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New approach in public service

With better knowledge and interest in diversity and equal treatment, creativity grows. This leads to better programmes and reaches out to a larger audience. This is the background to the Zebra project on radio and television.


Aktiviteter i Zebraprojektet

The Zebra project will improve skills in equal treatment on radio and television. Ultimately this could lead to better programme offer.

- Nearly three years ago, Swedish Television, Swedish Radio, Educational Broadcasting and the Department of Journalism, Media and Communication at Stockholm University conducted a survey among their employees about diversity and discrimination. One third said they felt someone at their workplace had been discriminated against in recent years, says Zebra project manager, Lillemor Engholm Guy. Discrimination took place to different extents, and most of all employees felt discrimination was due to gender and age.

The result was the initiative for the ESF project Zebra. About 2,800 people work in the gigantic media buildings at the end of Karlavägen in Stockholm.

- Diversity is an important concept in the activities we organize in this project. It’s about not just seeing superficial aspects but also seeing the individual beneath the surface: her skills, dreams, goals and aspirations, says Lillemor.

Own values and professional role

The project concentrates to a large extent on managers and supervisors. They work on four-day courses with their own values, but also with their professional role as public servants. They are then given the task of directing this work with their personnel.

A web course was launched in February about the law on discrimination and on values, which all employees have access to.

The project also has special weeks when the focus is on diversity through lectures and half-day workshops.

Ideally all employees should participate in these lectures and workshops, from journalists to administrators and technicians, both permanent and temporary staff. The target is that about 1,650 people will have been involved in at least one activity. Participation has been lower than Lillemor expected, though.

- We’re halfway into the implementation period but we have only reached about 36% of the personnel, so we will have to catch up on the rest by December. I don’t think it is about lack of interest, rather that broadcasters are working under high pressure.

In early 2012 they will make a follow-up measurement, but the company’s own work climate measurements have shown that some departments have become better while others have not.

- It will be exciting to see whether there has been an improvement. It may well be that people have become more knowledgeable and so they see the problems more clearly than before, says Lillemor.

Diversity is the keyword

Then there are effects that are more difficult to measure. Lillemor thinks there is more discussion about diversity, that it is higher on the agenda now – especially when it comes to recruitment issues. The concept of diversity at SR, for example, has become a keyword for work climate activities in 2011.

They are also discussing how to spread their knowledge to all the companies since the project is only for Stockholm personnel, whereas SR and SVT are found throughout the country.

- The effects will hopefully be noticed even more in their range of programmes. That process may be a little slower because you can’t go in with external funds and steer programmes. Change is a consequence of the skills development among personnel.

More information

Projektbank at esf.se