ESPN veteran Frederickson’s purview continues to grow as consumer media consumption habits evolve. She recently adopted leadership over the entire news group, which comprises hundreds of reporters and producers based across the country. She’s also responsible all SportsCenter morning and daytime shows, and the entire talent producing group at ESPN. In the year ahead, Frederickson plans to prioritize encouraging and promoting women in production. “As we move up, we need to pay it forward, identify top female talent, coach and mentor them, and make sure we talk them up among our male peers and bosses,” she says.
What specifically does your company do to support and elevate the women who work there?
We have amazing groups here at ESPN to support and elevate our female employees. We have a strong Women’s Employee Resource Group which regularly provides information that is relevant to women in the industry and within ESPN. They sponsor events to support our female employees, including panels and networking events. In addition to the ERG, we also have a specific group called Women in Production that is comprised of female content leaders in production, with the expressed purpose to retain and elevate women in content decision-making positions within production. Many women select out of production, so this group puts on dinners where up-and-coming female production staffers can network with female content leaders and learn what it takes to move up and be successful. The group also organizes monthly panels for all employees, but focused on topics that our female content employees have articulated are concerns for them. Finally, we have an Executive Women’s Forum, which is comprised of all the female leaders, VP-level and above. This group meets regularly to network with each other, mentor rising female stars within the company and drive conversation among all employees about the challenges of being a female at ESPN and how we can actively support high-performing women at the company.
How can the industry do a better job of recruiting women and ensuring they have a path to senior positions?
I believe women helping other women is critical to getting more women in senior positions. Many times we find women thinking there are only so many spots for women and we must compete with each other to get there. Instead, we need to work collaboratively to help each other get to the positions we deserve. As we move up, we need to pay it forward, identify top female talent, coach and mentor them, and make sure we talk them up among our male peers and bosses. We need to look around the room in meetings we are in and call out when we are not properly represented and have a suggestion of who should be included. And as we help others, we need to let them know that they, too, need to give back and help those behind them. With this, we create a network of powerful, influential women who can make change.
What advice would you give your 13-year-old self?
The advice I would give my 13-year-old self is not that different to the advice I give myself every day. Even 27 years into my career, I regularly remind myself to be myself, do my best, do the right thing and consistently think of others. What has changed since I was 13 years old is that I now see that we need more than to “just do your best” to be successful. As a young person, you think you can do anything by yourself, but I have learned that everyone needs help. That help can come in the form of friends and family providing emotional support, it can come from peers and colleagues who help build you up to people that matter, and it can come from people in power who help identify you as high performing. I would also advise my 13-year-old self to not overthink things. Too often, we talk ourselves out of going for an opportunity because “I’m not ready,” “I’m too busy,” or “I won’t have time for a social life.” Instead, I would advise to keep your foot on the gas, take opportunities that are presented, even if you think they’re not perfect, because the opportunity is likely to help you learn something you didn’t know before and have a positive influence you haven’t even considered. I currently have this opportunity to provide advise based on my experience, because I have two daughters, ages 14 and 10, and I find myself often trying to help them benefit from the things I have learned. Here’s to them having even more opportunities for their future!