A year ago on International Women’s Day I wrote an article for Performance In discussing why more Women don’t speak at conferences and what could be done about it. A year on, has much changed?
I caused a bit of a stir a few weeks ago from a simple comment I made on LinkedIn regarding a panel at a recent Affiliate Marketing conference.
The panel was titled “Affiliate Wonder Women” and was positioned as an all-woman panel discussing affiliate marketing challenges and trends.
The simple comment on LinkedIn attracted over 100,000 views, nearly 500 likes and 75 comments. Clearly a passionate subject, with many different views and opinions.
I’d like to make a few things clear here. I have no issue with an all-woman panel. As per my article last year I want to see more new talent speaking at conferences, and a much more diverse range of speakers. However, what I take issue with is purposely creating a panel of just Women, let them be up there because they are experts in their field, not because they are Women. And, don’t patronise them with the title ‘Wonder Women’, come on, we’re better than that, right?
We are moving in the right direction, 35% of speakers at the conference were Women, which is ok, but could be better.
On the back of this I decided to do some research and looked at some of the top companies in our industry to see how many Women they had in senior and board positions. There were a couple of clearly progressive companies who’s senior team was made up of 50% Women, but all companies had less than 20% in the executive team. One company had no Women in any senior positions at all. The government target for FTSE 100 companies is 33% in board positions by 2020 and all companies should be working towards this.
On International Women’s’ Day, and in the year which marks 100 years since Women got the right to vote let’s all think about what we can do to make a positive difference. This isn’t just about Women, this is about equality across our industry, being given the same opportunities regardless of your sex, background, ethnicity, disabilities etc. We are all responsible for making sure this happens and conferences are a place to demonstrate to young people, new people and those from outside the industry what a diverse and equal channel we are. But everyone has to play their part; call it out when you think something is not right. I got some stick for that comment on LinkedIn, but I don’t care, I felt strongly that it was setting the wrong example and I called it out, as a result the description was changed.
Change only happens when people stand up and do something about it.