Speaking to Great British Entrepreneur Awards founder, Francesca James, Nina explained how the project has risen from humble beginnings to create better data on the representation of women in the BBC’s journalism, to becoming a global initiative.
Nina has worked on 50:50 since 2019 and has spearheaded multiple initiatives to support the BBC’s aspiration that its on-air representation reflects society. She is also a journalist and returns to the newsroom occasionally to edit the BBC’s National TV Bulletins. Nina has worked in media her whole professional career including at The Sunday Times and The Sunday Telegraph. Nina is featured in the Global Diversity List 2020’s Top 20 Diversity Professionals and was highly commended at the Asian Women Achievement Awards 2020.
The 50:50 methodology has now been implemented by more than 100 organisations in 26 countries, increasing representation across a number of industries, which in turn has created cultural change and increased diversity in the workplace.
Nina on elaborating the project’s values
“We have 3 core principles: we use data to effect change and use it on a real-time basis to make change; we then measure what we control, and we never compromise on quality. This isn’t about quotas or helping women for women’s sake, it’s about getting the best voices out there.”
“50:50 is a gender-first project and we’ve had some great results. However, we don’t rest on our laurels. We started thinking about where to go next and identified disability and ethnicity monitoring. Representation is pretty low in the UK, so we’ve adapted our tools,” Nina continued.
Commenting on what other corporates can do to effect change for women in the workplace, Nina singled out the project’s work with the British Fashion Council, as an example.
“The work of the British Fashion Council (BFC) is very exciting – we’ve taking our three core principles and attached them to a different industry. With 50:50, the products are essentially the models, designers and makeup artists, etc,” Nina said.
“When the BFC were looking at 50:50, they were looking at how teams are made up and how that impacts on what ends up on the catwalk. We’re doing London Fashion Week - each of the different people working on the different shows will have their mobile phone and use a QR code to do a quick survey, and this data goes back to the BFC and then the design houses.
“They can then understand the staff they have working on each project. They can then understand where gaps are, change recruitment, change supplies, accordingly. It creates a collaborative environment in which to forge change,” Nina continued.
“Energy and legal sectors are doing a similar thing - they are taking a holistic approach. We are trying to get other sectors to be representative of society too. When we’re working with the energy sector - they have come up with an experts list looking for new voices within the industry; they’re looking for underrepresented people,” Nina added,
Exploring the problem with representation
“If you look more specifically at individual organisations, some have been identifying who the speakers are. Often corporate institutions aren’t badly balanced when it comes to men or women senior associates, but the people being put forward to speak for particular events or to the media are not representative of the organisation itself.
“Why are 80% of our people speaking on panels men? Maybe there’s lack of confidence among women partners and leaders; often it’s about media training. This visibility is important because that’s the way we get certain groups into our industries - it’s about role-modelling. It’s a small point but it’s so powerful.”
How can people engage with 50:50?
“Check out the project online at https://www.bbc.co.uk/5050. We’ll talk to you about your organisation and where a good starting point is for you to roll out a pilot programme. We have a global network now so we can always find someone to help and support. It doesn’t matter what sector you’re in, we walk you through how it works in detail. It starts simply, then it can grow into using web apps and many other things.
Looking forward to the future of the 50:50 project
“We’re just starting to address disability and ethnicity, and that’s the milestone for us. We’re hoping to publish new stats on this in April 2022, which will have given our colleagues at the BBC 18 months to create the improvement and show progress.
“The biggest thing for me is building the global partners’ network - people who really want to help to make the change and to help us represent various groups. I would love people to come to us with their ideas and thoughts.