‘Hipsters’ Holding Back Diversity in the Media Industry

Average media worker is a male hipster, report warns lack of diversity is harming industry

A report out today warns a lack of racial and gender diversity in Australia’s media is dragging down the future growth of the industry.

Key points:

  • Research indicates the average media worker is a white male “hipster” living in the inner city
  • 75 per cent of media employees are white, male, aged over 35 and monolingual
  • Report editor Megan Brownlow says media outlets must review their strategies to improve gender and racial diversity

The research shows that instead of reflecting real world Australia, the average media worker is a white male “hipster” who lives in Sydney’s inner west or eastern suburbs.

In Melbourne — Australia’s second biggest media market — the typical media worker lives in the inner city suburbs of St Kilda or Richmond.

The disturbing snapshot is revealed in PwC’s annual media and entertainment outlook, which urges the media sector to tackle internal culture and recruitment problems to create better diversity in ethnicity, gender and age.

The outlook examines workplace diversity in the media for the first time and says the industry is overrepresented by English monolingual staff with 75 per cent of employees white, male and aged over 35.

Megan Brownlow, who edited the outlook for PwC, told The World Today the media sector needed to face up to some disturbing truths about media workers confirmed in the geospatial modelling.

“It turns out to be the Bondi hipster — a 27-year-old white male who lives in Bondi,” Ms Brownlow said.

“The top 10 suburbs for media and entertainment people are all in Sydney, either in the eastern suburbs or the inner west.”

Ms Brownlow said the report showed that Australia had moved on dramatically from 1910 when the average Australian was a 24-year-old white male farmer who was Anglican and of British background.

“I think it’s fairly apparent that we are not a very diverse industry,” Ms Brownlow said.

“If we to fast-forward to today, the average Australian has changed from being a male to a female.

“She’s a 37-year-old and her belief is not Anglican but Catholic, and she works in retail.”

But when it comes to decision makers, or senior managers, the average profile is a 45-year-old white male who is less likely to be bilingual.

The PwC report reflects recent comments made by ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie that the national broadcaster needed to better mirror Australian society.

Ms Brownlow said all broadcasters, including the ABC, needed to constantly review their strategies to improve diversity.

She said the lack of diversity stemmed from “unconscious bias” or “similarity of attraction”, where employers are drawn to people like themselves.

However, Ms Brownlow has highlighted Waleed Aly, who recently won a Gold Logie, as a role model of changing times in the media, along with Rebecca Maddern, who is now presenter of the Victorian version of The Footy Show on the Nine network.

Follow Peter Ryan on Twitter @peter_f_ryan and on his Main Street blog.

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