The average percentage of women in executive committee, director or board positions within the FTSE 100 Hospitality, Travel and Leisure is 32%
The average percentage of women in executive committee, director or board roles within the FTSE 100 Hospitality, Travel & Leisure is only in the order of 32%, according to 2020 PWC research.
While this low number may surprise some, this disparity will not surprise anyone who has ever looked below the surface of gender within this workplace.
The event planning industry doesn’t seem to succumb to gender inequality at first glance, particularly given that women make up more than roughly three-quarters of the workforce according to our own research.
However, the percentage of men in the event management industry increases significantly with levels of seniority.
So even though there are more women working in the event management industry and therefore in leadership roles than men in general, the premise of gender disparity is still very much in evidence.
We have to be better when it comes to gender equality.
That is why IBTM has now carried out research on gender equality within the event management industry.
Drawing from a global sample of 2,000 people working in the event management industry, we found that 76.9% are women. An industry dominated by women, you could say.
Women in leadership within the event management industry
From our global sample, it appears that the number of men within the industry increases as we move up the seniority scale.
For example, in junior executive positions, the gender ratio of men and women is 1:5 respectively, with only 17% of the workforce being men.
However, as we move up in seniority to manager level, the gender divide evens out to men who make up 19% of the workforce.
And, as we reach leadership levels with roles such as directors, this percentage increases to 37%.
So on the surface, there are still more women in leadership roles, yes. But what if we dig a little deeper?
Well, what’s interesting about this is when we look at the percentage of each gender at the different levels of seniority.
When it comes to gender, men within the event management industry are more likely to fill a management position than women. Of the sample, only 16% of the women included were at this seniority level compared to 32% of the men.
Five tips for creating a more diverse and gender-balanced workplace
Gabrielle Austen Browne, founder of the Diversity Alliance and co-founder of the Diverse Speaker Bureau, has shared her vision and thoughts on how to create a more diverse and gender-balanced workplace. Gabrielle is a multi-award winning diversity and inclusion expert, providing consulting, education, training and impactful initiatives for the events and hospitality sectors. She regularly writes about DEI for a variety of industry publications, is an industry judge, and speaks at Diversity & Inclusion events.
#1 Make sure everyone understands and models inclusive behaviors.
One of the most important aspects of creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace is ensuring that everyone in the company, from employees to board members, understands and models inclusive behaviors.
But we’re human, Gabrielle says, so we’re not expected to know everything right away.
Education is key.
People often require some level of training on the different forms of bias that can exist, as well as how they can remove it from organizational practices and business processes, such as recruiting and talent development.
Only when everyone is on the same page can you begin to create a truly inclusive and diverse work culture, concludes Gabrielle.
At the end of the day, all of these strategies require time, resources, and budget to implement, as well as the commitment of those in decision-making positions.
#2 Make sure diversity is reflected at all levels.
There is no point in talking for the sake of talking if you are not walking the path. Diversity must be reflected at all levels, even at the top.
If there is a lack of diversity in leadership positions, you need to address this and come up with a plan to change it.
An effective way to do this is by collecting data to compare those who are underrepresented in leadership positions.
It may also be helpful to enlist the help of an outside consultant or freelancer to facilitate these conversations and encourage greater openness, honesty, and a plan of action in data collection and use.
#3 Reflect on the recruitment data and assess the gaps.
Who is applying and/or shortlisted for leadership positions? Are the applicants on the short list balanced in terms of background, gender, and other diversity? Does it reflect the kind of work culture you’re looking to create? Gabrielle asks.
If not, look at their hiring practices and data. Ask yourself, could there be bias in the job description? Could there be bias in the interview and selection process?
Are there patterns between those who accept job offers and those who don’t? Was there a salary difference, for example? If the answer is yes, Gabrielle says that it is good practice to develop an inclusive recruitment practice to address this issue.
#4 Look at gender gaps and normalize conversations about it.
When it comes to these diversity and inclusion gaps, like an unbalanced leadership team, skewed practices, or a gender pay gap, encourage people to talk about them.
Problems won’t go away if we ignore them and will only contribute to low productivity, motivation and retention in the long run, according to Gabrielle.
