Conference 2017

Keep a file, and perhaps someday it will keep you

By Eliza Reilly and Niamh Sullivan

The national average gender pay gap stands at 16 per cent. In the media industry, it’s 23 per cent. During the ‘Future Proofing Your Career’ panel at the 2017 national Women in Media Conference, Sageco career transition specialist Alison Monroe’s statistics shocked the audience.

Monroe suggested to her fellow panellists, ABC News Breakfast presenter Virginia Trioli and Fairfax business journalist Nassim Khadem, that the media was far behind other industries in achieving pay parity.

“A graduate female today will start about $5000 behind a male counterpart and she will retire with half the superannuation of her male counterparts,” Monroe said.

Monroe advised the audience to know their worth when asking for a pay rise and said never disclose a prior salary to a new employer to avoid losing negotiating power.

Trioli told the audience of her ingenious ‘save your arse’ file, which she draws upon when asking for pay rises.

“It’s basically a file of rock-solid evidence that allows me to argue that I have added value, increased readership and have been useful to other staff,” Trioli said.

Business journalist Nassim Khadem. Photo: Tim Marsden.

Khadem suggested that to future-proof their careers, journalists should upskill in different media platforms and find a niche.

“You can future-proof across multiple industries as well,” she said.

Khadem left journalism, bought a house, then took a $50,000 pay cut to return to the media.

“You can dip out and return,” she said.

Trioli said that upskilling yourself in different media formats was vital to future proofing for journalists.

“I moved on when I started to become too comfortable and scared myself,” she said.

Early in her career at The Age, Trioli approached her boss about moving out of her comfort zone as a colour writer and reporting on business and finance matters.

He initially refused but after consistent requests he conceded.

“I won a Walkley in business reporting!” she quipped.

Monroe agreed that future proofing was about taking responsibility for yourself and not waiting for someone to do it for you.

“Don’t wait for someone to come and knock on your door,” she said.

The panel was just one of a series in the two-day 2017 Women in Media conference attended by about 250 delegates from all facets of the media and communications industries, who travelled from across Australia to attend.

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