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  • Alexandra Sanches Alves

International Women’s Day 2023: #EmbraceEquity

Updated: May 29, 2023

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we wanted to understand more about the place of women in the working world; and as a member of Pluto’s Live Team with a particular interest in the event industry, we looked at the challenges they are still facing, with some thoughts on celebrating women on this symbolic day as well as in the everyday working life.

First of all, it seems essential to mention that the event industry is one of the rare sectors dominated by women. According to a survey conducted by IBTM event in 2022, from a global sample of 2000 people working within the event management industry, 76.9% are women (link here).

We saw this with our own eyes last week at the Event Production Show and the International Confex events in Excel London, where the ratio of female to male event producers was clear to see.

On the agenda over the two days, we saw a series of seminars largely hosted by inspirational women. The seminars focused on sustainability, technology, accessibility and inclusivity, and even the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on the event world.

Among those talented women, we wanted to quickly highlight Sarah Zarywacz, who was one of the speakers at a conference surrounding the future of event strategy in the age of inflation. Sarah has an impressive record: a corporate event professional and marketer working in finance, she has been recognised in the CN 30underThirty Class of 2021, The Meetings Show’s Tomorrow’s Talent 2022 and WATC’s Rising Star Shortlist 2022. Sarah is passionate about driving ESG up the agenda to accelerate industry progression and innovation. She started working in events in 2019 and has built up her career within a company in the financial sector, which is still dominated by men, and where it remains difficult to be taken seriously being a young woman.[SM1] [AA2] From what we saw and heard, her confidence and knowledge completely justify her position. Inspiring!

Regarding the audience, it was also interesting to notice that men were outnumbered. Mostly female event managers (whether in-house, agency, or freelancers) were attending.

Let’s have a closer look at the Gender Pay Gap

While it is not the case in financial firms, as well as construction, automotive, civil engineering, security or technology, women are the majority in the events industry. However, even though women seem to have a larger workforce in events, inequalities remain when it comes to leading roles and salary. From ITMB worldwide sample, it appears that the number of men within the industry increases as we climb the seniority ladder. For example, when there is only 17% of men at the executive level, this percentage jumps to 37% as we get to leadership levels. And this also generates inequalities when it comes to salary.

To try to reduce the gap (the differential between the average pay of males and females within an organisation), the government of Ireland recently voted The Gender Pay Gap Information Act 2021. This requires organisations to report on their hourly gender pay gap across a range of metrics. PwC Ireland analysed the gender pay gap report of up to 500 companies who disclosed their gender pay gap details. The analysis reveals a mean gender pay gap of 12.6% across Irish organisations which have published reports in December 2022. This compares to Ireland’s latest available national gender pay gap of 11.3% (2019) and an EU average gender pay gap of 13% (for 2020), based on Eurostat data.

According to Doone O’Doherty, Partner, PwC Ireland People & Organisation: “Although the exact reason for a gender pay gap varies by company and sector, a key factor appears to be the relatively high number of males in more senior (and so, more highly paid) roles. Looking at disclosures on pay quartiles, three-quarters of companies appear to show a higher relative proportion of men in the ‘highest paid’ quartile. The more males a company has in these top quartiles relative to the number of females, the higher that company’s pay gap is likely to be.”

On the global scale, Ireland is ranked 9 by the World Economic Global Gender Gap Report 2022, and raised to the 5th position when it comes to Europe. This report also highlights that in 2022, The share of women hired into leadership roles has seen a steady increase, from 33.3% in 2016 to 36.9% in 2022. Complementing Global Gender Gap Index statistics, high-frequency data from LinkedIn for 22 countries provides a snapshot of women's representation in leadership in 2022: only select industries have levels near gender parity in leadership, such as Non-Governmental and Membership Organizations (47%), Education (46%), and Personal Services and Wellbeing (45%). At the other end of the range are Energy (20%), Manufacturing (19%) and Infrastructure (16%). While the share of women in leadership has been increasing over time, women have not been hired at equal rates across industries. On average, more women have been hired into leadership in industries where women were already highly represented.

What can we do?

There is no doubt that companies and stakeholders must act to reduce this gap and encourage equality at work, as well as in life in general.

While major action has to be made at a high level to create real change, there are small steps that we can all take to #EmbraceEquality at work:

- Participate in the #EmbraceEquity photo challenge

- Highlight women’s achievements or ideas by sharing content online via your Social Media channels or within your workplace

- Raise awareness and educate people about IWD during a coffee meeting or a lunch

- Send thank you emails to women who inspired, helped, and encouraged you

- Encourage your staff to attend events that celebrate women à This Thursday, Pluto will attend the IAPI event: “Females of the Future”. This free event will gather some inspirational female speakers and is designed to accelerate women into senior roles.

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