Saleha Williams digital partner media and technology, Cognizant

Saleha Williams

Saleha Williams

  • Gender balanced companies perform better
  • Embrace diversity of thinking
  • Speed of technological change is creating opportunities 

“The data is clear, companies that are more inclusive perform better,” Williams explained.

”If you want to look at it from an economic, ROI or business case perspective there are tonnes of studies that show that all over the world.

”If you had a company that is only using half of its employee’s great ideas, or even less than half you’re creating an opportunity to go out of business.”

She explained the importance of diversity in genders, adding: ”We should be embracing everybody. The diverse thinking, the opportunities and creativity within that and that is why balance is better.

“The pace of change is huge,” reflecting on her 30 years’ in the industry Williams she added.

”The speed at which things are changing and the experiences we are able to then create are beyond anything that has happened in the last five years to 10 years, let alone the last 30 years.”

Williams urged young men and women to pursue a career in the industry, she said: “Joining the industry you are part of it is the most exciting time because of the digital innovation.” 

Lisa Perrin chief executive, Creative Networks Endemol Shine Group 

  • Balance reflects society
  • Responsibility lies with an organisation
  • A diverse team is “clever” 

IBC2018 Lisa Perrin. Endemol-D5.CMT_6397

Perrin leads 48 staff in Europe and the US within global scripted and non-scripted production and development across 65 countries. Her career working in the TV industry has spanned more than 25 years, from production, development and commissioning of multi-format programs and series.

She told IBC365: “Colour, diversity and sexuality representations on TV is important to reflect our viewers with balance across every spectrum.” 

For us particularly we work in the television industry and we make programmes for people all over the world, this needs to reflect diversity as we reflect viewership.

“I want people who are great at their jobs in a diverse workforce” - Lisa Perrin 

Perrin said: ”With balance, you are less likely to get the #MeToo behaviour and people are willing to moderate that behaviour… it is more reflective of social society.”

Read more Gender parity? A year on from #MeToo

The onus lies with the organisation, Perrin explained companies must be mindful of positive discrimination. 

She said: ”Anyone working in the media industry today should be conscious - all women would look very strange - as department head I want to have men, women, gay, straight and black colleagues.”

Endemol Shine Group have always championed diversity but critically Perrin said: “I want people who are great at their jobs in a diverse workforce. It is a clever way to put together a team, I think you just look for balance.”

Vera Bichler assistant director, ORF

  • Women “can do it”
  • Balance is important for problem solving 
  • Take the lead and set an example

Vera Bichler

A balanced team of men and women provide better problem solving and communication, Bichler said.

”During live events, you need to stay calm as everyone is trying their best to solve things.

She has worked in the industry for five years since graduating and most recently was the first female sports director at ORF Sport+ where she took the lead on directing five matches from the Women’s Football Bundesliga.

“The most important step is the workflow and communication what is coming up next.” 

In her team, there are five young assistants at ORF who all want to become the director “one day” she added. Made up of three men and two women, “they’re trying to equalise it.”

“We need more women who think they can do it and change their mindset” - Vera Bichler 

Bichler explained: “There are no challenges being a woman or too young to be taken seriously,” she explained the opportunities are there but “It is important to stay calm and well prepared for what you are doing don’t get irritated.” 

Based in Austria, she explained: “More women are getting the chances and nowadays it is only a matter of time.

“We need more women who think they can do it and change their mindset because no women have been in that position before.” 

She added: “A balanced perspective is very important and the working environment has changed with women on boards on talking to each other and gaining other perspectives - it is always good to have both sides.