Conference News September 2021 - Page 15

15 Sexism

How should we act ?
According to Matt Grey , director at EventDecision , the industry suffers from comments from high-profile individuals but turns a blind-eye to it due to commercial success . “ A female member of my team was addressed in very unsavoury sexist terms by the senior leader at an agency ,” he says .
So , how do we as an industry need to act ? “ We have made huge progress as an industry and I ’ m proud to work with many forward-thinking progressive male and female leaders who want to work on the solutions … not just the problem ,” comments Sharpe . “ It makes business sense to have a top team that reflects society – men , women , black , white , different backgrounds , that ’ s when the best creative work and company culture develops . We all just need to step up to the plate and take action to make a difference and create as diverse and open a culture as we can because it just makes business and personal sense .
“ Toxic bosses , racial discrimination , sexism and nepotism have no place in today ’ s workplace , let ’ s put that behind us and look forward for a brighter , more inclusive future .”
Riches thinks that it is important for the profession to come together and initiate change : “ Initiatives such as Diversity Ally ’ s 2022 Diversity in Events Awards are a brilliant enterprise that celebrate best in class and champions our sector ’ s leaders in inclusivity ,” he comments . “ On the one hand we have many dozens of excellent SMEs that are women-owned and operated business , but that doesn ’ t extend into the large international agencies . Only a handful have been brave enough to put a woman in charge as CEO . We need more shareholders to force the change to equal and balanced boards .”
Missing piece of the puzzle
“ We are missing a vital piece of this complicated puzzle , and we urgently need strong male leaders to step forward and open up the dialogue ,” comments Vanessa Lovatt , chief evangelist at Glisser . “ This should be an inclusive conversation and it ’ s essential to bring more men into this discussion now , to enable real change .”
Sharpe agrees : “ It ’ s like anything such as racism , sexism or ageism ; you can ’ t solve it without everyone coming together .”
According to Disley , the industry needs to acknowledge that it has a problem and then work to find the balance in all areas , whether it be at the events we produce , our speaker line-ups , or most importantly , internally in our senior teams .
“ There is a lot of rhetoric about what women should do to improve their situation , but I call on men to provide more allyship , self-awareness and to not turn a blind eye to male colleagues when they see inappropriate behaviour or prejudice . Tell them it ’ s wrong and let there be consequences .”
A cure for the pay gap ?
Kenward thinks that Covid has had a positive impact on the gender pay gap . “ A lot of agencies have had to reassess their workforce because of losing half of it last year . This reset caused many to realise that they had quite a bloated salary structure and a workforce with people being paid higher salaries due to time served , rather than for the added value they brought or the responsibly they held . The new flexibility around Covid also means that women with families feel more comfortable asking for flexible working hours , whereas before they might have taken a lower salary .” Buyer behaviour will ensure agencies and the supply chain will start to take notice , says Grey . “ In the US especially , for a few years now I ’ ve noticed clients and procurers ask for evidence of diversity and equality in agency leadership and ownership roles . Perhaps this is one trend we should encourage on this side of the pond .”
“ I think the future is beholden on sector leadership , particularly through the associations and BVEP , to set goals and quotas . Tracking and reporting data on this will help to accelerate positive change ,” comments Riches . “ We are all different but fundamentally we are all the same . In business , the common factor is we all want to succeed . Working together is the way forward ,” concludes Sharpe .
“ Respect , honesty and an open mind to each other ’ s input and opinions have to be front and centre of business strategy . It ’ s not just about sales or finance , it ’ s about company culture , people and relationships – that ’ s what makes a successful business . Let ’ s work together and be proud of that above all else .” CN www . conference-news . co . uk