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Why Having Women in Leadership Is Crucial for the Event Industry

Why Having Women in Leadership Is Crucial for the Event Industry


Mar 08, 2023 Shruti Shah

Women are no longer left behind in the professional world. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, women represented 56.2 percent of the college-educated labor force in the United States. In spite of promising statistics, a significant gender gap in terms of pay, resources, and mentorship continues to exist, with only approximately 27 percent women in management and leadership roles as per the report, and as per the Fortune 500 list in America has only 15% of women CEOs as of March 2022.  

When it comes to inclusivity, the events and exhibition industry has been leading by example with a majority female workforce. But it would be injudicious to ignore the fact that women's representation in leadership roles is painfully scarce. Having a fair representation of women in leadership roles is vital on multiple levels. But before diving into ‘why it’s important’, we need to identify the hurdles contributing to this consistent gap.  

 

Challenges to Gender Diversity in Leadership
The first step towards making leadership a more gender-neutral space is to accept the prevalent disparity and consistently confront the challenges that lead to underrepresentation of women in the industry.  

Recently promoted, Laurie Delpino, now Director of Customer Success at a leading events company expressed that, "I do not look at women equality as a Man versus Woman fight but more as a long-standing siloed belief of gender, race, what we represent, and each other’s role in society. It is these siloed walls that we need to break together to rise as a balanced unity." 

Having said that, the challenges that women face aren’t ubiquitous and there are inspiring examples of how specific workplaces are taking laudable steps to eliminate gender discrimination. Undeniably the tides are changing and the disparity is closing in, but the need of the hour is to speed things up so we could reap benefits of a gender-neutral industry leadership sooner. 

Here are the dominant challenges we are talking about.  
1. Work-Family Balance - Established as the primary caregiver, the struggle to juggle family responsibilities and full-time work is real for many working women. Also, owing to the long-established work and societal cultures, women often lack the support to change the scenario. The struggle becomes even more pronounced in the event industry as it requires working odds hours (where one definitely loses track of time), traveling to venues, and being available round the clock, especially near an event date. Erratic schedules often make balancing domestic and work duties difficult for women (and everyone else!). 
 
2. Lowered Self-Expectations - Studies have found that the idea of setting high expectations for themselves and taking charge is stigmatized as bossy and dominant for women in multiple cultures. This cultivates self-doubt and low confidence. Not cool! 

3.
Lack of Guidance & Support - We cannot say there are many supportive networks, mentorship programs, and career/career-restarting support groups, specially designed for women professionals to help them overcome common challenges. IBTM recently released research conducted by PWC and the study showed that only 16 percent of women were in a senior position in the events industry, which makes access to inspirational women mentors even more difficult. 

4.
Emotional Card - This is our favorite, most ridiculous joke to hear! Women are emotional, and it is the core attribute of this gender. More often than not, women are disregarded for leadership positions assuming they make emotionally driven decisions or are less decisive! Kristen Adamo, president, and CEO of the Providence Warwick CVB agrees that women face different challenges than their male counterparts - “Even though you may be passionate about your destination, you have to check your emotions at the door, or there is a good chance you will not be taken seriously,” 
 

Why Is It Important to Have Women in Leadership Roles? 
The attributes of women that are stereotypically perceived as weaknesses can be utilized as strengths, and the event industry can actually benefit from them. Research by global consulting firm McKinsey revealed that companies with more women on their boards outperform those without by a significant margin, and organizations with greater gender diversity among senior leaders are more profitable.  

Leadership traits in women need recognition to move towards parity and demonstrate the significance of having women in leadership positions.  
1. Fresh Perspective for Growth - Heterogenous viewpoints, a larger pool of ideas, creative abilities, and attention to detail foster innovation and deliver more successful events. Women-led C-suite collectively makes the whole management team more open to change, backed by a strategic mindset shift towards transformation but with better risk-aversion. In the event industry whose one cornerstone is creativity, the demand for fresh ideas and concepts can never drop.
“We have made strides as people realize the importance of diversity around the table, be that gender, race, or age. It’s no longer a nice thing to do — it’s a business case,” said Julie Coker, president, and CEO, of the San Diego Tourism Authority.

 
2. Women are Innately Emphatic and Team Builders - Women are known to play several roles throughout their lives with unparalleled strength, leadership, and versatility. Everyone desires a leader who relates to the team, is emphatic, and listens, and women are born with these superpowers. The passion and enthusiasm a woman can bring to the table are not blatantly authoritative but more cooperative. A fostering environment brings teams on the same page, enabling easy implementation of new cultures and seamless change management with lesser resistance.  
 

3. Great Communicators and Negotiators (You bet!) – Do we even need to elaborate that women are powerhouses of communication and negotiation? Using their skillset female leaders can break the ice with teams, peers, and business connections while forming concrete communication streams. They identify more creative options, pay close attention to relationships, and are strong advocates for others. When women embrace these strategies, they're more effective negotiators, setting an example for new aspirants. Speaking of EaaS (Event as a Service) the big commotion of negotiations between vendors and clients requires precise skills, and women just have it in them! 

4. Women Are Born to lead - Recent research by Business Insider showed that women are perceived as better and more capable leaders in comparison to their male counterparts.  Inherently programmed to multitask and switch roles at home and work, women adjust to new roles and situations more quickly. Despite decades of development, gender wage gap exists. As parity in pay and policies are created by the top management or decision makers, companies with female leaders have greater chances of initiating and implementing changes on that front.  
Women leaders are confident and open-minded towards hiring new talent, facilitating open viewpoints, and risk aversion instincts that lead to better corporate decision-making. 


5.
Acing Crisis Management – A leadership quality that is unanimously voted on and exhibited by women leaders is keeping cool during a crisis. Having female leaders to walk the teams through is pivotal for a simple reason – women are successful multitaskers, and handling crisis is a salient feat that they naturally possess. Most female leaders have set the example of managing all fronts, from everyday household crisis to career decisions parallelly, and also knowing when to make choices between the two. Also, crisis management in events is crucial. Everyone looks up to the captain of the ship for solutions. It requires prompt actions, agility, and the ability to handle a situation with minimum disruption.  

Putting it in simple words, every woman is naturally designed, or say programmed with leadership qualities. The onus is on the industry, workplaces, and establishments to acknowledge their potential, and  

  • Assist women to develop intuitive traits.
  • Create opportunities, and connect them with mentors to help them identify their potential. 
  • Enable them with confidence to explore opportunities without inhibitions.    

Kamala Harris, the first female Vice President of the US, and Amy Hood, the first female CFO in Microsoft history are some very recent examples leading the way, making believable what Sheryl Sandberg, the first woman on Facebook’s board of directors, said - “In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.”  

Eventcombo is an equal opportunity company and is proud to be associated with leading women who are a significant part of our paramount industrial transformations. To honor women leaders across the world, we are hosting an empowering event - Woman Inspiring Women – where women executives will provide a platform for emerging female pioneers.  

Click here to register for the event. https://bit.ly/3kQDMnI 


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