Diversity and inclusion continue to be a sharp focus for many organisations within the podcast industry, and one of the companies at the forefront of this issue is Content Is Queen, the podcast community and production company established by Imriel Morgan.
The company is also behind the International Women’s Podcast Festival, and is co-organiser of the Equality In Audio Pact, which aims to provide a framework for organisations to increase transparency and diversity within the industry. Rhianna Dhillon and Reem Makari spoke to Morgan about the challenges involved with managing these kinds of initiatives, why companies need to do more and say less when it comes to inclusion, and how she’s planning to hold them to account.
Contingencies aren’t always enough
“We announced that [The International Women’s Podcast Festival] wasn't gonna happen in May, but I think I knew from probably February that it was unlikely to happen, given the timelines that we'd need to make something happen in the first place, and how the sponsorship conversations were going - or not going.”
“I remained optimistic and hopeful that something would change, and in my mind, I set a deadline of May; if I haven't heard from anyone by the beginning of May, then it's just not going to happen. I know how to run a very lean festival, so I was like, if we don't get all of the money we need, this is what we can do. This is like our plan C version. So we have loads of contingencies in place. I would say the writings on the wall for funding, though, were from last year.”
Measurement is vital
“I think there's around 450 companies signed up to the Equality in Audio Pact, thanks to the hard work that was done by Renay and the Broccoli Productions team when they launched it - and people are still signing up. Nearly every week, we get new signups for it, and people are inquiring about it. So it's great that there's interest and a desire to kind of commit to those pledges.”
“However, there is no current methodology or process to measure whether people are actually doing those things. In fact, we've seen that some companies on there are not doing some of those actions, be it appearing on panels that are not representative of the cities that they're in… And the idea is that we'll have the five main actions that take the pledges from pledge to action. And then we'll then look at how we can monitor and certify that those companies are doing what they say they're doing.”
Representation also requires amplification
“I actually think women's representation in podcasting has improved dramatically. The issue isn't their representation, the issue is amplification of those stories and those podcasts, and the same is true when you get into the intersections of race, gender, ability and neurodiversity.”
“I think there's some amazing, really well-made women's sports podcasts, women's true crime, definitely sex and relationships, women even on the cusp of comedy and actually in comedy, I think they're really strong. I do believe they are pigeonholed and I think there are some stats to back this up. I actually read the stats that back that up, that men just don't listen to women. They don't listen to women's podcasts”