In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and claims of rampant sexual misconduct in Hollywood’s film industry, the issue of gender equality in the workplace is back on the agenda.
In the meetings and event industry, where women make up the majority of the workforce, this discussion is particularly relevant. Surprisingly however, very few industry leaders have taken steps to address the issue.
The IMEX Group made an effort earlier this year at IMEX Frankfurt with a dedicated ‘Pink Hour’ networking event on the showfloor. Despite the group’s best intentions, Pink Hour received criticism as a half-hearted attempt to discuss serious gender equality concerns. Some event professionals even labeled it ‘insensitive’ and ‘demeaning'.
But it seems IMEX CEO Carina Bauer has responded to criticism, with the announcement this week of the ‘She Means Business’ conference dedicated to women.
A half-day conference will be launched at IMEX Frankfurt next year and will take a day before the show, as part of EduMonday.
Carina Bauer, CEO of IMEX Group, explains: “It has long been noticeable that whilst women are in the majority in the meetings industry, they are in the minority in leadership positions.
"We want to play our part in highlighting the challenges that women face, but more importantly helping to introduce solutions. The best way to do this is to bring people together for open conversation, collaboration and learning.”
Created in partnership German magazine tw tagungswirtschaft, the event will aim to address ‘crucial issues’ currently faced by women in the meetings and events sector, and both male and female delegates are invited to attend.
Kerstin Wünsch, editor-in-chief of tw tagungswirtschaft, says the event was promoted by findings of the magazine’s recent Women in the Event Industry global survey, which showed that nearly 80 per cent of respondents are seeking platforms to meet and exchange ideas.
Bauer adds: “As an industry we must continue to discuss, ask questions, challenge preconceptions and push forward for change. It’s only by meeting and collaborating that we can make an impact for women in the industry.”
The Exhibition and Events Association of Australasia (EEAA) also deserves a mention here, as its fierce leader, CEO Joyce DiMascio, is a passionate advocate for gender equality. The Sydney-based association has held a number of events in recent years to mark International Women’s Day and support women in the industry.