FIPP’s Next steps to DEI in media report available to members now

Diversity, equity, and inclusion may have become three of the most important words in the media industry, but the battle to make the workplace more representative is far from over. As companies continue to grapple with the best ways to level the playing field, FIPP releases a new report to help guide its members on their DEI journey.

Not a FIPP member yet? You can join FIPP membership directly in the report page.

Next Steps to DEI in Media builds on the foundation established by the April 2023 report, How to Start with DEI. This year’s report shows how wide media organisations need to cast its net to include, acknowledge and support everyone, with race and ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, religion, socio-economic status, educational background, nationality/immigration status, veteran status, language, intersectionality and neurodivergence/mental health all taken into account.

The report highlights just how much work still needs to be done when it comes to DEI. Figures show that 78% of newsrooms employees in the US are white; only 23% of 81 top editors in 12 surveyed markets are people of colour; 70% of articles in Australia, Canada, the UK and the US are written by men; 13,000 additional disabled individuals need to enter the UK TV industry to reflect the general population; and it will take Sub-Saharan Africa 95 years and North Africa 140 years to reach gender parity.

“I want to see a much more fundamental realignment of newsroom cultures,” journalist Shirish Kulkarni points out in the report. “These issues won’t be addressed by just employing a few more black or brown or disabled people. It’s the people who already hold the power that need to do the work, on themselves and their organisations.”

The report underlines how the publishing media industry faces multifaceted challenges in achieving DEI, with a historical lack of representation causing underrepresented groups to often be marginalised in both content creation and editorial positions. Unconscious biases can also seep into the editorial process, affecting story selection, portrayal, and overall content creation.

Dismantling systemic barriers that hinder access to opportunities for marginalised individuals remains a challenge. Breaking the cycle often necessitates targeted recruitment strategies, mentorship programmes, and initiatives that address disparities in hiring and promotion.

Addressing the pitfalls of DEI, the reports warns against tokenism, superficial representation, statements without action, short-term initiatives and ignoring intersectionality.

The study also features case studies showing how media organisations have promoted DEI within the industry. For instance, Quartz has overhauled its recruitment process in 2020 to improve diversity among its teams. Employees of colour now make up half the newsroom and 42% of the company overall.

Columbia Journalism School partnered with Dow Jones in 2023 to create the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Media Collective, a “new talent incubator program” which provides training and placements to students in order to support emerging journalists and boost diversity in newsrooms.

And The Washington Post created the News Leaders Diversity Initiative, aiming to address the underrepresentation of women and people of colour in leadership positions within the news industry. The company has also established a leadership academy for diversity in media aimed at graduate students.

While the media industry has made strides in recognising the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion, the figures in the report show that there is still a need for substantive reform that address the root causes of inequality, and a comprehensive commitment to systemic change that goes beyond hiring quotas and token gestures.

The study also warns against institutional ‘DEI fatigue’ – distinct from the exhaustion felt by DEI practitioners – which, Forbes suggests, is “resistance…a reluctance to continue funding and supporting DEI efforts [that] might be a reflection of broader societal pushbacks against progressive change.”

The report shows how, in essence, the media and publishing industry’s commitment to DEI needs to be grounded in an understanding that lasting change requires persistent effort, cultural transformation, and a collective dedication to dismantling systemic inequalities.

“By fostering an environment where every voice is heard and valued, the industry not only meets ethical and moral imperatives, but also positions itself as a dynamic, innovative force capable of shaping a more equitable and inclusive global narrative,” the study stresses.

Not a FIPP member yet? You can join FIPP membership directly in the report page.


Your first step to joining FIPP's global community of media leaders

Sign up to FIPP World x