Last week, Conference and Incentive Travel magazine published a piece by Jack Carter entitled Women must ‘brag’ more to succeed in events. This was based on a presentation from the MPI European Meetings & Events Conference (EMEC) 2015.
Why are we still having these conversations? And why, as women do we continue to allow ourselves be manipulated into these silo discussions by statistics created by organisations seeking out headlines?
Jane Baker, vice president of client services at Freeman XP, commenting on the statistic that it generally takes a woman 24 years to become a CEO while it takes a man 15 years seemed to think that women didn’t get to the top because they stayed at the same company slowly climbing the greasy pole. People who are driven to become CEOs within 15 years generally don’t work their way up, they move position regularly, and it has very little to do with loving a company or enjoying its culture and working environment.
Baker also suggested that big businesses are generally beset by bureaucracy and politics, something that turns women off. Well I know plenty of women who are brilliant at navigating both of these things, slicing through them like a hot knife on butter, and I would also struggle to name more than a handful of events companies with cultures like this. She states that many women who are successful leaders have stepped away to create their own agencies – isn’t this a symbol that the events industry is very empowering for women rather than the opposite? Surely success isn’t only measured by your position on the board of a FTSE100 company?
Apparently, according to Karin Krogh, owner of Nyt Potentiale, ‘Men are very good at bragging. We all have to make sure that we brag as well. If we do everything right then nobody notices…’ Really? Nobody notices when an event has gone off without a hitch; when the budget is met; when the VIPs write to say thank you; when your audience is giving you five star ratings? Events are only as good as the personnel who put them together, and if no one notices then you have got nothing to brag about. Just shouting louder only creates a cacophony, not the best environment in which to work.
There are some phenomenally creative, experienced and talented women in the events and meetings industry; many of whom are creating environments which challenge the boardroom status quo, with flat management structures and the opportunities for everyone in the organisation to shine. This is what we should be celebrating, not trying to emulate the business structures which have been a stricture on not just women’s, but also men who don’t conform to the boardroom norm’s, progress.