Issue #45

Events and Women

How women will help frame the dialogue in events in 2018.

Oprah may have dropped the mic at the Golden Globes, but it was Melinda Gates who in an op-ed to Time Magazine shined a spotlight on the next chapter in the women’s movement: women and leadership. In her piece, Gates called for more funding for women-led organizations pointing to the success rate of women’s movements, many of which run on a median budget.” Simply put, women get things done,” she wrote. 

This facet of the movement focusing on women in business emerged from Silicon Valley several years ago where women in tech spotlighted disparities in roles and compensation at some of the country’s most powerful tech companies. Through events, it continues to gain steam. 

Take Boston-based Innovation Women, a speaker bureau just for women. And the Women’s Leadership Forum, recognizing and honoring inspirational individuals for their leadership qualities and accomplishments.” And then there is the 3% Conference, Championing creative female talent and leadership.” Its name comes from a 2008 statistic that only 3 percent of creative directors at top ad agencies were women. The event organization considers itself a movement and operates with the message Diversity = Creativity = Profitability.” 

The event industry is feeling the influence of the movement, as marketers and event teams take a closer look at their agendas, their speakers, and their message. For example, CES, the largest consumer electronics show in the world, was challenged by Gender Avenger for having an all-male roster of keynoters this year. The uproar led to chief marketers (men and women) from major corporations calling the show out, including Twitter CMO Leslie Berland who tweeted, Hey @CES. Big respect for what you’ve built. Please do better here. I’ve got a long list of amazing women to hit your stage. Let’s talk. #changetheratio” and JP Morgan Chase CMO Kristin Lemkau who tweeted a list of 22 names of women in tech and media worthy of the stage. (CES responded, defending its record of women keynoters.) On the show floor, Twitter demonstrated its support for the movement, nixing swag and other complimentary items in favor of a donation to three nonprofits, two of which directly impact the next generation—Black Girls Code and Girls Inc.

The world is watching. As an industry, we’re in a leadership position to make change. For event and experiential marketers, there’s an opportunity to shift our spotlights, leverage the power of the movement, and elevate the experience for women in business, for women-centric events, and for women at events. 

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