Australian Media’s Pro Bono Work for ACON Pride in Diversity Leaderboard Scheme – Part 1 – ABC

ACON’s Pride in Diversity lists only a few “media” members.

  • 10 ViacomCBS (Channel 10)
  • Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)
  • Bloomberg L.P.
  • Initiative Media
  • SBS

In this part 1 I will talk about ABC. In part 2 I will look closely at how SBS uses talent to make pro bono or in kind contributions to the Pride in Diversity mission in exchange for AWEI points.


The AWEI

The Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI) is a voluntary leaderboard scheme run by Pride in Diversity. It is open to all organisations in Australia. The template is 45 pages long. Organisations answer detailed questions and submit their answers for marking. They receive a ranking score out of 200. Every few years the index changes to make it harder to get a high score.

Pro bono work, contra deals and a stable of talent

There are several questions in the AWEI that demand financial contributions or pro bono support of LGBTQ charities. Yes, Pride and Diversity qualifies as a charity despite also taking in $6600 membership fees and additional revenue for training sessions that are mandatory under the AWEI.

ABC’s Pro Bono Work

This post only deals with a small number of examples, and only where talent and cultural capital have been deployed to win AWEI points.

Both SBS and ABC have a stable of media talent they can lend out to events and score points. Such as that time ABC’s Jeremy Fernandez hosted a session at Pride in Practice conference in 2020 (page 20). This netted them 2 points.

I wonder how much money his time cost the taxpayer?

2 points awarded for Jeremy Fernandez hosting a CEO panel event.
ABC’s redacted submission.

The same conference hosted another session prepared by the ABC. How many person-hours were spent trawling the archives at taxpayer expense? Note the reference to First Day an ABC production glamourising transgender children.

This presentation was worth 1 point under additional work.

Additionally, they paid for 4 conference tickets to send their staff members (2 points). This is recommended in Questions 30 and 32 specifically.

Q30 demands development opportunities for LGBTQ employees and Q32 demands that LGBTQ staff attend external conferences.

ABC sent transwoman Julie Peters to speak at a Pride in Diversity Sapphire (womens) event (1 point). ABC has recently run a story (collection of stories across channels) on Julie Peters. Let’s see if these come up in the next round of AWEI submissions.

Corporate Heroes

Manda Hatter, the Head of Operations, spoke at Big Stays In conference (1 point). She attended a Diversity Council of Australia event Out at Work: Inclusion at Work for LGBTIQ+ Talent (1 of 4 events offered for a 2 point question). She also volunteered on the panel of Out50 – a Deloitte publication dedicated to LGBTI+ leadership (1 point). ABC’s Mon Schafter (they/them) gets a profile in the issue.

Manda Hatter’s public profile as a high-powered “dyke on bike” operations manager lends credibility to the ABC’s claims of LGBTQ solidarity. It certainly helps her profile to be able to spruik her personality at events – and Pride in Diversity gets incredible social cache from platforming Manda’s public performances.

Mardi Gras

Is this newsworthy, or is this advertising? It’s a fine line.

Newsworthy? Advertising money could not buy

ABC staff marching in the Mardi Gras for the first time was worth 1 point. Now in 2022, the ABC hosted and relentlessly promoted the Mardi Gras which will hopefully be worth more for them.

Not all roses

Unfortunately for them, host Mon Schafter “dead-named” or “misgendered” Elliot Page and caused members of activist 272k-member strong Facebook bully group LGBTI Rights Australia to have a little fit.

ABC should be aware that negative media attention can attract a 25 point penalty in the AWEI!

Where talent fails to get the points

ABC failed to get the 2 points for having Ita Buttrose and David Anderson (their MD) marching in the Mardi Gras. In the submission document, ABC gushes

ABC Chair Ita Buttrose and Managing Director David Anderson both played an exceptionally strong leadership role for 2020 which is demonstrated here as they both are seen about to head to the 2020 Mardi Gras parade float.

The AWEI response is terse: “Marching in MG isn’t evidence of CEO speaking at events”

Time and effort

Think of the effort, time, lost productivity that goes into organising attendance at these 1 pointer events. The ABC’s score in 2021 was 177. That gives you an idea of the scale of effort they go to on an annual basis.

