2014-02-14

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New Tool Increases Diversity in Radio

The Swedish national public service broadcaster Sveriges Radio (SR) is instructed by the government to reflect the Swedish society. But when its Gothenburg office started to keep statistics of its radio voices, they found that middle-aged men of Swedish origin were clearly overrepresented.

The journalists and programme hosts also turned out to share educational background to a large extent.

‘When we assessed recruitments made, we found a well-established path from the journalism programmes at the universities. And the people we hire reflect who is and who is not admitted to those schools,’ says Karin Janson, programme director in Gothenburg.

One of Many Diversity Projects

SR has been part of many diversity projects over the years, with varying results. The management still accepted the invitation when a central diversity coordinator suggested a tool called Dive.

‘SR wanted to test Dive on a unit of our size, so that’s why we were asked. We knew we weren’t doing great with these issues, and felt we should do more.’

‘To do this you need to work on all levels, and the tool helps you structure this work’

Once the decision to test Dive had been made, the two process leaders Åsa Helg and Git Hanson entered the picture. They have guided SR on how to use the tool.

‘Dive is based on an assessment of what you do, and when you use it, it doesn’t take long to realise that you need to change a whole bunch of stuff. To do this you need to work on all levels, and the tool helps you structure this work,’ says Git Hanson.

Under Constant Development

Dive has been developed over a long period of time and is still being improved. Four persons, two from Sverige 2000-institutet (the Sweden 2000 institute) and two from Centrum för Förändringsledning (centre for change management), are in charge of the development and also consult the participating organisations – SR and 12 others. Hanson describes the tool as a framework that each company and organisation can adapt to suit its needs.

So How is Dive Used at Sveriges Radio?

’We have chosen to focus on staff recruitment and break it down into two tracks: those who work here and those who can be heard on the radio,’ Janson explains.

In a second step, a situation analysis was performed. This analysis pointed to all the weaknesses. The analysis was given due time, although SR was eager to get to work.

‘We got inspired when we saw what changes we could make and wanted to get started right away.’

‘We got inspired when we saw what changes we could make and wanted to get started right away. But then Git stepped in and told us to be patient, which was good.’

Each SR office/programme has been asked to break down the central diversity plan and develop their own mini-policies with goals. A goal can be anything from recruiting a person of non-Nordic origin within a certain time to have every fifth radio voice be a person with a different ethnic background.

Sveriges Radio is right now actively reviewing its entire recruitment process. As part of a central SR initiative, the Gothenburg office has been assigned a half-time position for recruitment work.

Have You Already Seen Results of Your Diversity Efforts?

’In the past, new staff have often been recruited to fill immediate and very urgent needs. In those situations it has been easy to rely on traditional methods. Today more applicants are given a chance to come in for interviews and testing. In the past we have had trainee positions reserved for students from the universities’ journalism programmes – today these positions are open to everyone.’

‘In the past we have had trainee positions reserved for students from the universities’ journalism programmes – today these positions are open to everyone.’

Janson wishes that the journalism programmes could recruit their students more broadly. In relation to this, SR is planning to visit high schools to encourage for example students with non-Swedish backgrounds to consider a future in journalism. But it is not only an issue of ethnic background; diversity in terms of interests and experiences is equally important.

‘All the applicants we receive tend to look similar. They have all studied film studies and gender. One young man had played ice hockey at a high level and been team captain, but did not mentioned that in his application. Instead he wrote about things he thought were important to us. That type of behaviour also contributes to the formation of a norm,’ says Janson.

Sveriges Radio Göteborg thinks that the work with the Dive tool will lead to long-term changes for many reasons.

‘We in the steering group have made this our mission. We think it’s important. There has been broad participation across the organisation – all programmes have made plans that they will follow up.’

About the Tool,

  • DIVE is a tool intended to support organisations in their strategic diversity work. It is designed to be integrated into the operational plans. Dive is comprehensive in nature and helps organisations integrate diversity work in their daily operations.
  • DIVE integrates several different areas, such as gender equality, ethnic diversity, accessibility, sexual orientation and age.
  • The following factors have been built into the tool: management engagement, participation (staff and stakeholders), action (do and act practically), customer and stakeholder focus, work directly in the work process and communication (horizontally and vertically).
  • The tool is based on the following steps: lay a foundation; situation analysis; develop targets; action plan and implementation; follow-up and evaluation; and a new approach.
Enikö Koch
Source: Tema Likabehandling (the Thematic Group on Equality)
Edited: 25 Oct 2016
Published: 14 Feb 2014
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