Ruth Ann Harnisch, Founder & President

Here’s where I sound off! Whether I’m sharing fresh insights or channeling
righteous rage, this is the place I’ll be pouring my heart out to you. Updated
fortnightly if not more frequently.

Ruth Ann Harnisch, Founder & President

Here’s where I sound off! Whether I’m sharing fresh insights or channeling
righteous rage, this is the place I’ll be pouring my heart out to you. Updated
fortnightly if not more frequently.

In 1998, when I founded the Harnisch Foundation, my intention was to be a good steward, leveraging money, skills, and connections to help make life a little better for others.
Ruth Ann Harnisch
In 1998, when I founded the Harnisch Foundation, my intention was to be a good steward, leveraging money, skills, and connections to help make life a little better for others.
Ruth Ann Harnisch

2 years ago

Issue 4: Moving Beyond “The One”

Dear Reader,

I owe my broadcasting career to the meddling federal government.

When I started looking for work, I ran into the neophyte’s dilemma: you can’t get a job without experience, but you can’t get experience without a job. This is historically worse for women and other underrepresented groups because the Old White Boys Network keeps hiring people with whom they’re most comfortable, meaning, more pale males.

In 1967, the Federal Communications Commission began requiring “affirmative action hiring practices” for broadcast companies. The FCC mandated broadcasters’ staffs should fairly represent the communities they served.  If the city didn’t have a 100% white male population, the staff couldn’t be exclusively white and male. And no fair putting women and minorities in all the menial jobs – stations had to include them at every level of hiring.

Broadcasters were forced to make a documentable effort to comply with the new employment policies. They had to seek out women and people of color. And they had to help them become qualified if no qualified people were available. The old “We’d hire one if we could find one who was qualified” excuse no longer worked. That’s how local news became lousy with weather girls and anchor teams that looked like most men’s second marriages.

When I got my first on-air job in television, the station was specifically looking for a woman because they had to have one. (They already had their black male.) As more women were being hired in television and radio, more women got opportunities in print, too. This was partly because of lawsuits demanding an end to discrimination.

Media outlets were becoming more diverse, but the pace was glacial because managers often stopped when they found The One. In the 1980s, aspiring op-ed writers were told “Sorry, honey, we already have one.” (That “one” was either Anna Quindlen or Ellen Goodman, pioneering syndicated columnists.) While opinion pages are still largely white male real estate, Katie Orenstein’s working to change that. Her revolutionary creation, The Op-Ed Project, is a kind of newfangled non-government affirmative action program for aspiring thought leaders from underrepresented demographics. The Op-Ed Project teaches people to turn their expertise into op-ed columns.

Katie will be one of the featured speakers at BinderCon, the “Out of the Binders” conference designed to educate, empower, and inspire women writers. Mitt Romney spoke of “binders full of women,” and BinderCon is designed to get women out of the figurative binders and onto payrolls, credit rolls, mastheads. There’s no good excuse for not hiring women writers. The Harnisch Foundation is proud to be a presenting sponsor of BinderCon in Los Angeles. There's still time to register!

Affirmative action was necessary because companies weren’t going to diversify their workforces without the enduring threat of punishment. Yet today we must still apply pressure to get employers to seek out diverse hires, to get financiers to support women and minority enterprises, to get gender and racial parity in media, to have our elected officials reflect the diversity of the population they represent.

Yes, it’s going to be unfair and uncomfortable for the people who have to move over and make way for the people who never had a chance before now. Sorry not sorry, as the kids say. It’s way past time for parity to be the law of the land. That’s affirmative.

Love,

Ruth Ann

Read: You Are Not Alone

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 5.39.35 PMShonda Rhimes is a showrunner, screenwriter, and maybe the biggest badass we know. However, it took many years for her to find her people, know her tribe, and get the opportunity to write the characters she'd been building in her head for most of her life.

"You should get to turn on the TV and see your tribe. And your tribe can be any kind of person, any one you identify with, anyone who feels like you, who feels like home, who feels like truth. You should get to turn on the TV and see your tribe, see your people, someone like you out there, existing."

 

Watch: Ava Duvernay at SXSW

"If your dream only includes you, it's too small."

Attend: Blogologues Annual Sex Show

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 5.49.50 PMFor their annual sex-themed show, Blogologues has extended their run until March 28th! The show is absolutely hilarious, and not to be missed. We'd tell you more, but we don't want to give it away.

Get tickets for Fridays at 9:30PM and Saturdays at 7:30PM.

Ask: Ruth Ann a Question

Have questions about philanthropy? Looking for ways to maximize your impact? Want the latest on girls & women? Ask our Founder Ruth Ann below. Check back as she'll respond in a future post.

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Engage: with a different perspective

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 6.01.22 PM"What took her down was a male-centric culture. What raised her up was daring to speak again."

Monica Lewinsky spoke at TED this year about perspectives, bullying, and a woman's right to insist on a different ending to her story.


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