Another way to approach this is to carefully monitor feedback and exit interview data for any patterns that emerge when it comes to issues of gender or potentially underrepresented groups.
#5 Establish initiatives that will create a more gender balanced workplace.
But not everything is data processing and discussions. To create a more diverse and inclusive workplace, you need to establish initiatives that contribute to this, says Gabrielle, with examples of mentoring or women’s leadership programs or a talent development plan that will directly support those looking to move up to leadership roles.
Similarly, Gabrielle advises that organizations and businesses create a feedback process that monitors team members’ progress and provides frequent feedback.
For example, at RX Global, we have established a ‘Women in Tech’ mentoring scheme and a Gender Equity Committee.
You can see more information about it here.
Gender pay gap within the event management industry
Taking a sample of UK-based event management companies with 250 or more employees, we found that, on average, women are paid less than men across the industry. 12 pence less per pound, in fact.
For every £1 men receive, women are typically paid 88 pence for the same position.
This drops significantly when looking at bonuses, with women receiving 55p for every £1 received by their male counterparts, according to figures we’ve found.
In all the companies analyzed, except the first one, the percentage of male employees who receive a bonus was higher than that of women. Higher position holders are generally more likely to earn bonuses, so these statistics underscore our finding that men have a greater opportunity to hold a higher level position than women.
This is a concerning finding as, according to a PWC report, 36% of women admitted they would leave their workplace if they felt there was not a fair balance between how hard they work and the compensation they receive.
Additional figures in this PWC research also highlighted that 43% of female millennials feel employers are too biased towards male employees.
With all this in mind, it is important to address other broader issues that could be preventing women from taking leadership roles and which could be affecting the gender pay gap.
Realistically, it is believed that the main reason women “walk away” from the workplace between manager and director levels is to have and care for children.
This often leads to part-time work and, as a result, lower wages and bonuses.
It can even lead to a complete loss of job roles, with research highlighting that up to 54,000 women may lose their jobs each year in the UK as a direct result of pregnancy or childbearing according to a 2015 study by Equalities and Human Rights. Commission.
It goes without saying that the gender pay gap widens after women have children, but this could be reduced if men and women could share childcare more equally.
For example, initiatives like ‘Shared Parental Leave and Pay’ allow working parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay during their child’s first year.
Initiatives like these give women the opportunity to balance family life with a fulfilling career.
The opportunity for diversity, equality and inclusion to create a more innovative events industry for the future
Kim Myhre, one of the world’s leading design thinkers and thought leaders, shares his experience of over twenty years and his vision of how diversity, equality and inclusion offer the opportunity to create a more innovative industry.
Kim is the founder of Experience Designed, a strategic consulting and creative idea generator that aims to create more immersive, engaging and transformative brand experience strategies across live and online channels.
The topic of diversity and equality is not new to the meetings and events industry by any means, Kim says. It has long been known as a ‘female-dominated, male-led’ industry.
But, in recent years, the issue seems to have acquired a new sense of urgency.
During the global pandemic, many event professionals were forced out of the industry and hiring new staff and new skills was put on hold.
And now, as the pandemic-stricken world of events prepares to “build back better,” the industry finds itself with a shortage of staff to fill and new talent with new skills to find.
It is also in need of more diversity and inclusion practices designed to attract and retain a more socially conscious workforce.
However, the real opportunity for DEI in the events industry is not about reconstructing the past,
instead, it is about moving towards the future of the events industry.
Increasingly demanding and digitally enabled audiences and the emergence of new experience technologies now force us to explore ideas outside of our ‘comfort zone’ of traditional events.
A more diverse and interdisciplinary mindset and approach requires a rethinking of what ‘experience’, ‘ideas’ and ‘expertise’ mean, thus creating haphazard and collision-prone environments and even challenging our own views on what works best.
However, the concept is simple.
Just accept that we don’t know what we don’t know and that there are experiences and insights found in diversity and inclusion that can deliver amazing new insights and ultimately even better results.
Inviting DEI into the discipline of event design can lead to the discovery of new ways of thinking about what is possible for a more exciting and inclusive event industry future.