Visibility of women on the rise in Ringier media: biggest gains in business media

Using a semantic algorithm, the EqualVoice factor measures the proportion of women in all online articles in Blick, Cash, Bilanz, Handelszeitung, Schweizer Illustrierte, Beobachter and GaultMillau on a daily basis. The results in 2021 show that especially the business media of Ringier Axel Springer Schweiz have reported on women significantly more than in the previous year. In the four-year evaluation period, the EqualVoice factor Body Scores for Bilanz and Handelszeitung each rose by more than 10 percentage points, followed by Beobachter, which saw an 8.6 percentage point rise.

In 2015, the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) found that 75% of media reports in Switzerland were about men, and the figure globally was even higher at 82%. This result provided the impetus for the launch of the EqualVoice initiative from Ringier. In its capacity as an international media corporation, since the end of 2019 the Ringier Group has used its journalistic and technological influence to advocate gender equality. The aim is to increase the visibility of women in the media and give women and men an equal voice.

The latest figures from the GMMP, released in September 2021, show a three percentage point increase in the share of women in Swiss media coverage to 28%. Based on an annual survey of the proportion of women in reporting, the study ranks Blick.ch at the top, with the highest share among Swiss media at 49%. 

In contrast to the GMMP survey, the Ringier method, the EqualVoice factor developed in-house, is based on a daily analysis of a semantic algorithm. The approach generates two indicators: the Teaser Score, which measures the visibility of women in images, headlines and titles, and the Body Score, which measures how often women and men are mentioned in articles. The online content of Blick, Beobachter, Bilanz, Cash, GaultMillau, Handelszeitung and Schweizer Illustrierte is surveyed. Figures from 2018 onwards are available for most titles, enabling developments to be viewed over time. Starting in 2022, the EqualVoice factor results will be published on a half-yearly basis.

Annabella Bassler, CFO of Ringier and initiator of the EqualVoice Initiative: «EqualVoice is actively practised in our editorial offices. I’m pleased that women have become significantly more visible in the articles of our publications since the introduction of the EqualVoice factor. We have achieved this by raising awareness of the topic of the visibility of women in the media. Each editorial team decides how it wants to go about achieving equality between women and men in its journalistic practices. I strongly believe that instituting a quota would not have achieved the level of acceptance that EqualVoice has in our company today.» 

Gathered on a daily basis in the period from January to September 2021, the EqualVoice factor figures show that Schweizer Illustrierte, with a Teaser Score of 60.9 percent and a Body Score of 55.6 percent, and Beobachter, with Teaser and Body Scores of 44.5 and 46.2 percent respectively, report on women and men almost equally.

The daily news-driven reporting in Blick.ch has a direct impact on its EqualVoice factor. For example, reporting on the men’s European Football Championship in summer 2021 had a direct impact on the EqualVoice factor in that time period. However, the subsequent Olympic games resulted in the reporting in the sports segment becoming more balanced again.

Media brands that are less focused on daily news enjoy greater scope in their ability to achieve greater balance in their reporting and were accordingly able to raise their scores more substantially. The three business magazines published by Ringier Axel Springer Schweiz – CashBilanz and Handelszeitung – are the EqualVoice factor leaders again in 2021, as they were the year before. With a 9.0 percentage point gain in the Teaser Score, Cash showed the biggest increase over 2020. In the Body Score ranking, Bilanz came out on top with a 4.3 percentage point gain.

Michael Moersch, Chief Digital Officer and Director of Business Media at Ringier Axel Springer Schweiz: «As the leading business media in Switzerland, we want to reflect the changes in the industry even more effectively and feature even more diverse reporting. The editorial offices of CashBilanz and Handelszeitung have endeavoured to use more inclusive language since the start of the EqualVoice initiative. In their planning, the editorial teams place great importance on the selection of topics, the protagonists and the visual design of the articles. Through their efforts, CashBilanz and Handelszeitung want to encourage women to raise their voices publicly. Women should take the lead as role models for other women.» 

