Social partners in audiovisual sector promote gender equality

The social partners represented in the sectoral social dialogue committee for the audiovisual sector have adopted a Framework of Actions on Gender Equality. At its plenary meeting on 27 October 2011, the committee acknowledged the influence the sector has on the lives of all Europeans and drew up an agreement that covers both gender portrayal in the sector’s output and furthering equality on issues such as pay, decision-making, and work–life balance in its own workplaces.

Parties to the framework agreement

This audiovisual sector Framework of Actions on Gender Equality (396Kb PDF) was adopted by the nine social partners in the sector. On the employers’ side these are:

  • the Association of Commercial Television in Europe (ACT);
  • the Association of European Radios (AER);
  • the European Broadcasting Union (EBU);
  • the European Coordination of Independent Producers (CEPI);
  • the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF).

On the workers’ side these are:

  • EURO-MEI, the European arm of the Media, Entertainment and Arts sector of UNI Global Union;
  • the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ);
  • the International Federation of Actors (FIA);
  • the International Federation of Musicians (FIM).

In the EU, this sector employs over 1.2 million people. Of this figure, just under half (46%) are women, 82% have employee status and 75% are working full time.

The sector’s responsibilities

The framework refers to the European social partners’ Framework of Actions on Gender Equality that dates from March 2005, and to the Equal Opportunities Statement adopted by the sector’s social dialogue committee in June 2009 and reiterated in the new Framework of Actions. According to this statement, all persons working within the audiovisual sector in the EU have are entitled, among other rights, to ‘equality of opportunity in terms of training, lifelong learning and career development’, and to ‘equal pay for equal work or work of equal value’. This statement applies to everyone, ‘irrespective of their gender, sexual orientation or marital status’. The framework acknowledges the audiovisual sector’s specific responsibility to enhance the perception of gender equality and diversity by European citizens and within their families. The social partners in this sector also need to manage potential tension between two fundamental rights: equality and non-discrimination on the one hand and freedom of expression on the other. The framework has five main sections.

Gender portrayal

The social partners stress that the audiovisual sector creates a ‘version of reality’ and the production chain contributes to the way the world is seen by the audience. However, they state that, despite progress made, broadcast media do not always provide a fair and balanced representation of both genders. They also recommend to their affiliates that they protect gender portrayal through the making of audiovisual content and suggest a set of actions, such as training for managers, production executives, staff and future professionals, or quantitative and qualitative positive action. The document considers the necessity for monitoring and follow-up of these commitments to ensure that fair and balanced gender portrayal is put into practice.

Addressing gender roles at work

Since the audiovisual sector has a real influence on the lives of European citizens, signatories recommend to their affiliates that they contribute to the general commitment to break down occupational segregation for both women and men. For example, the social partners are invited to make a positive effort to attract women into technical roles and professions where they are underrepresented. They also recommend that managers should attend training on the benefits of diversity management.

Equal pay

The signatory parties have agreed on a definition of equal pay that is adapted to the characteristics of this sector and adopted a set of recommendations asking their members to create and distribute information about equal pay and the provisions of equality laws and policies, organise seminars for HR professionals and training for negotiators, and draw up and implement equal pay action plans, including elements such as wage evolution and adaptation of job classification systems.

Equality in decision-making

Organisations are invited to consider the issue of gender equality in decision-making by answering nine core questions. After this internal assessment exercise, organisations may pick up ideas for action proposed in the framework. Actions are structured into three domains; training, mentoring and positive action to improve women’s access to leadership opportunities and to support their development while in a leadership position.

Reconciliation of work and personal life

The framework stresses the benefits to the employer of providing work-life balance initiatives at work and for employees. The social partners suggest making available a mix of various working arrangements that allow for flexibility in working time (such as the compressed working week, school term-time working and ad hoc home working) and to ensure that employees are aware of this flexibility. The social partners state that the principles and practices relating to work–life balance should also be considered for those who are self-employed and dependent on the audiovisual industry for their livelihood.

Commentary

The framework agreement offers many tools to promote gender equality within companies and, in general, within audiovisual production, which may also help to change attitudes and gender representation in society. Commitments undertaken in this area by the social partners in the audiovisual sector could also have positive consequences for the entire EU workforce.

Frédéric TURLAN, HERA

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