In honor of International Women’s Day this year, we convened a panel of women with key roles within the X2X Media Group to ask them about their experience in the media and entertainment industry from the perspective of women. We touch upon industry idols who have inspired our panel, the challenges women face on a day-to-day basis, and what these women hope to see happen in the future for females in industry.
On the panel were Hannah Fillery; PIX Client Success Manager, Kellie Hiatt, CODEX Business Development Manager; Adina Singer, Director of Finance & Administration; and Molly Bausher, Director, Product Strategy.
Is there a woman you have crossed paths within your life that has made a lasting impact, changing the way you carry yourself today?
Hannah: I have been fortunate enough to work with inspiring women in a number of my roles. Many of these women have championed values that I have adopted and taken with me throughout my career. One of these women, Susan Mather (Line Producer, BBC) inspired me with her professionalism and willingness to help others in their career journeys. As a runner at the very beginning of my career, the support and guidance she showed has instilled in me a sense of duty to help and guide others in their journey.
Kellie: I can’t think of one woman in particular but rather a number of women throughout my life and career who have made an impact. Watching women I admired juggling careers and raising families. Watching them move up the corporate ladder in some largely male dominated industries helped me see that it was indeed possible. One manager in particular at a successful software company I worked for had mostly female sales reps back in a time when most of these jobs were held by males.
Adina: My supervisor at my first post-college job as an administrative assistant was an amazing mentor. She had worked at large insurance companies for years but had decided to change her focus and became the Executive Director for a social-justice oriented Unitarian congregation. I benefited from her experiences, and she was a great example for me in how to be direct and efficient while also being compassionate and making a difference for others. The fact that she was queer woman like me made watching her raise a family while leading an organization very powerful!
Molly: I had the privilege of playing out my childhood dream of becoming a collegiate athlete, honored to play for one of the best in the game. I knew I was in elite company, but what I wasn't yet aware of was the immeasurable impact my Head Coach, Carol Hutchins, would have on my life. An impact felt each day through my adult years. There is a special power behind those that can lead you to a place you never knew you had the strength or ability to reach. When one person can expose the beauty of humility, of vulnerability, all while showcasing a higher standard that is the only acceptable model, you can't help but see the world and yourself in it differently. I strive to carry her impact forward, empowering others to feel that same change of perspective, empowered and alive.
In your role, what are ways you aim to empower the growing diversity of voices and representation in discussion forums and/or decision-making meetings?
Hannah: I believe everyone should be given an equal opportunity to speak, and also the confidence to do so. Having a diverse work force is the first step, the second step is providing a level playing field for all. Giving everyone the opportunity to participate, develop their ideas, and give their opinions in an environment that not only encourages growth, but nurtures it. Validating others worth through respect and collaboration is key.
Kellie: I have been involved in so many meetings over the years that I have been the only female in the room. I have always tried to set the best example. Show that women are strong, smart and have ideas that should be heard. I have always been willing to help pass on my knowledge to anyone wanting to learn more.
Adina: As the Director of Finance, I always aim to cultivate a sense of empowerment for team members at every level, welcoming ideas and being transparent about any issues that arise. Personally, it is important to remember that having team members who don’t think or work the same way helps create a diverse team. I know I am more outspoken, so make sure challenge myself to make room and/or be an advocate to others for people who I know have great ideas but need more time or space to express them. Additionally, healthy disagreement and direct resolution of issues is the best way to make sure that people know they can speak up.
Molly: Heading the Product Strategy group has several advantages, one of which being the consistent interaction with various team members of different departments. Each conversation carries unique perspectives that provide a diverse representation of voices when approaching our product direction. My firm belief is that each perspective is deserving of a listening ear, with the opportunity to be heard. It is the only way we empower our unity and ability to grow with effective scale. Ultimately, we can bring a solution to the market that provides value to all rather than a select few.
The M&E industry has arrived at an intersection with the high-tech sector rather abruptly over the last 5 years. How do you see the industry changing to reflect a more inclusive and transparent operating model much like the high-tech sector has reflected and led over the last several years?
Hannah: I’m encouraged by the growing awareness companies have for the need to change, but there is still a long way to go. Much of the recent change I have seen has been reactive, and I’d like to see more proactive change, with media companies challenging the industry standard and being bolder in their approaches in tackling issues such as gender equality and equal rights.
