According to 2022 research from IBTM, despite the global business events industry being more than three quarters female, just 16 per cent of senior roles are filled by women. Comparatively, LinkedIn data shows 42 per cent of the global workforce across all industries is female, with women occupying 32 per cent of senior roles. Juxtaposed, these statistics highlight how much worse gender-based leadership inequality is in business events.
As part of the BESydney-PCMA work, consulting firm PwC surveyed 438 members of the business events industry – 96 per cent of whom were female – in more than 30 countries on diversity, equity and inclusion.
According to the data produced, less than a third of respondents agreed that there was diverse representation amongst leaders in the industry and almost 60 per cent said that leadership roles either weren’t available to them at their organisation or that the path into leadership wasn’t clear.
The report also identified personal, organisational and societal barriers for women becoming leaders, including limiting beliefs, feeling unsupported and lack of confidence on the personal side and gender bias and stereotypes, lack of role models, implicit bias in the recruitment process, inadequate mentorship, lack of flexible work arrangements and discriminatory practices on an organisational level. Societal barriers included salary inequality, lack of networking opportunities, work-life balance challenges and the fact that the business events industry is not well-known.
“This report draws a clear line in the sand,” said BESydney CEO Lyn Lewis-Smith. “BESydney has long been an advocate for gender parity in our industry. We cannot innovate, grow and build resilience as a sector unless we are tapping into the full capacity of our global workforce.
“Whether it be gender, or ability, race, age, or any number of other factors, it is crucial that our sector challenge the prevailing status quo and embrace diversity in all its guises.”
The report is split into two parts, with the first part, already released, outlining the challenge of leadership inequality for women and a second part, to be released later this month, set to outline recommendations for steps the business events community can take to advance women into senior positions.
“The business events industry is the ideal platform to demonstrate the value that women make every day, and we need to lead by example,” said PCMA president and CEO Sherrif Karamat.
“Inclusivity and equity are not just the right thing to do, it leads to greater profitability, successful organisations, and a just society.”