“It isn’t enough to simply talk about equality, one must believe in it and it isn’t enough to simply believe in it. One must work at it.” – Meghan Markle, International Women’s Day 2015, United Nations

We’re proud to announce the launch of Saavn’s Diversity & Inclusion Council. Why now? As a leading media company, we often get buried in the daily grind and don’t have the resources or bandwidth to look up and address larger societal issues. However, in the spirit of Women’s History Month, we’ve made a concerted effort to introduce impactful changes within Saavn. We believe it’s important to share this with the company, as we are always a collective work in progress.

As we evaluated the current state of the global conversation about women’s voices and took a sharper look at our own company, we realized that gender parity and unconscious bias are significant and shared concerns amongst our workforce. On the heels of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, we decided to begin addressing these issues with priority and depth. The Diversity & Inclusion Council is in itself diverse and comprised of all genders. We’re addressing the gender gap in leadership roles, assessing and eliminating wage disparities across the company, understanding bias and microaggressions, and instilling an overall culture of inclusivity.

We first called upon resources outside of Saavn to offer mentorship to women, providing an unbiased perspective and fresh insights to the company as a whole. We were fortunate enough to connect with Ruby Marchand, an A&R at Warner Music for over 40 years, vice chair of the board of trustees at the Recording Academy, and an adjunct professor at NYU’s Music School. Ruby joined us in our offices to enlighten us on the state of the music industry and share her personal stories. Ruby drove home the fact that, at the end of the day women in the music industry want what all women want: a position of influence. A title or promotion shouldn’t be artificial — it must come with true ownership, weight, and leadership. This is what truly gives you a position of influence.

On International Women’s Day, we attended two events that gave us a glimpse into how our fellow NYC tech companies tackle similar issues. At the Women’s Leadership Summit hosted by GitHub, female executives shared their personal journeys about climbing the career ladder and the obstacles they faced along the way. All of the speakers stressed the importance of women having mentors, sponsors, and coaches in a professional setting.

At the IWD 2018 Panel hosted by NewsCred and Blue Apron, women at various career stages discussed the notion of ‘having it all’ and what it means to each of them. The consensus was clear: having it all is relative and looks nothing like the media’s definition of perfection. Rather, having it all is juggling the various facets of life and arriving at a place of balance and happiness.

The panelists also provided practical career advice: be intentional about choosing mentors; seize every opportunity to meet with new people; and accept that success inevitably includes daily struggles. They also dispensed key takeaways for men: be mindful about inclusivity, and become sponsors – not just mentors. While women should be empowered to advocate for themselves, men need to step up as allies. NewsCred’s CEO Shafqat Islam was a driving force of this male ownership, opening the evening with a powerful tone: “Make no mistake about it – when we talk about women’s rights and equality, we’re talking about human rights.” He went on to list the specific changes his team is implementing within his company.

We at Saavn came away from these events inspired to continue to take long-term actions. With support from our CEO Rishi Malhotra, we created a Diversity and Inclusion Council made up of men and women at Saavn. Along with the rest of our executive team, Rishi passionately supports these initiatives, insisting that empowering women in the workplace “should be something we do because it’s right, not because it’s fashionable. It should be a daily effort to be sustained long-term, not just for International Women’s Day.”

Our council meets weekly, ensuring that a focus on issues of concern for women and other marginalized people are not relegated to a holiday or International Women’s Day. Our initial goals include the following:

  • Eliminate wage gaps across the company
  • Recalibrate all teams to ensure female/male ratio is equal
  • Highlight female AO artists, who comprise 40% of current roster
  • Provide leadership opportunities to women
  • Revise job descriptions with inclusivity in mind
  • Actively recruit women for management positions
  • Promote women to managerial or executive roles

The path to gender parity is a long uphill road, but we’re excited to begin making a dent in these issues within our workplace. Everyone in the company is welcome to get involved; our door is always open. You’ll be seeing many more updates from Saavn’s Diversity & Inclusion Council, so stay tuned!

My best,

Hiba F. Irshad