Members report discrimination & anxieties

ANXIETY about how Brexit will affect EU nationals working in the freelance community is just one of the issues identified in a long-term survey examining equality in the sector. The London Freelance Branch equality officers launched the questionnaire earlier this year to define what equality means for journalists in the age of freelancing.

Responses so far have overwhelmingly identified two main areas in which members feel they have experienced discrimination: gender and age. Disability, race and sexuality have also been highlighted.

Almost 30 per cent of respondents revealed that gender affected their day-to-day work in some way, with one female freelance journalist reporting "a severe lack of women being promoted in my immediate workplace".

Another noted she had "experienced sexism in many places", with men being paid more and promoted more, and being patronising.

Although these are anecdotes, research has found that men in the media are paid on average 6.6 per cent more than women, while a City University survey of 700 British journalists found a significant pay gap in the news industry with nearly half of female journalists earning £2400 or less a month compared with a third of men.

The government's Gender Pay Gap report identifies part-time working around unpaid care as a contributor to the problem - a challenge reported in the LFB's survey.

"The high cost of childcare in London means that unless you are able to alter working patterns and hours, pay may not even cover the costs," explained one respondent. Indeed, almost 53 per cent stated they worked part-time, with 41 per cent working from home.

The issue of "sidelining" was raised by a freelance who considered age to have an effect, while others reported ideas "being dismissed", and a perception by editors of being "too old to need work".

Meanwhile, challenges when working for international organisations included homophobia and in-built workplace prejudice.

The survey has pointed out the continued need to tackle barriers to finding work, progressing, or getting a pay rise in the media industry, with lobbying government and industry bodies, liaising with legal experts, and developing support networks suggested as next steps for LFB.

You can still share your views and experiences by completing the survey: see the link below.