Influence

There’s a quote from Andrew Breitbart that seems apt – “Politics is downstream of culture”.

What we are seeing here is an attempt to influence the company culture at an employer. It just happens to the national broadcaster, the ABC, bought and paid for by the taxpayer. Trusted by every Aussie as a companion to morning coffee and background radio through our workdays.

Politics is downstream of culture

Andrew Breitbart

The culture matters. The leaders at ABC are modelling behaviour they expect to see replicated by ABC employees: journalists, designers, publishers, broadcasters and more. Those leaders are performing inclusion – but are they doing inclusion?

This leaks into our everyday politics. Recently I counted the number of articles ABC published with the subject matter “transgender” – 35 within a 7 day period. All rabidly pro-trans. None taking into account alternative viewpoints. When the ABC leaders model transgender inclusion at all costs, this attitude filters down to staff. It then spreads out into the culture at large, not with a ripple, but with the force of a bomb.

How can women advocate for their rights when the friendly “lefty” state-sponsored media has already decided that the word “woman” is a bigoted dog whistle? They think we can’t. They are wrong.

Sources of information:

ABC and SBS submissions to the 2021 AWEI scheme were obtained under FOI and are freely available for you to download.

Please get in touch confidentially via twitter or email if you’d like to discuss these or similar documents.

ACON’s Relationship Manager Advises ABC on How to Define “Family” (and Promote Trans Narratives for Points)

The Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI) is a voluntary leaderboard scheme run by ACON’s Pride in Diversity. It is open to all organisations in Australia. The template is 45 pages long. Organisations answer detailed questions and submit their answers for marking. They receive a ranking score out of 200.

The ABC’s 2021 AWEI score was 177 out of 200 and they were ranked as a gold tier employer.

Managing the Relationship

This this an accident? No, Pride in Diversity employ a number of relationship managers to assist organisations to complete the AWEI and participate in Pride in Diversity activities.

Chris Nelson is one such person.

Why is the ABC relying on a lobby group to define “family”?

Chris is available for advice and questions. Such as helping ABC grapple with interpretation of the word family. This email was sent by an ABC staffer to Chris. Note the definition of family explicitly disregards gender.

Source: FOI – https://ladykitkowalski.files.wordpress.com/2022/03/document-7.pdf

Chris responds helpfully with an attachment holding this definition which again explicitly disregards gender gender:

An immediate family member is a:
Spouse or former spouse (regardless of gender)
De facto partner or former de facto partner (regardless of gender)
Child
Parent
Grandparent
Grandchild
Sibling
Spouse or de facto partner’s child, parent, grandchild, grandparent or sibling
This definition includes step-relations and adoptive relations.
A household member is any person who lives with the employee.

FOI – https://ladykitkowalski.files.wordpress.com/2022/03/document-6.1.pdf

Where did Chris obtain his definition and how is it more correct than any other? It doesn’t include in-laws, even if living in the same house. Or people one is close to on their life’s journey – “you’re like family” or “we’re sisters”.

Helpful hints

Some other examples of Chris Nelson, on behalf of Pride in Diversity, influencing the programming and content produced by the ABC.

“This is AWEI worthy”

Please note that through all the politess, he totally MISGENDERS Ed Ayres by calling her “her”.

“There are AWEI points in it too”

This gamifies the adding of suicide helplines to the bottom of every story. It is not difficult to imagine a future where every slightly upsetting story carries mental health warnings and impressionable young people begin to associate these dire warnings with feeling slightly challenged by media content.

“it would be good to use this as extra work in the AWEI. It is normalising trans experience”

Note importing the language: “affirmed his gender”.

What about the stories of women who regretted medical transition?

There is no praise for journalistic integrity, for tough investigation or unbiased reports. Chris praises the feel-good stories, and grooms ABC to further promote these. He actively instructs ABC to “normalise” taking drugs to alter your body and lying about your sex.

Proof it works?

Have you checked out ABCQueer lately? Full of feel-good stories about affirming gender, new buzzwords and new interpretations of old words such as “woman”.

Sources of information:

ABC submission to the 2021 AWEI scheme was obtained under FOI and are freely available for you to download.

Please get in touch confidentially via twitter or email if you’d like to discuss these or similar documents.