Showrunners of equality: promoting diversity on screen and behind the scenes

The purpose statement  

Diversity & inclusion is an integral part of Starlight Media’s corporate culture and sustainable development. As the biggest Ukrainian media group, we strive to ensure that this leadership does not leave anyone behind, that everyone can see their reflection in our stories. We want to create workspace, content, and partnerships that empower all voices and ideas without any limiting stereotypes and discrimination. 


Problem situation


We signed Women’s Empowerment Principles and started our way for gender equality in the summer of 2019. As a result of the first year’s efforts and activities, we implemented more than 30 projects dedicated to gender equality. We improved the company’s gender equality rate from 11% to 47% (* according to the WEPs Gender Gap Analysis Tool).


However, this rate did not reflect our aspirations and required intensive work on improvement. We also understood that discrimination is not limited to gender. There are still many underrepresented voices and people for whom barriers remain real. Starlight Media workplaces were inaccessible to people with disabilities, and the topic of protecting the LGBT + community was not included in our corporate policies and actions. We have provided some psychological assistance to employees but had no solutions for chronic mental illnesses or conditions that required long-term treatment.


The solution of the problem situation


We felt that we could do more – both as a business and an employer and as a media that reaches an audience of more than 33 million Ukrainians every month. In 2020, we developed a new annual plan to improve gender equality and launched an inclusion development project. 2021 was a moment of springboard to equality – Starlight Media became the first Ukrainian media company that created the diversity and inclusion strategy.


To implement the project of inclusive development and ensure the rights and opportunities of people with disabilities, StarLightMedia decided to:


  • Create an inclusion development manager position at the company.

  • Implement a four-level plan to improve inclusiveness, which includes: improving the technical accessibility of locations and workspaces; education and communication on inclusiveness for the development of corporate culture; inclusive recruitment and adaptation; inclusive cooperation.

  • Conduct an accessibility audit of all work locations and film studios.

  • Include anti-bias and inclusive communication education modules in the curriculum of the teams of the first pilot company of the group (it includes 11 business functions).

  • Develop and implement rules and educational support for inclusive recruitment and employment.


To improve the gender equality rate in our work and content, Starlight Media decided to:

  • Launch the format of employees resource groups to develop new projects that meet the needs of employees and receive feedback on the quality of existing gender equality programs and policies.

  • Implement an educational project about harassment and promote the corporate code of ethics rules on the prohibition of harassment.

  • Improve the corporate parenting support program by creating parent rooms and children’s areas at Starlight Media’s locations.

  • Set targets for the amount of material about gender equality each news edition seeks to create.

  • Create a campaign to counter gender stereotypes, involving TV stars and independent bloggers to expand the audience.

  • Expand partnerships to improve the gender sensitivity of our content.

  • Use the opportunities of our business influence to unite the resources of the media industry in promoting equality, fighting discrimination and violence.


To support LGBT + community rights, mental health, and the implementation of the Diversity and Inclusion Strategy:

  • Establish a sensitive and confidential procedure for dealing with discrimination, harassment, and violence complaints.

  • Implement the UN LGBT + Standard and make a corporate public commitment to support LGBT + rights.

  • Join Pride Month and increase the share of materials on LGBT + community rights on-air and on digital platforms.

  • Develop a corporate Well-being strategy that focuses on employees’ mental health and offers preventive actions and response systems to help under challenging cases.


Key results


  • According to the results of an independent international survey of the employer’s brand in Ukraine, Randstad Employer Brand Research 2021, Starlight Media is recognized as the best employer among media companies. 

  • Starlight Media led the rating of family-friendly companies, developed by UNFPA Ukraine and CSR Ukraine.

  • Starlight Media received the LGBT Friendly Media of the Year award from the KyivPride Award.

  • Staff turnover in 2020 decreased by two times compared to 2019  (from 20.6% to 10.9%).

  • The Starlight Media gender equality rate increased from 47% in 2020 to 72% in 2021 (according to the WEPs Gender Gap Analysis Tool).

  • In 2021, more than 130 tv-news on gender equality were created by Starlight Media news and more than 150 materials published by the group’s digital resources.

  • The STB TV channel’s digital campaign against gender stereotypes involved 28 celebrities and collected more than 7.5 million video views and 420 media mentions of the campaign and the stories of its heroes.

  • The number of corporate parental program users has exceeded 100. Fifteen of them are men who took additional corporate leave for dads. The total percentage of men among the users of all program services is 32%. The first father-employee went on paternity leave.

  • In partnership with the UN Women, Starlight Media implemented the world’s first MediaForShe Congress. MediaForShe Congress brought together 15 Ukrainian media and content producers to discuss the role of the media in promoting gender equality. During the MediaForShe Congress, CEOs of 1+1 media, Hromadske, and the film production company FILM.UA announced the signing of Women’s Empowerment Principles. Thus, as a result of the MediaForShe Congress, 46% of the Ukrainian television market are companies that have signed WEPs. 

  • 15% of the company’s female employees joined the first corporate conference supporting women’s leadership.  Fifty female employees are active participants in the first ERG company.

  • The group’s most important location is fully accessible to people with disabilities. Thus, the location has an electronic lift, ramp, accessible toilets, parking area for people with disabilities, improved accessibility of food areas and office space. The first, fully inclusive Starlight Media coworking was created. Already at the group’s second location, a similar project was launched, and an inclusive toilet and shower, inclusive entrance, and parking spaces for people with disabilities were created.

  • Starlight Media has released the first materials on national commercial television to protect the rights of LGBT + people and dedicated the topic of the main political talk show to the theme of the Pride March.

  • Together with UNFPA, a format of meetings of creators with experts on combating domestic violence was introduced. This format allowed to integrate hotlines and contacts of services that help victims into the group’s content and promote new covering domestic violence editorial rules. Through partnerships with L’oreal and UNFPA, the employees have joined the international Stand UP program to combat harassment in public places.

  • The motivation survey, which included all key team members, confirmed the significant impact of diversity & inclusion and sustainable development projects on employees’ motivation and engagement.

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