Written by Stephanie Hopwood – Global Head of Client Services.
Nine years, its safe to say I have been a part of the Duuzra family for quite some time, during this time I have been lucky enough to have had the support and encouragement to take on many new roles and challenges. I am proud of the inclusive culture we have built and the opportunities for growth that we have given to people across our teams, male and female. International Women’s Day is a great reminder that the dynamics of bias in the work place are complex. We are not perfect, there are not many companies out there who can say that they are, but the most important thing is to acknowledge that biases exist and to care enough to challenge them.
In a similar spirit more of our clients are putting on events to recognise that the key to future business is to engage their female audience. This premise is to educate everyone, and the theme rings true across sectors from finance to patient care and pharmaceuticals. A virtual event I saw recently aimed to educate finance professionals about the growing role that women have in making financial decisions and the increased importance to make women feel empowered during this process.
Examples like this are an important step towards bridging the gender gap, but there is more that we can do to support and empower women attending events. Virtual and hybrid events have become the norm, but have you considered how they might be more inclusive than traditional in person meetings? A recent survey on tech conferences said that women felt more comfortable at virtual events. One female speaker was reported to have been asked to refill the coffees because she was confused for venue staff, in fact 71% of those surveyed thought conferences were ‘not designed with women in mind’ (1).
Women are still the primary carers for children and relatives which can be a disadvantage when attending in person events. In a post on LinkedIn yesterday I saw how working from home meant that a mother was able to collect her sick child from school and only be away from her computer for 20 minutes opposed to the 2 hour round trip she would have taken if she were to be in the office. By giving parents and carers an option to join from home they have greater access to events which can be worked around family responsibilities. Remote joining options also give greater opportunities to junior colleagues to attend events without the expense and time taken out of the office for travel and accommodation.
It is not all about virtual, simply introducing technology at your event can give women more of a voice. It is a sad statistic that women are three times more likely to be talked over in a work place discussion (2), and technology can bridge this gap by allowing the audience to send in questions and vote on important topics via their device.
Companies with higher diversity perform better financially (3) so it is key to give women greater access and opportunities to be heard. Modern technologies such as Duuzra also allow information to be segmented by separate demographics, which could be key to understanding the differences in sentiment within your audience. With a correlation between diversity and earnings growth (3) better visibility of this data coupled with a more conscious effort to address biases could have a direct impact on the success of your teams and businesses.