Events industry: it’s time for positive action on diversity
Let’s face it, the majority of people working in the UK events industry are young, white and female.
However, most owners of large events companies or corporate senior post-holders are white men.
Alex Palmer, Kina Events founder, says: “It’s not the case for everyone, but it can be extremely tricky for some women to juggle an events career once they have a family.
“The job usually involves frequent travel and evening and weekend work which, without an employer’s support, can be difficult to manage if you have young children to care for.
Because of this, women sometimes end up leaving the industry; one of the many reasons why it’s men who tend to hold senior positions within events firms.”
There may also be an element of imposter syndrome in the mix. Male-orientated corporate culture and lack of inclusion can lead to women questioning their abilities or even make them feel like frauds.
Also, if a woman – or anyone else in an underrepresented group – doesn’t see anyone who looks like them in the upper echelons of their workplace, it’s not surprising if they don’t feel welcome.
These problems are clearly illustrated by the Colour of Power index 2020 statistics, which show women still hold only 26.2% of top jobs across all industries in Britain.
And in 2018 the Young Women’s Trust said maternity discrimination was experienced by a shockingly high 43% of mothers.
Face the issues head on
All of this makes for uncomfortable reading. But how can you and your business tackle these difficult issues?
A good place to start is to establish policies for fair pay and good work/life balance – and ensure managers support and adhere to them.
Childcare facilities and vouchers and family-friendly policies also offer valuable support to both men and women caring for children.
“It’s really important to provide training to raise awareness of gender equality, inclusive language and fair behaviours,” says Alex.
“You can ask women in senior positions to act as mentors and take every opportunity to celebrate the successful women in your company, both internally and externally.”
Of course, these issues don’t solely apply to women. It’s widely acknowledged that the LGBTQ+ and black and Asian communities are also under-represented throughout the events industry.
Alex says: “Even though there’s clearly a problem here, for some reason there remains a reluctance to confront it. Perhaps some people find talking about and tackling it uncomfortable, or fear saying the wrong thing and causing offence.
“But, again, unless the industry as a whole is open about this and proactively does something about it, then absolutely nothing will change.”
The first positive step you can take is to health check your business’ culture.
For example, you could create a safe environment and ask your LGBTQ+ and BAME employees about their experiences, then find ways you can create a more inclusive work environment.
You can also help bring more diverse employees into your business by checking your company marketing is inclusive – job hunters will notice if they aren’t represented.
Finally, make sure you advertise jobs on social media using groups and hashtags followed by the diverse talent you want to attract.
“It’s important to measure the impact of any changes you make so you can be transparent about what you’re doing and also refine future strategies,” Alex says.
“Our industry spans every sector which means we’re in a prime position to lead the way on diversity and inclusion.
“Let’s finally turn all the talk on this issue into action and start to make a meaningful difference.”
Kina Events can help you create diverse and inclusive events. For more information or help planning your events, give us a call on 0207 205 7901 or send us an email.
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