Australian Media’s Pro Bono Work for ACON Pride in Diversity Leaderboard Scheme – Part 2 – SBS

See 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 part 1 I looked at our ABC. In this 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.

Like ABC, SBS also lends it’s talent in exchange for points

In the 2021 AWEI SBS scored 185 out of 200 points, making it a gold employer. It is also a silver sponsor by dint of providing pro bono media services to Pride in Diversity. Services such as lending out Riccardo Goncalves to MC the 2020 Australian LGBTQ Awards. Yes, that’s the Pride in Diversity AWEI award ceremony.

Riccardo Goncalves to MC the 2020 Australian LGBTQ Awards (Q40 – 2 points)

This is in addition to their other contra deals such as pre-paying to advertise ACON for the Honour Awards.

Contra deals – also Q40

SBS Televised the Pride in Diversity LGBTQ Inclusion Awards on SBS World News

The story is on their website here.

SBS World News presenter Darren Mara introducing the story (Q43 -1 point)

Corporate Heroes Get Into The Action

SBS lends out executive-level staff to speak at Pride in Diversity events. This benefits SBS by netting them up to 2 AWEI points. Although it costs them in time and lost productivity for their senior staff.

It benefits Pride in Diversity by having the very public support of the SBS. They don’t even need to pay a speaker’s fee.

Director of Sport, Ken Shipp, spoke at the Pride in Sport Awards in October 2020 (Q34 – 2 points)

When the Corporate Heroes Aren’t Good Enough

Pride in Diversity tries to get the maximum cultural capital out of executive appearances. It does this by demanding that the CEO themselves speak at events promoting LGBTQ inclusion.

SBS sent a Director of Indigenous content to speak, but was NOT granted the 2 points for this question. PID notes the reason “Not CEO/equivalent“.

SBS Director of Indigenous Content and the Head of the NITV Business Tanya Denning Orman spoke at the Pride in Practice Conference in 2020 (Q36 – 0 out of 2 points)

Pride in Diversity was happy to accept Orman’s time, to bill her as a panellist, and charge people who registered to hear her speak. However they didn’t bother advising SBS that she wasn’t of high enough rank to gain their points.

Additional Work – Special Episodes

It’s one thing to lend out a director of programming for an afternoon, it’s another to redirect the whole cast and crew of a TV show to score 1 point on the AWEI index.

From Q43, here is SBS’s list of “additional” 1-pointer activities for 2021.

SBS – AWEI Submission 2021 – Q43 – Additional Work
ActivityMy comments
MG Parade ParticipationStaff built their own float – 1 point!
Professor Jane Ussher TalkShe talked about “about her research into the lived experience of sexual violence among trans women of colour in Australia.” 1 point!
SBS Pride Guide“The Pride Guide is a resource, produced by SBS, to support anyone creating, producing or working with LGBTIQ+ content. It has been designed to enable fair, respectful and inclusive representation.”
1 point for making this guide public (they got 1 point for creating it the previous year)
Australian LGBTQ Inclusion Awards on National BroadcastSBS World News ensured to cover the awards” – Presenter Darren Mara introduced the segment – The story is on their website here.
“We ensured key members of our staff, Executive and Inclusion Council were present at the Award Ceremony too.” – this means that awards tickets were purchased.

1 point to purchase a fully produced news story
ACON Covid-19 LGBTQ Impact Panel

ACON Living Trans Panel
They promoted 2 ACON events to Pride group members.
SBS Pride & Allies undertaking divisional road-showsTo continue to promote our Pride & Allies mission, Pride & Allies Co-Chairs frequently presented at SBS Staff Divisional meetings.
Cook for
This didn’t receive a point.
project into
Gay and Thai
gay men.
“Our Sales and Research team engaged with ACON directly on research into key communities and how they can best be reached based on the content they consume. ACON was able to utilise SBS expertise through our Research and Marketing teams. Our Research team consulted with the Pride & Allies Committee along this process.”

“ACON has commissioned SBS to conduct some research”. It isn’t clear whether this was paid for, but the context suggests it was a freebie.

Tim Freiszmuth (Custom Research Manager – Audience Data & Insights) “conducted several face-to-face interviews)” and is now designing a quantitative survey to reach gay Thai audiences.
Insight – ‘Coming out with faith’ episode“SBS current affairs program “Insight” ran an episode in February 2020 focused entirely on the intersection between sexuality and faith. What
makes this episode all the more special to our Pride Committee is that the episode was directly inspired by an internal staff-only panel we held in
2019 for Wear It Purple Day”

“This panel was such a success
internally, that it inspired not only our audience but also the Executive Producer of Insight Ross Scheeper’s to spend the next 6 months researching
this moving episode of Insight before airing it nationally on SBS Television in 2020.”

An entire show – 1 point.
Mardi Gras Federation Square Partnership & Screening“SBS Pride & Allies driven initiative was the pitching to and liaison with Federation Square to have the live SBS Parade broadcast aired live
on the big screen outside Federation Square.”

Priceless free promotion for Mardi Gras. 1 point.
Pride & Allies VideoSBS created a “pride and allies reel” which is played “in all our internal divisional roadshows and also during our employee inductions.”

1 point.
Mardi Gras Broadcast – Sales Presentation“Our Executive Sponsor of Pride and Allies Mandi Wicks maintained attendance at PID Executive Ally Forums in 2020; as per evidence from her diary below.”
Inclusion Council staff update videosCo-chair of Pride & Allies Committee provides a video meeting summary of their meeting – which is the broadcast to all staff.

This is a good example of how getting involved with Pride can raise a person’s profile in the organisation.
Mardi Gras
Broadcast –
“Our national Sales team was in market selling advertising to clients around Australia around our Mardi Gras broadcast. Please see attached file
“S10 – 2020 Mardi Gras Sales Deck” for the presentation that our Sales team took to market, which was created by Pride & Allies Co-Chair”

1 point – the sales team created sales collateral and spruiked Mardi Gras
Q43 – the 1 point activities

SBS profits from the gender gospel

Question 8 of the AWEI is about engaging with suppliers, vendors and business contacts:

We can show evidence of promoting our commitment to LGBTQ inclusion in up to two of the following areas:
• pitching for business or contracts
• engaging with potential clients/customers
• applying for funding
• engaging with strategic partners or key external stakeholders

Q8, AWEI 2021

In response, SBS have produced their own (Pride in Diversity-approved) LGBTIQ+ training course (with the paid assistance of Pride in Diversity consultants). This course is available on the market.

Pride in Diversity has successfully co-opted the resources of our government-funded media to spread it’s message. SBS received their 4-point reward.

Diversity, but only a little bit

This is a good point to note that the training course advertises the “benefits of diversity” but it only deals with limited diversity among sexual behaviours and gender identities. These are arguably best left out of the workplace in any case – having sex at work is still frowned upon. Diversity of ability, cultural background, languages spoken, neurotypical status – these are not covered by “Pride in Diversity” or the LGBTIQ+.


There’s a certain sinking feeling to be had with the realisation that both ABC and SBS have such deep links to ACON/Pride in Diversity. ACON has a clear agenda to promote transgender inclusion at the expense of women’s rights.

Our lefty media outlets can’t be trusted to report the truth on how transgenderism harms women. Not when they are directly being advised by ACON.

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.

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 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.


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.