Photo credit: IMEX

Photo credits: IMEX Group – She Means Business

This is a valuable and timely topic that has been building to a crescendo recently: women building more power, respect, and parity in the workplace and society as a whole. Firstly, I think we need to consider the current landscape and there are many recent achievements which we can be proud of.

A report by J.P. Morgan found that women’s share of board directorships globally increased last year, with large American companies leading the way. Countries, where women advanced most in board participation, included Norway, France, Sweden, Australia, and New Zealand, the report found.

This success is set to grow as California recently passed a law requiring more women on boards – California Senate Bill 826 requires publicly held companies based in California to have a minimum of one woman on their boards of directors by the end of 2019.

Significant steps are being made on the path to gender equality and I think this should be celebrated. What’s more, the conversation around equality is being expanded to include diversity and there are clear arguments as to why diversity – both in the workplace and across society in general – matters. Having a workforce comprised of people with different backgrounds, experiences and skills means the ideas generated by these teams won’t be homogenous – they’ll be innovative and creative, and that’s key to business growth and success. This can have a significant subsequent impact on an organisation’s bottom line. The proof? A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) found that “increasing the diversity of leadership teams leads to more and better innovation and improved financial performance. In short, companies that have more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue.”

It’s clear that companies need to do more to instil gender diversity, especially because women remain underrepresented across all levels in the workplace.

Diversity means diversity of people, minds, ideas, and approaches and it’s something we value at IMEX and recognise as crucial to the future success of the events industry – that’s why it forms a core part of our offering at IMEX in Frankfurt this year. We’re exploring diversity – including gender equality –through She Means Business, created in partnership with tw tagungswirtschaft, a conference celebrating the role of women in the events industry.  As one of the inspiring speakers debating the crucial issues facing women today, Gernot Sendowski, Director of HR Global Diversity & Inclusion at Deutsche Bank AG, delivers a male perspective on gender equality and female empowerment as well as exploring the German and European diversity charters.  Nelly Mukazayire, CEO, Rwanda Convention Bureau will talk about her personal journey from a young girl in Rwanda during the genocide to being one of the youngest CEOs in a country in which 67% of parliament is made up of women.

However, in many respects, we still have a way to go. We did a survey with TW magazine that shows there’s still quite a big gender disparity in the industry. It’s clear that companies need to do more to instil gender diversity, especially because women remain underrepresented across all levels in the workplace.

One of the ways to address this is to take a fresh look at recruitment practices across the board and also ensure principles of diversity are adopted throughout company, not simply siloed in one department. What’s more, I believe that management should lead by example. Senior leadership has a role to play in terms of mentoring and supporting.

Don’t expect change in a vacuum. Men and women need to work together to make it happen.

This is something one of our speakers at She Means Business, Martina Niemann, VP Lufthansa HR Management, agrees with. She says: “For me, the topic works when it has become a leadership position – and not “just” a topic of a project group or a diversity department. If the topic is anchored in a department, there is a danger that it will get stuck in this plane and not get the air to breathe. The topic needs management attention and belongs at the management level.”

Through She Means Business – and our IMEX in Frankfurt show as a whole – we want to provide a platform where everyone (both women and men) can collaborate, learn and share ideas around gender equality – and then take that knowledge and energy back to their own organisations, events, and communities. Don’t expect change in a vacuum. Men and women need to work together to make it happen. We want to help spread the word!

Overall the journey to gender equality is a marathon that will develop over the long term — but it starts with small steps that add up over time.

She Means Business, part of EduMonday, takes place on Monday 20 May, the day before IMEX in Frankfurt, 21 -23 May 2019. It’s free to enter once you’ve registered for IMEX in Frankfurt.

Registration for the show is free of charge and open to all in the meetings, events and incentive travel industry.

International Women’s Day every year on 8 March celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.