We like to think of ourselves as a developed country, for which institutionalized sexism and gender inequality are a thing of the past. The statistics, however, tell a different story. Women represent over half of the UK population, but less than a third of our MPs1. Women now account for 47% of our workforce, a greater proportion than ever before, but statistics imply that men still take up the vast majority of high profile jobs, with only 6% of executive positions in the FTSE 100 held by women2.
More worrying than this, is that according to many studies the gender gap is now growing again, rather than shrinking. A recent report by the World Economic Forum found the UK has now fallen out of the top 20 most gender-equal countries in the world for the first time in our history. Average wages for women in the workplace fell by £2,700 last year, and we now lack behind Nicaragua, Bulgaria and Burundi in the list of those societies where women and men have the most equitable life chances in education, work and health3.
There are, however, some industries which are exempt from this backward trend. In Heather McGregor’s recent Management Today article: What Glass Ceiling she pointed to the UK’s top universities as examples where female CEOs are increasingly providing role models and leadership opportunities4.
The Higher Education sector is not alone. If there is still a glass ceiling in the Event Management industry, we feel confident that we are close to breaking it. At NYS Corporate, women outnumber men 5:2 in our Senior Management Team. Speaking to our Finance and Commercial Manager, she confirmed that she has never felt disadvantaged as a woman in the Event Management industry:
“As many women are leaders in this industry it is very female orientated, we all know how to do our jobs to achieve goals, and women are generally good at building relationships, which helps in this sector.”
Nicky Traynor, Finance & Commercial Mgr, NYS Corporate
Perhaps Event Professionals are well placed to act as ambassadors for women in business. Thanks to the high proportion of women who excel in this industry, we can implement a progressive work culture that encourages success and entrepreneurialism, married with a work life balance. Doing so could be exceedingly advantageous for all concerned. Research has estimated that the untapped potential of women in the workplace could be worth £23 billion to the exchequer2.
“It’s an absolute fact that we should be promoting gender and ethnic diversity in this industry. You have to create diversity because diversity will increase profits.”
Samme Allen5, SECC Head of Business Development
However, to achieve true equality in the workplace there are still issues to overcome. Research shows that the vast majority of women (69%) feel society ultimately expects them to put family ahead of their careers.2 As more than a third of women in full time work have dependent children at home, NYS Corporate feel that providing a flexible and supportive working environment that enables women to continue progressing in their career post-maternity leave is critical. In this day and age, parents and carers often feel under pressure from all sides, so work life balance is more important than ever. As Leanne Fowler emphasises:
“I am fortunate to work at a company that recognises individuals based on their talent and not their gender. I think the challenge for many organisations is attracting and keeping women at the top, and as a female our key challenge is balancing work and life responsibilities, especially for those individuals with family commitments. By embracing technology, remote working and considering a flexible working environment this can only support more women at the top.”
Leanne Fowler, Sales & Marketing Dir., NYS Corporate
So, what do you think – have Event Professionals broken the glass ceiling? What about your senior management team – are women equally represented? Take part in the debate by commenting on our Twitter page or LinkedIn profile.
“I do think it’s a very female centric industry, although that doesn’t necessarily mean there is greater equality! I doubt very much there is the wage gap that other industries have between males and females doing the same job. There are certainly a lot of opportunities and we have a handful of high profile females running event companies and blazing the trail for others. NYS Corporate offer all employees the support they need to achieve their full potential, and I have certainly never felt disadvantaged as a woman working here – not at all!”
Sharon Smith, Operations Manager, NYS Corporate
With thanks to:
1 UK Political Info, “Current Female Members of Parliament”: http://www.ukpolitical.info/female-members-of-parliament.htm
2 BITC, “Women and Work – The Facts”: http://opportunitynow.bitc.org.uk
3 Independent, Tuesday 28th October 2014, “UK drops out of gender equality top 20 after women’s wages fall”: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk
4 Management Today, September 2015: “What Glass Ceiling?”
5 Diversity Link, “Equality and Diversity to be examined in the Events Industry”: http://www.diversitylink.co.uk