The Diversity Challenge

Susan Marjetti is the Executive Director of Radio and Audio for Canada's public broadcaster and an expert on diversity in radio. She begins the session by stating that the issue of diversity is far more important than technology and gadgets, it’s about content and a constantly changing audience.

Relevance is harder now than ever before. Perspective is absolutely critical, Susan Marjetti uses the example of an art class, wherever you sit within the room the way you see the subject is completely different. CBC has sought to get as many different contributors from all walks of life to provide these diverse perspectives.

 

The mission at CBC is to be more relevant to more people. The approach adopted in 2001 saw an overhaul of the hiring process. Susan says that ‘If your mission is to look and sound like the diversity of your community then you have a choice every single day to make in terms of who is on your team and the content you are broadcasting’.

 

Susan explains that it takes about 30% of a workforce to create a cultural shift. When she left CBC six months ago, 32% of the team were from minorities as were 8/10 of the on-air hosts.

 

Universality can also be key in bringing an audience together, Susan talks about a missing girl in Toronto, Cecilia. In 2003 the station approached the parents of the child to request an interview, the mother agreed but only if it could be conducted in Mandarin.

 

There was a producer on the team at the time that spoke Mandarin and they were able to broadcast an incredibly powerful message from the mother in her native tongue which was translated by the producer.

 

Susan describes this as a pivotal turning point at the radio station, ‘the authentic replication of the community comes from your team’. Not anybody could have conducted that interview - It was a story that connected the city.

 

‘We must be doing something right, last week the Metro Morning Show went number one for the 85th time’. This is no mean feat for a public broadcaster in Canada’s largest city where there are 60 stations to compete with.

 

Susan ended by saying what she truly believes ‘Dare to be more relevant and more meaningful – change.’