Industry open challenge: More female speakers at events

Those heeding the call will be asked to account for female speakers and delegates to build reliable data for future targets and development.


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The Women in Aviation and Logistics advocacy group is calling out organisers to invite more female subject-matter experts to speak at their events, starting this year.

Women in Aviation and Logistics, an inclusive initiative pushing for gender equality in the industry, has launched an open challenge to event organisers to help redress gender balance on speaker line ups and delegate attendance at conferences globally.

The call is for organisers—private businesses, media companies and international organisations—to invite more women subject-matter experts to speak at their events, and encourage more female delegates to attend, starting this year and setting annual targets for improvement.

“We are pulling together a database of women who are experts in their field and we invite event organisers to make use of this unique resource as a solid starting point to begin making a change,” said Celine Hourcade, founder and managing director, Change Horizon.

“We are also asking for targets to be set and for organisers to report back on numbers so that we can chart progress and celebrate success.”

“We are result-oriented and we are offering a concrete solution with the database and calling for more tangible actions: we see the open challenge as a natural next step to positively embrace change, making a great impact in just five easy steps,” Celine added.

Organisers answering the call to action will be asked to make a public commitment and report back on numbers of both female speakers and delegates in order to build reliable data on which to base further targets and measure development.

“Although some organisers have undoubtedly been making progress, we estimate that on average only around 18% of speakers are women at the moment, with more than one event organised recently having not a single female voice on any of the panels,” said Emma Murray, chief executive and founder of Meantime Communications.

“We need to change that quickly, not only because we are missing out on valuable insight, but also because we must have visible role models to encourage the next generation of talent to join a vibrant and inclusive industry.”

Over 70 supporters joined the first Women in Aviation and Logistics Seminar, with keynote speaker Henrik Kofod-Hansen, co-Founder of Novosensus, who emphasised that whilst only 13 percent of senior leaders are women, research shows they make better leaders when scored across a variety of categories.

Delegates agreed that the lack of gender equality within the aviation and logistics sectors is very visible at events, in the media and in senior leadership representation, especially at the board room level.

“With no conscious decision to address the issue, it will not resolve by itself, so it is time to do something about it and join forces to reach gender equality by 2030 as part of the overall sustainable transformation of our industry,” said Hourcade.

A survey of Women in Aviation and Logistics supporters ranked collecting and sharing transparent data about gender diversity as a top priority and today’s initiative will be a start for this next action point.

“Gender equality is everybody’s responsibility: from individuals, to companies and trade associations,” said Murray.

“This is not, and should not be, a women-only issue, responsibility, or discussion.

“This is an inclusive movement, and we do, and will, proactively invite men to join us and help to push the agenda,” she noted.

Since launching the Women in Aviation and Logistics Pledge and database last week, 52 people have signed up including 13 on behalf of their organisation, and already 28 women have submitted their profile, listing their subject matter expertise. 93 percent have indicated they are open to board positions as well.

The database will be live over the coming weeks, but in the meantime, the information is available on request to event organisers who have accepted the challenge.

To find out more and take part in any of the initiatives contact [email protected] or visit Women in Aviation Logistics.



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