Exhibition World Issue 4 | Page 17

WIE Summit

Deep dive into a four-track WiE session in Maastricht

WiE Summit : Stephanie Selesnick offers a perspective from a North American Chapter founder
he inaugural Women

T in Exhibitions ( WiE ) Summit was held just ahead of the UFI European Conference in Maastricht , Netherlands last June . As has been reported elsewhere in this edition of EW , there were over 100 men and women in attendance from several countries . I was part of a sizeable North American delegation .

First impression : This was , hands-down , the best Women ’ s Conference I ’ ve been to anywhere in the world . The quality of speakers was top notch and the mingling between delegates was friendly and fun -– and included some good business too . I was one of the speakers , facilitating an hour-long session with breakouts based on the topics discussed earlier in the first conference day .
During my session , delegates self-selected from four different topics for a deeper dive discussion : Generational Differences ; Growing the Diversification and Inclusion of our Exhibitors and Visitors at Our Exhibitions ; How to Stand Up for Yourself , and a focus group on the future of WiE ( not covered below ). Here ’ s what I found :
Generational Differences : anchored by Martha Donato , founder and partner of US-based Mad Event Management , the 8-10 participants were mostly next generation younger women . Some are still students at university , others getting their feet wet ( newbies ). They discussed the challenges of being taken seriously in the workplace and how to find a career pathway in the industry .
KEY LEARNINGS : Don ’ t discount younger people within your organisations . They have a completely different perspective and knowledge set than you do . Use their ideas , particularly in making events more exciting , relevant , and interactive . Use their great ideas for attracting others their age to your events and possible employment . Finally , use them as ambassadors to talk about the fun and creative aspects of show business .
Diversification of Visitors and Exhibitors : Interestingly , most senior executives selected this topic and turned it on its head .
They wanted to make initiatives in DE & I for the exhibit floor economically sustainable . Can it be done ? Yes . Should it be done ? Without a doubt ! People want to see others who look like them – be it by colour , religion , sex , etc .
Think of it as enlarging your community ( and bottom line ) by attracting then nurturing new subcommunities .
Stephanie Selesnick . Photo courtesy of Vibe Collector
KEY LEARNING : Sustainable DE & I attracting exhibitors and visitors takes a long-term plan , investment ( including people , not just money ), buy-in from upper management , and creativity . Done properly , it will become self-sustaining too .
Stand Up for Yourself : This was the largest group , consisting of all age groups and job titles . Facilitated by Laura Purdy , GM , Canada-based Exhibition Place , many participants shared stories of being sidelined , harassed ( particularly younger women ), and having ideas stolen by other , mostly male colleagues . It wasn ’ t a gripe session – instead focusing on techniques and tips for counteracting these real-life workplace issues .
KEY LEARNINGS : This issue is a big one , and something we as an industry need to pay more attention to . If affects women in all jobs , around the world . Suggestion to our male counterparts : listen more closely to what the women in your meetings are saying . You might learn something new . Also , if someone in your organisation says they are being harassed , act – immediately . Even better , put a system in place where people can share concerns in all confidentiality . This should include a clear procedure on what actions need to be taken .
Not sure yet where and when the second WiE Summit will be held . Send your team . I ’ ll see you there !
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