Barangaroo played host this morning to The Stella Network’s first event for 2016. ‘Changing the Cycle’ featured a cycling panel comprising SBS Tour de France broadcaster Michael Tomalaris, Olympic Gold Medallist and hugely successful cyclist Brad McGee and former Australian Road and Track Cyclist and World Champion medallist Katherine Bates.
Around 90 people in the Network heard the panellists talk about how SBS was brave enough to go out on a limb to make a change. They were the first to broadcast cycling and challenge the then-diet of Australian sport coverage that was football and cricket, and then in supporting women they demonstrated how they could really make a difference to the sporting landscape.
It was great to see more men than usual attending this session – and hopefully they’ll be back. One of the themes this morning was the idea that we need those who hold the current power in numbers to understand the challenges women still have in sport and in business.
SBS has been broadcasting Le Tour de France for nearly 25 years which has helped cycling contend with traditional viewing. According to Mike Tomalaris, the sport rose to its peak during Cadel Evan’s second place Tour finishes in 2007 and 2008 when Le Tour for the first time had more Australian viewers than the Wimbledon Women’s Final.
Brad McGee says he benefited greatly from the investment SBS put into the sport and now as a coach is reaping the benefits of the surge in popularity for the sport.
According to Kate Bates, the women’s cycling story was quite different as the coverage hasn’t yet quite reached the same heights. She says men definitely have recognition in the sport - even wearing her World Championship winner’s jersey wasn’t enough to have others recognise her achievements.
Overall, Kate says there’s still a long way to go. Now working in broadcast media, she says she was recently told that she wasn’t required to commentate the men’s race as ‘what would women know about men’s racing?’ She was fortunate to have a male partner on the panel who said, ‘great, then I guess I don’t have to commentate the women’s event, as what would I know about women’s racing, right?’
Her main message was to be brave, as an organisation that stands out in a changing world, and avoid mediocrity at all costs.
The Stella Network couldn’t agree more. We want to lead the change and not just be a part of it and through Stella we want to keep the conversation going.
Diversity it better for everyone, and we need more women in financial planning. It not only allows a greater choice of advice provider but it also gives a wider range of insight for the industry to progress.
Thank you to our wonderful BT Events Team this morning led by Alexandra Manley, our stand in photographer Anine Leakey.