How BBC News is supporting women in the workplace

17 December 2015 -


Global Women in News has grown to over 1,000 members since 2014. Read how the global women’s network is promoting gender equality and changing the culture of the BBC

Matt Scott

The Davies Review found in October that the number of women serving on FTSE 100 boards had more than doubled in just five years, meaning that women now take up over a quarter of seats at the UK’s leading companies.

Despite this, true gender equality is still some way off and Lord Davies has now recommended a new target for 33% of directorships to be held by women, across the entire FTSE 350, by 2020.

At BBC News, a group of women news workers have already taken matters into their own hands and set up a global network to promote gender equality and help its members build their careers in what has traditionally been a male-dominated industry.

Global Women in News (GWiN) is a networking and development group for women in BBC News, wherever they are based around the UK or the world. The network was founded in 2014 to support the visibility and development of women in BBC News, both on and off the air, and to boost and support the career progression of the female workforce in a meaningful way.

The group was initially co-founded by several senior women working in Global News, and soon after expanded to cover all women working in domestic as well as International News, covering an 8000 strong workforce.

GWiN now has over 1,000 members – a third of the total number of women working in BBC News, making it the BBC’s biggest staff network.

Sarah Gibson, who co-founded GWiN, said the network provided inspiration for women working at the BBC and promoted female role models for women to aspire to.

“GWiN runs regular networking events with a range of inspiring guest speakers talking about how their career paths evolved and taking questions from the audience,” she said. “These have included women like journalist and author, Arianna Huffington, founder of the Inspiring Women Campaign, Miriam- Gonzalez-Durantez, as well as senior women in the BBC such as the director of sport, Barbara Slater, and the president of BBC Worldwide America, Ann Sarnoff.

“The events have meant a greater visibility of female role models both in and outside the BBC. Networking at events has also facilitated employees to have more access to senior women role models and leaders. Working with external companies has enabled GWiN to share best practice as well as giving members the opportunity to make new cross-industry contacts.”

In addition to networking events, GWiN also offers a number of training courses to help women progress up the career ladder and move up into the higher echelons of the BBC:

Stepping Up Training course

A 2 day training course to be offered to 15 GWiN members mid-career designed to develop the skills needed to secure a promotion.

The Women in Leadership programme

GWiN partnered with the Women in Leadership programme for a 12 month programme for 15 senior women designed to foster their mobility in the organisation.

Confidence training

GWiN has run confidence training sessions for members based in London and five of the UK regions. 120 women have taken part and the network has plans to run training sessions for overseas members via skype.

Gibson said: “Through these initiatives, GWiN has been able to offer women at different stages of their careers some opportunities to develop. Some of these ideas were borne out of career stage workshops and feedback from members of what would be beneficial to them.”

“The women on the leadership programme each mentor three people therefore passing on the knowledge they acquire and helping to build a female pipeline,” she added.

To build on these opportunities, GWiN also launched a mentoring programme that has helped 150 mentees over the past 18 months. It also provides training for mentors through the BBC Coaching Academy.

A cultural change

Gibson said that the reaction to the network has been positive, with improved diversity across BBC News and ‘hope that a culture change is possible within the workforce’.

“Feedback from GWiN members has been consistently extremely positive, and included being seen as an authentic group, that puts on informative, and exciting events as well as acting as a catalyst for meaningful change and a chance to meet other women across the organisation,” she said. “Aside from the tangible difference GWiN has started to make to improve diversity in BBC News, the network has fostered a real sense of positivity, and hope that a culture change is possible within the workforce.”

Find the latest CMI research and articles on women and diversity here 

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