Body Score trajectory:
In 2021, Bilanz and Cash have once again increased the share of women in their articles over the preceding year.

The Body Score indicates how often women and men are mentioned in an article. The media brands that were able to increase their Body Score over the previous year include Bilanz (+4.3 percentage points), Cash (+3.4), Handelszeitung (+2.2) and Beobachter (+0.5). Schweizer Illustrierte (-0.6), GaultMillau (-0.2) and Blick (-0.2) posted lower Body Scores than in 2020.

Teaser Score trajectory:

The biggest year-on-year gains in the share of women in headlines, titles and visual design were achieved by Cash and GaultMillau.

The Teaser Score evaluates the visibility of women in images, headlines and titles. Cash (+9.0 percentage points) and GaultMillau (+1.2) improved their figures in 2021. Bilanz remained at the previous year’s level. Beobachter (-3.5), Schweizer Illustrierte (-1.9), Blick (-0.4) and Handelszeitung (-0.2) all had slightly lower Teaser Scores than in 2020.

Quantitative measurement – qualitative, publication-specific measures

Going beyond quantitative measurement, many editorial offices have taken individual measures and initiated more extensive studies. An internal analysis at Beobachter revealed a gender imbalance in certain sections, Schweizer Illustrierte focused on perceived details in language and images, and compiled an internal editorial guide. All editorial offices have created project teams responsible for integrating EqualVoice into daily work. At Blick, EqualVoice is regularly taken into account in feedback sessions.

EqualVoice factor: Body Score detailed view

EqualVoice factor: Teaser Score detailed view

Ringier AG, Corporate Communications

About EqualVoice

The initiative was launched by CFO Annabella Bassler in November 2019, and is chaired by publisher Michael Ringier and CEO Marc Walder. Its aim is to advocate gender equality and improve the visibility of women in the media. The central element of the initiative is an indicator known as the EqualVoice factor. Further projects related to EqualVoice include the Female Experts List, Ringier’s internal tool for finding female experts, the EqualPyx photo challenge, aimed at generating images with more diversity, and the female experts workshop ‘Get Ready – Go Forward’, which supports women in making the most of their expertise. An international expansion of the EqualVoice factor to include other media brands is planned for the near future.

Prestigious EqualVoice Advisory Board

The following renowned personalities have been recruited to the Advisory Board since the launch of EqualVoice: David Allemann (CEO and co-founder of On), Pascale Baeriswyl (diplomat and Head of the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations), Yann Borgstedt (entrepreneur and founder of the Womanity Foundation), Nicole Burth (Head of Communication Services at Swiss Post), Regula Bührer Fecker (advertising executive and co-founder of Rod Kommunikation), Ingrid Deltenre (media manager), Tanja Grandits («Chef of the Year 2020»), Dr Sabine Keller-Busse (President Personal and Corporate Banking at UBS and President UBS Switzerland), Carolina Müller-Möhl (President of the Müller-Möhl Foundation), Simona Scarpaleggia (Global CEO of EDGE Strategy), Franziska Tschudi Sauber (CEO of Weidmann Holding AG) Christiane zu Salm (media entrepreneur and advisor) and Petra Ehmann (Global Lead for Product Partnerships of Innovation Technology Augmented Reality at Google Switzerland).

About Ringier

Ringier AG is an innovative, digitalised and diversified Swiss media company operating in Europe, Asia and Africa. Its portfolio includes around 110 subsidiaries in the print, digital media, radio, ticketing, entertainment and e-commerce sectors and leading online marketplaces for cars, property and jobs. As a venture capital provider, Ringier supports innovative digital start-ups. Ringier, a family company founded in 1833 as a publishing house and printing plant, has invested consistently in digitalisation and global expansion in recent years. In 2020, the company’s some 6.800 employees, operating in 18 different countries, generated revenues of 953.7 million CHF. Today, 69 per cent of its operating profit already comes from digital, where Ringier is a leader among European media companies. Ringier’s core values are independence, freedom of expression and a pioneering spirit.