in six months you know every minute has been worth the time and effort put in, not just by yourself but from all members of Rise and my mentor.

“Thank you for supporting this incredible initiative. Thank you for putting your money where your mouth is when it comes to supporting women in our industry. I never imagined how dramatically six months could change my career, my outlook, and my goals – now I feel like the sky is the limit.”

But perhaps one of the less visible outcomes, which the programme has contributed to, is changing the gender pay gap.

A few women across the programmes two-year history have been promoted but have not been given the salary increase to match. With the support and encouragement of their mentors, the women were able to secure the right the salary to match the job title and responsibilities being offered (after several conversations it should be said).

For me, this is where change happens and how each of us will contribute to a more balanced and equal world. By questioning and where needed, challenging, when there is inequality in pay or opportunity.

It still comes as a surprise to me and maybe to others reading this, that this is still an issue to be addressed. But we have seen it happen repeatedly and this needs to change.

But perhaps one of the biggest changes for Rise and our work over the last year specifically has been the development of our Rise Up Programme. The new outreach programme, where we deliver hands-on broadcast studio workshops for primary school children aged 10 and 11 years.

Whenever I have discussed the lack of diversity in the industry, most people say that we need to start encouraging talent at a young age – my response has been, let’s do this then!

We know there is a severe skills shortage amongst engineering and technical talent. I am told weekly by employers that they are looking for and are struggling to find talent and we also know that universities that have traditionally produced this talent into the sector are really struggling to recruit students too.

Rise awards

Each for Equal: Ensuring more gender diversity and an inclusive workforce

With an ageing workforce and a gap in new entrants, it seems as though there really could be a chasm opening up.

With the passion and drive of BT Sport chief engineer Andy Beale, a pilot programme was created to see how and if a workshop could be delivered to primary school children. The outcome has been that Rise now has the backing, support and investment from both BT Sport and ITV to roll this out across the UK – specifically in its pilot year to schools in Birmingham and London.

Critical to this work is going to be tracking the children’s interest in the sector once the workshop has finished and we will be doing this through regular contact with their parents to let them know about further opportunities to learn about the industry with open days, visits to outside broadcasters and studios.

I am excited about the potential Rise Up has – we have incredible partners on board, supporting us with kit and people to run the sessions, such as Sky, Clear-Com and Blackmagic Design.

But to really ensure we have more gender diversity and that we have an inclusive workforce, this programme of work needs more investment, kit and people to support it.

Each for Equal is not just a hashtag – we can all individually make a difference in 2020 by volunteering a few days of time to deliver the workshops, to promote the scheme internally within companies so Rise can secure more funding to grow and scale the programme.

We can all make a difference.

International Women’s Day campaign aims to “provide a unified direction to guide and galvanise continuous collective action.”

#EachforEqual will be continued throughout the year and as a collective force, we are empowered to make change happen.