Kellie: Having been in the M&E industry for the better part of 20 years I have seen lots of change, but I still think there is a lot of improvement to be had for women in this industry. I am seeing much more discussion about how to make sure companies are more inclusive and have seen progress with more women involved in the entire M&E industry process.
Adina: Technology helps to demystify process and connects people, which allows the M&E industry to be more accessible. Accessibility is key to inclusion, so I am excited about a future where historical barriers to can more easily overcome to give a platform to those who might not have been able to have one previously.
Molly: I came to X2X from the high-tech sector, with great excitement for the innovative advancements in M&E, even happening as we speak. From my viewpoint, I see growing in-roads for female leaders, female executives, female directors, female producers, and arguably most important female stories being told honestly on-screen. Representation of women in leadership roles is the first step to bringing the stories of women to light, to the fore-front, for all to consume in honesty.
Is there a motto that you live by daily you’d share with other women of the industry, in hopes they embody it with the same pride you hold?
Hannah: Know your worth. No-one should feel undervalued in their role, and it’s important to challenge it if you do.
Kellie: Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it.
Adina: Be gentle with yourself, you’ve got this!
Molly: “Nevertheless, she persisted”
Never quit on yourself. Keep pushing boundaries, doors will open, answers will be found. There is a key characteristic I stand by that I learned from a former colleague and current mentor, always remain curious. Both professionally and personally. It is one of the greatest powers you can possess for both yourself and the company you keep. Never stop asking, “Why?”
How do you hope to see X2X continue making an impact in gender inclusivity and equality across the organization, along with the industry at large?
Hannah: Hiring and promoting women into leadership roles, eradication of the gender pay gap, and supporting flexible working. For the industry to be more equal, the negative connotations of working flexibly need to be removed, along with the inequality in promotion and pay for those who do work in this way. Encouraging flexible working (whether that be altering the normal 9-5 hours or working outside the office) would unlock a wealth of talent who are currently limited in the roles they are considered for or offered. This would help pave the way for an equal workforce that the industry says it strives for.
Kellie: I think X2X has done very well with including woman in all roles within the company. It has been wonderful to see the collaboration between the women. My managers at X2X both male and female have always been very supportive and inclusive. I hope to continue to see more woman behind the camera, as members of the camera crew and as employees at companies that are continuing to drive the technology used by the M&E Industry.
Adina: I think women, transgender, and non-binary creative voices are gaining traction in the industry in a more visible way, and that is opening doors for others in the future. Similarly, I hope that X2X continues its longtime support of women in film and tech by building on the steps it has already taken to support inclusive hiring practices in a more visible way. A great step has been the creation of the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion team, which provides various spaces for people to learn about racial, gender, and other equality issues. It shows that we as a company are investing in creating a welcoming work environment for people of all genders.
Molly: I carry great pride being part of the X2X family, as we as a business continue to hire women in male dominated fields. I think we can only benefit from a more balanced and inclusive approach to representation within teams and departments. Ideally, as we empower more female leaders we can continue to move forward with a balanced approach.
What are ways you keep connected to the challenges women continue to face in the media industry, and efforts to take active participation in impacting lasting change?
Hannah: Attending talks hosted by organisations that support women in the M&E industry is a great way to keep connected. A few organisations I’d recommend are Rise who support gender diversity in broadcast & entertainment tech within the UK, also WiTH whom have a great mentorship program. I also follow Anna Whitehouse who campaigns for flexible working for all (#flexappeal).
Kellie: Shortly before Covid halted many events I was lucky enough to host some of the Women in Media members for a presentation on the Codex workflow. It was so wonderful to have that many women in the same room as well as some of the women from X2X involved. I hope to do more of this in the future to help with training and mentoring.
Adina: I always try to thoughtfully amplify marginalized voices on social media and talk with friends of all genders in the industry about their experiences. Building support networks of people who have a common vision for a better future long-term can help when things may seem hard right now.
Molly: I seriously appreciate remaining routinely connected to the women of the X2X family, all over the globe. Many of which carry different responsibilities and relationships with the industry. I hope to see us women of X2X become more connected with the Women of Film, women of the industry, in hopes we can keep connected to the advancements women are making to shift this space and grow reflectively as a company.