Women must 'brag' more to succeed in events

Industry professionals at the MPI European Meetings & Events Conference (EMEC) 2015 gathered to discuss the key challenges facing women in events today.

Women in events discussed at MPI EMEC 2015, Warsaw
Women in events discussed at MPI EMEC 2015, Warsaw

An all-female audience joined a panel yesterday afternoon (2 February) made up of FreemanXP’s Jane Baker, owner of Nyt Potentiale Karin Krogh, HelmsBriscoe executive director Carole McKellar and MPI executive board member Fiona Pelham to discuss the roles of women in the events industry.

The discussion began with some revealing statistics taken from a Harvard Review business paper, stating that it takes women on average 50% longer to get to CEO positions – roughly 24 years as opposed to 15 years for men.

Big business culture

The first on the panel to speak was Jane Baker, vice president of client services, FreemanXP, who highlighted three things she believes hold women back in big businesses.

Baker said: "The first point is around company culture. If you’re going to stay at a company for more than 24 years then you really have to love that organisation. You have to completely affiliate with all of its values and you have to enjoy the culture and working environment.

"Big businesses are generally quite bureaucratic and these organisations aren’t always the most inspiring places for women to work if you don’t enjoy navigating through politics.

"The second thing is the motherhood penalty. One member of the couple needs to step away from their career to raise children. Women don’t have to be the ones to do this but once they do step away from the corporate ladder other people come in and start to take up those positions that women could have been elevated into.

"The third point is around choice. I think a lot of women are looking for a role that is both enriching and one with a culture that they really affiliate with but also one that works with their personal work/life balance.

"Many women that I see that are very successful leaders have stepped away to start their own agencies and they run their own companies in a way that suits them."

Bragging rights

Karin Krogh followed this by stating the importance of women making their achievements known in the work environment. She said: "Men are very good at bragging. We all have to make sure that we brag as well. If we do everything right then nobody notices, so that is why we have to document it.

"If you don’t brag your leaders will never know how good you are so when someone is up for promotion it will not be you because they don’t recognise you."

The definition of success

Next on the panel was HelmsBriscoe’s Carole McKellar, who highlighted another interesting challenge that some women face in the events industry.

"One of our challenges is that we fall into a traditional view of what success looks like and sometimes we’re aspiring to something that doesn’t suit us. You need to define what success looks like for you and that’s where it becomes much easier to balance competing priorities. We need to define what’s important to us."

Be brave

Fiona Pelham concluded the discussion by sharing the lessons she learned on her journey to becoming chair-elect on MPI’s international board for 2014-15. Pelham said: "I attended a leadership dinner when I was chapter president for the UK and Ireland and the dinner was full of men. I was very surprised because my experience of MPI and the events industry as a whole was that there are a lot of women.

"I reached being chapter president in the UK and I was very happy and I wasn’t thinking about moving onto an international level, but when I saw the opportunity I saw that this was my chance to be brave because clearly there’s something missing and there’s a gap that I can help fill."

Throughout the panel discussion, questions were put to the audience, with the responses being polled on the main screen.

The results included:

Do women make effective leaders? 92% said yes

Do you do enough to draw attention to your own achievements? 70% said no

Does the meetings industry offer good work/life balance? 51% said yes

Do you think of yourself as an innovator? 40% said yes 

In January, Zibrant's Fay Sharpe announced she will launch Fast Forward 15, a career-mentoring scheme for 15 women working in events and hospitality, which will launch this March.

More news from MPI EMEC 2015:

Five top trends shaping the events industry in 2015

In Pictures: MPI EMEC 2015 - part one

MPI EMEC 2015 kicks off in Krakow, Poland

MPI introduces hosted buyer programme for EMEC 2015

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles
and free email bulletins.

Register now
Already registered?
Sign in

5 ways technology can help hotels reopen safely

5 ways technology can help hotels reopen safely

New innovations will help hotels solve the challenges of coronavirus so that guests can return, says Louisa Watson of Wyboston Lakes Resort.

Dear C&IT: Diversity should be part of the process right from the start

Dear C&IT: Diversity should be part of the process right from the start

Event planners need to challenge the diversity of their internal teams and their clients, says WRG Live's Steve Porter

LIVE UPDATES: England to relax quarantine rules for visitors from 10 July

LIVE UPDATES: England to relax quarantine rules for visitors from 10 July

Find out which countries are on partial or national lockdown, what travel restrictions are in place and what size gatherings are allowed.

'Attention to detail is key'

'Attention to detail is key'

A-List 2020: Stephanie Aviss is an account manager at Top Banana

What does the future hold for incentive travel?

What does the future hold for incentive travel?

C&IT speaks to Black Tomato's David Heron to find out why he's feeling cautiously optimistic.

5 ways the industry can recover from the crisis

5 ways the industry can recover from the crisis

Catch up on our Crisis Briefing webinar, where experts from across the global MICE industry share their latest COVID-19 recovery plans.

Case study: Android's Partner Summit in Berlin

Case study: Android's Partner Summit in Berlin

Agency Wonder brought the tech giant's new branding to life in a former techno club in the German capital.

Events industry urges UK government to set reopening date

Events industry urges UK government to set reopening date

Senior industry figures argue that the lack of confirmed date risks losing major business to international competitors.

'It's great to be involved in the planning but onsite is where you really learn'

'It's great to be involved in the planning but onsite is where you really learn'

A-List 2020: Sarah Potts is an events project manager at BI Worldwide.

Dreaming down under: the Australia incentive

While global travel is on hold, it’s a time to dream. One Australian expert discusses her ultimate incentive itinerary for first-time visitors, including flying celebrated chefs around the country and dinner under the outback stars…