SVG Europe Women – Community as a cornerstone of industry

Last week we sent our very own Gry Synnøve to attend the SVG Europe Women Scotland_Connecting the Community_ event in Glasgow. Once a city with a reputation for the rougher side of life in Scotland, thirty years ago Glasgow was awarded the title ‘City of Culture’ – putting it alongside European landmarks such as Berlin and Amsterdam – and it is now a flourishing and vibrant city, and home to a number of broadcast specialists.

The event – as the title suggests – was about connecting the community, which is a vital reframing of a crucial issue not only in the broadcast industry, but across almost every field of commercial endeavour.

People in general recognise themselves as forming parts of units that extend in concentric (and often overlapping) circles outside of them; family, friends, neighbours, town, nation. Football team, Tesla drivers, Coke or Pepsi drinkers… Setting aside personal, social connections and focusing only on business ones though, we can see that in a work environment these concentric circles are more narrowly and strictly drawn: generally starting with your team or department, then your company as a whole, followed by your direct market and finally something nebulously referred to as ‘the industry’.

Reframing industry as Community

What’s interesting particularly is that under a traditional model, anything outside of those two immediate circles is considered a ‘competitor’ rather than a member of a wider community. Which is funny, because community is roughly defined as a set of people with common interests, beliefs, attitudes or characteristics in common – potentially united by a shared goal. It is an industry by any other name.

But the difference is, communities can lean on each other for support, advice, collaboration and growth. Which is why it’s really important that in the broadcast industry, we start to view others in our industry as a part of our community, not at-arms-length competitors (an idea we’ve expounded a number of times before). Technologically, financially, personally, when we engage in collaborative and not merely competitive action, we all benefit.

And the SVG event did a brilliant job of highlighting exactly why community matters to this idea. The world is ever more challenging, career paths are less stable and defined than they once were, and standards and expectations fluctuate more rapidly. Individuals – especially younger entrants into the field – need both the logistical and psychological support that communities bring; places they can go to share questions, unload burdens, understand conventions, brainstorm solutions and feel that they are not alone in their uncertainties and struggles. Mentorship, guidance, and support are all key dimensions of an effective community.

Finding common experience in communities

As the SVG Europe Women Scotland showed, whilst it’s important to see the industry as-a-whole as a place of community, there can be benefit in bringing together smaller sub-groups within that, shared by particular characteristics which impact their experience in the wider community space. Thus, this most recent Glasgow event – held at the atmospheric Poetry Club – focused on the community of women in broadcast and production, and the SVG Europe event provided a positive and uplifting space in which to discuss the challenges facing women particularly, and feel supported by the calls-to-action which were voiced from veteran community members. The challenges facing freelancers and the Scottish market were also voiced – again showing the importance of being able to unite with various ‘sub-communities’ who share experiences and challenges. In providing focused support for the interests of specific sub-communities – be that related to geography, race, gender or specialism – we encourage and benefit from greater diversity within the industry as a whole.

Providing support from within

Of course, these core components of community are all things we make efforts to foster in the Bridge offices. Mentorship, support and an open environment for guidance and growth are key aspects of our work culture. But just as there are some issues you talk about with your friends rather than your family, we recognise that external support structures are just as important. This is exactly what SVG Europe is providing with these kind of events, and we are incredibly grateful to them for it.

Written by Fiorenza Mella and Jess McMurray