November 30, 2015

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06/16/03 Doing The Right Thing

Before I became a dad last year, I could never fully appreciate the weight of every decision and its impact on the family. Sometimes you do something because it seems to be the right thing to do. Down the road, your decisions have more impact than originally imagined.

One of my business decisions was to dedicate the magazine to addressing the issues faced by women in our industry. Radio Ink created the “Most Influential Women In Radio” list to recognize the accomplishments of great women in this industry and highlight the severe inadequacies of opportunity and equality. Little did I know that, years later, I would have a daughter, and these concerns would have more meaning than ever.

Recently at the Katz Women’s Summit in New York, I received an award for my efforts. Approaching the podium in front of a sea of women, I found myself humbled by the many women affected by the list and its focus. I dedicated the award to my daughter, Grace, knowing that someday she too would face the same issues in the work environment.

There is so much work to be done, and so much needs to change before Grace moves into the workforce. Issues that should no longer exist are still present in many Radio companies. I don’t want my daughter to have to fight as hard as these women have had to fight. I don’t want my daughter to be subjected to sexual innuendo, to have to deal with inappropriate advances from co-workers, to be subjected to ice sculptures of giant phallic symbols at sales meetings (yes, this did occur recently within a major broadcast firm). I want her to be able to live a decent life, earn a decent wage based on her merits and not be disadvantaged because of her sex.

Lip service is the enemy. No longer can Radio station owners say that theirs is a woman-friendly environment if their actions do not live up to their words. The “Most Influential Women” identified by Radio Ink have evolved into an action group whose goal is to keep companies focused on issues of gender diversity. The group has taken action by collecting and analyzing data, then annually releasing an MIW Radio Gender Analysis Study. It has created an MIW mentoring program for women who want to succeed, and it has brought these issues to the forefront of our industry. The MIWs are not a radical organization full of angry women; they are simply Radio professionals who are working toward helping us all do the right thing.

I’ve encouraged the MIW group to keep records of companies that are women-friendly, to publish lists of companies that uphold such standards. We will not publish names of companies that don’t support those standards, but absence from the list should be an embarrassment.

Last year, there was only one woman on our annual “40 Most Powerful People In Radio” list. Remember that this list is a reflection of the state of the industry. One in 40 isn’t a very good average. Though the industry is populated with women in sales, sales management and moderately in general management, there are very few in such senior positions as vice presidents of Radio companies and hardly any in presidential or CEO roles. Wouldn’t be nice if, by the time my daughter is running my companies, we see a “40 Most Powerful” list with at least 50 percent women who are there by merit? Let’s hope we don’t have to wait that long.

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