Well what a fantastic way to launch the EWL Club!
We can safely say that our first ‘Women in Events’ lunch on Friday was a great success.
The event was attended by 10 event professionals from a variety of industry organisations that included CIPFA, FreemanXP, Eventopedia UK, Insource London and Visionnine Group and we were joined by Annabel Weeden, Director of Women in Business Matter.
The lunch got off to a great start with a spot of networking in the opulent Boyds Brasserie Bar and Lounge, where guests were treated to a choice of canapés including; cauliflower cheese croquettes, baked mushrooms with aged cheddar and sticky chicken wings all washed down with a couple of glasses of champagne (and mocktails).
Following the networking guests sat down to a choice of seared fillet of sea trout, chicken breast wrapped in ham and a roasted tomato, purple sprouting broccoli and devon brie tagliatelle.
The topic of conversation on the agenda was ‘Women in Events’. As 75% of the events industry is made up of women it’s certainly an important subject and particularly with the increased focus on equal pay and the recent launch of Fast Forward 15 so we were expecting some good debate.
Our guest Annabel Weeden kicked off the conversation by introducing us to Women in Business Matter, an initiative that she herself started recently. Women in Business Matter is an organisation set up to connect, support and celebrate the remarkable careers of all women in business. A community who discuss, challenge, juggle and generate momentum for change and challenge the status quo.
Annabel thorough her work in executive search could see there was a need for change. She saw people taking breaks, dropping out of careers and losing confidence and she wanted to set up a support network that would bring talented people back to the workplace.
Her introduction fired up a good debate with many things discussed including the challenges of balancing a career whilst raising a family but also importantly not just the challenges for women with children but also for women who don’t have children and people’s perceptions.
Flexible working was also discussed and the implications for women and men but also businesses, and particularly peoples perceptions of working hours, the question of “is it Ok to leave the office at 5?” generated a lot of comments around the table.
Other areas were touched on including equal pay but importantly women’s aspirations were discussed and the importance of mentoring not just for board levels positions but for all career levels. Annabel even suggested looking for inspiration from women who may be 5 years ahead rather than many years, therefore someone who may be easier to relate to and, mentoring for all was also discussed, not just for women but men too “everyone needs a mentor”.
The lunch came to a close with a discussion on the importance of continuing the conversation and of taking baby steps, women and men together, to foster change on all matters related to gender equality. Nothing is going to change over night and there may still be a long way to go but with a little education and conversation the possibilities are endless.
A very successful first lunch and as we conclude with the comment about continuing the conversation we will be holding more ‘Women in Events’ lunches in the future… watch this space!