RadioCentre CEO Siobhan Kenny was one of the industry speakers welcoming the third anniversary of radio networking organisation Sound Women at an event at the House of Commons today.
Siobhan used the event to highlight the work Sound Women undertook in 2013, revealing that only 20 per cent of shows on UK radio are presented solely by women. Building on this work, RadioCentre had undertaken its own snapshot study of all commercial radio available in London last week, which showed that 29% of the shows on commercial radio in London are presented solely by women. Siobhan said that she hoped that this indicated an improvement on the Sound Women study, but she said that there was still much to do. She also promised to make diversity a priority for RadioCentre.
Since its launch in 2011, the organisation has worked towards making sure women in radio are better represented on air and in senior positions. As well as running a mentoring scheme, several training courses and launching a festival, Sound Women continues to undertake research into the representation of women on radio.
Speaking on Tuesday afternoon, Siobhan was keen to emphasise the important contribution the organisation has in increasing diversity in the sector. “It has been a feisty and action packed first 3 years for Sound Women. My first speaking engagement as CEO of RadioCentre was at a Sound Women event, because I know how important organisations like Sound Women are in making the case for equality not just in radio, but across the whole media industry,” she said.
“Having worked in public and private sector roles in my career, I used to think the public sector blazed the trail in terms of understanding why diversity matters. But increasingly now businesses understand that it’s a no-brainer and makes sound commercial sense to have a workforce which more accurately reflects the population at large.”
Hosted by MPs Andrew Bingham and Damian Green, the gathering included leading names from BBC and commercial radio, as well as Broadcasting Minister Ed Vaizey and parliamentarians from all the major political parties.
Opening the event, Damian Green MP (Chair of the BBC All Party Parliamentary Group) praised the “great work done by Soundwomen in its first three years” before handing over to Soundwomen patron, Jane Garvey. Jane, who was accompanied by fellow patron Annie Nightingale, reminded guests that “there still aren’t enough female voices on radio” adding that “if you only ever hear male voices, you only hear the male experience, and that’s only half the story”.
Helen Boaden, Director of BBC Radio announced that “BBC Local Radio is on track to achieve its ambition of having 50% of its breakfast shows presented or co-presented by women” and said that “Soundwomen has been a marvellous partner for the BBC and the rest of the radio industry”.
Photo: Ed Vaizey with Sound Women Jane Harvey, Siobhan Kenny and Helen Boaden.