- Tech & Gadgets
- BRW. lounge
Published 21 May 2012 15:48, Updated 24 May 2012 04:16
Who would have thought our May 10 cover, which featured uber-successful muesli queen Carolyn Creswell sitting at a cafe table with the heading ‘Carolyn Creswell wants you for breakfast’ could have caused such a stir? Some readers thought the cover was sexist, that we would not photograph a man that way.
But, truthfully, we would.
Oddly enough our cover is something we take seriously. The subjects who grace it are invariably proven operators in business who don’t need to be wearing a suit to show that they want to be taken seriously.
Carolyn runs an impressive business manufacturing breakfast cereals and the cover image depicted that in a way we thought was fresh and interesting. We’re a business magazine and where it is possible to depart from an image of a person wearing a suit, we leap at it. The early signs from newsagents suggest customers welcomed the cover.
Treating women as equals in any sphere is not about rendering the differences between men and women negligible. It is about recognising they are differences, not defining qualities that make one gender superior or inferior. Lorna Jane, Janine Allis, Mia Freedman and Carolyn Creswell are a few of the successful businesswomen we have showcased on our cover and we didn’t put any of them in a suit. Not because we are sexist but because they don’t wear suits to work. We did the same with the 2012 BRW Entrepreneur of the Year, Mark Harbottle.
While we don’t believe our Creswell cover was sexist, we respect the opinion of our readers who did. It highlights a conundrum that gender equality presents – finding the right balance.
In recent weeks, we have heard from readers who believe we don’t feature enough women in our magazine. When planning features, covers, interviews and focus points for the magazine, the only agenda we pursue is great content. We are a meritocracy. Our content is derived and created from a variety of sources. We have stories pitched to us, we pitch stories ourselves, we read widely, we brainstorm, we regularly meet with people on the coalface of business, we have flagship issues on particular topics – and from there our content falls. We don’t set out to exclude men any more than we set out to include women because to follow either of those paths would be disingenuous.
The question we’ve been asked lately, and now ask ourselves, is this: Is it our job to reflect the business world as it is or to portray the business world the way perhaps some of us wish it was? The pay inequity between men and women is still real. Women do not hold senior leadership positions in the same proportion as men. Not even close. They’re not sitting on boards or running companies as often as their male peers. Our lists, including Fast Starters, Fast 100, Young Rich and the Rich 200, remain dominated by men. These are cold, non-negotiable facts about business in Australia. They are facts that many of us in the editorial team hope will change.
We can cover the business case for why those statistics need to change, we can profile businesses that seek to change them and we can celebrate individuals such as Carolyn Creswell, who defy them. But we cannot paint a picture of a commercial world that isn’t real.
If you are a woman in business, we urge you to set about promoting your success. Get in touch with us and every business section within the media. Pitch your story and be vocal. We cannot promise coverage but we can assure you that your story won’t be ignored or revered on the basis of your gender, because that is the joy of equality.