CMF announces initiatives to increase the contribution of women

New initiatives presented on International Women's Day

Toronto, March 8, 2017 – The Canada Media Fund (CMF) announced today a series of tangible measures it will put in place to increase women in key roles on CMF-funded productions. These include concrete changes to the CMF’s guidelines and policies, a commitment to achieving gender parity in all juries that are put in place to evaluate projects, and support for third-party initiatives, among other measures to be implemented in the upcoming fiscal year and subsequently. This announcement coincides with the U.N.’s International Women’s Day 2017 celebrations, the theme of which is “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030.”

As demonstrated by research conducted in different markets around the world and by the CMF’s own statistics, women are underrepresented in leadership categories in the screen-based industries: on average, for content the CMF invests in, women in leadership positions represent 17 per cent of directors, 34 per cent of writers and 39 per cent of producers. According to a Women in View on Screen report submitted to the CRTC, for 17 of the 29 series supported by the CMF in 2012-2013, representing a public investment of $39M, not a single woman directed any of the 151 episodes.

This is not a problem exclusive to Canada’s screen-based industries. According to Statistics Canada, women hold 35.5 per cent of all management positions and only 33.3 per cent of all senior management positions in Canada’s workforce. In keeping with the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day celebrations, the CMF’s initiatives will provide meaningful solutions to gender imbalance in the audiovisual industry workplace.

“Different perspectives trigger innovation and creativity, and lead us to a more holistic world view. Societies that maximize diverse views offer a competitive advantage. By way of a U.S. example, in 2016, FX channel received a record number of Emmy nominations after increasing the diversity of directors on its productions from 12 per cent in 2014 to 51 per cent to 2016,” stated Valerie Creighton, President and CEO, CMF. “We hold the view that female-led stories and ideas are available to our content makers. We believe that the talent and skill are out there. We only need to level the playing field, so new opportunities for women can be triggered. I’m confident the measures we are announcing today will trigger those opportunities.”

The enthusiasm to embark on or accelerate this shift in the industry is evident. The CMF and Telefilm Canada announced last April that improving gender balance was a priority for both organizations. Recent announcements by the CBC, the NFB, the Société de développement des entreprises culturelles (SODEC), Telefilm and others also demonstrate the industry’s willingness to move forward on this issue.

“Triggering opportunity requires a paradigm shift in thinking from an unconscious bias that has become institutionalized in our industry. A collective approach from all parts of the industry will be required if we are serious about shifting this long-held paradigm,” added Creighton.

As such, the CMF will implement the following initiatives in 2017-2018:

  • Require that broadcasters target to commit 25 per cent of their Performance Envelopes (in $ terms) and be required to commit a minimum of 15 per cent of their Envelopes on projects that employ a requisite number of women in the following key positions: Producer, Writer, Showrunner, Director (or a combination thereof). Further details on this measure will be announced in the CMF’s 2017-2018 Program Guidelines to be published in the next few weeks.

  • Carve out a portion of the Team (studio and staff) criterion weight and reward projects in the Experimental Stream that are female-led to include CEO, Producer and potentially other prevalent positions such as Technical Director, Art Director, Senior Programmer, Designer and others.

  • Amend the evaluation grids in selective programs in the Convergent Stream to add points for female-led positions.

  • Strive to achieve gender parity in all juries that are put in place to evaluate projects received in the Experimental Stream.

  • Develop and implement a “Director Job Placement Incentive,” the objective of which would be to provide eligible projects in the Convergent Stream with financial incentives to retain female directors in a shadowing/internship capacity.

  • Participate in third-party gender balance initiatives that complement the CMF’s objectives.

  • Partner with the unions and guilds to incentivize the industry to open up career paths in crew positions for women.

  • Adjust its application process to include gender self-declaration.

  • Monitor results and amend policies as required to achieve gender balance in all CMF programs by 2020.

  • In 2018-2019, require that broadcasters target to commit 35 per cent of their Envelopes (in $ terms) and be required to commit a minimum of 25 per cent of their Envelopes to female-led projects.

  • In 2019-2020, the target would increase to 50 per cent and the requirement to 35 per cent.

The CMF appreciates the announcement of these changes comes at a time when several productions may already be locked-in for the year. These initiatives are the first step to progressive and full implementation of what is considered balanced representation, wherein 40 to 60 per cent of all content supported by the CMF will be female-led. The CMF will examine the results of these initiatives at the conclusion of the 2017-2018 fiscal year and in consultation with industry stakeholders. Policies will be amended if the intended targets are not achieved.

The initiatives and policy changes the CMF will implement are informed by its own internal research and analysis, an extensive academic literature review, participation in industry-wide research, and ongoing discussions with government, academic and industry partners.

About the Canada Media Fund
The Canada Media Fund (CMF) fosters, develops, finances and promotes the production of Canadian content and applications for all audiovisual media platforms. The CMF guides Canadian content towards a competitive global environment by fostering industry innovation, rewarding success, enabling a diversity of voice and promoting access to content through public and private sector partnerships. The CMF receives financial contributions from the Government of Canada and Canada’s cable, satellite and IPTV distributors. Please visit


For media inquiries:

André Ferreira
Communications Manager
Canada Media Fund
[email protected]
(416) 554-2768