Targets not quotas, emerges as key approach to secure equal career opportunities for women in events

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Women make up 80% of the intake on event management degrees in the UK and, certainly the meetings and hospitality side of the industry, yet there is a marked bias against females,in C-Suite roles, a new survey claims.

A packed breakfast time audience at RIBA in Portland Place, London, came, 6 December, to hear a panel of events industry women leaders discuss the findings of the new White Paper, Women in Travel, Events & Hospitality.

The initiative was led by BCD Meetings & Events’ vice-president Fay Sharpe, who presented the report’s results, which showed 70% of female respondents felt that ‘Traditional bias’ was a key reason that women are under-represented at senior levels of the industry.

Issues around maintaining a work/life balance (42%) and maternity leave (34%) also polled highly, suggesting the industry must find ways to address mothers returning to work by implementing policies including: flexible working hours and family friendly benefits such as childcare vouches into their packages.

Nearly one in five women believed they had been discriminated in their career, according to the survey results, with 32% of women identifying a lack of role models as a key factor holding back their career progression.

Other key statistics to emerge included more than half (53%) of the 495 industry professionals polled, feeling that a more diverse workforce would deliver a “better decision-making process” and “better brand image” and “better business performance” both polling strongly at 42%.

Sharpe said that the aim of the survey was to highlight how organisations could maximise the potential of their female talent through overcoming challenges and using best practice.

To the question of whether quotas for women should be introduce at any point in the recruitment cycle, only 33% of those women surveyed were in favour and Sharpe and her panel were unanimous in the view that ”A job should be awarded on merit and not to meet gender targets”. However, the watchword for her was setting a ‘target’ for more equality of opportunity rather than going down the ‘quota’ route.

The report’s conclusion was that the events industry was making progress, albeit there was still room for improvement on the issue.

A panel discussion involving Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group; Dawn Repoli, executive director and COO of WINiT from the USA; Jo Austin, sales director at Lime Venue portfolio; and Claudia Jackson, vice-president at BCD Travel for global project management organisation and performance solutions, gave further perspectives from personal experience on how to maximise opportunities for women in events.

For a full report on the White Paper, see January 2018’s issue of Conference News.

Paul Colston


Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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