The story is spreading like wildfire this weekend: Successful Meetings publishes a list of top meetings industry influencers that includes 12 men, one insect, and no women.
Industry icon and influencer Joan Eisenstodt responds with a call to action and a new Twitter hashtag, #boyzandbugs. Then our friends and strategic partners Elizabeth Henderson and Mariela McIlwraith, Calgary- and Vancouver-based principals of Meeting Change, publish their own post that explains why the Successful Meetings list was wrong in principle, wrong on strategy and practice, and wrong for anyone who cares about the future health of the industry.
To recognize the importance of this conversation and help keep the momentum going, we are refocusing our #eventtable chat on Monday, April 16 at noon Pacific/3 PM Eastern/9 PM CET. We’re setting it up as an open table to talk about the issues Mariela and Elizabeth raise in their post—how any list of industry influencers could leave out the 80% who are women, and what we can all do to prevent a repeat.
We’ve come up with our own list of the industry’s women of influence (many of them with surnames that put them in the first half of the alphabet, where SM editors presumably found the first half of their list). But our coverage begins with the following declaration that Elizabeth wrote and Meeting Change published in their blog post:
Women of Influence: The Rant
We are the 80%.
We are inclusive, inventive, innovative, organized.
We are the original social media, the social revolution, the spinners of strategy.
We are the Cassandras, the caretakers of community, the key stakeholders.
We are the people who make the business of creating connections through events come true.
We are the quiet leaders and the not-so-quiet leaders. Our voice may be marginalized and minimized, but we are the majority.
We are not the fairy tale, the handsome prince, or the old boys network.
We are the women in meetings and events. You should honour us, promote us, and recognize our influence. We are the 80%, and we will not be silent.
In addition to the names that have begun circulating elsewhere, here are some of the women who have influenced the industry, influenced our practice, and shown stellar leadership in the industry every single day.
Elizabeth Henderson and Mariela McIlwraith
Our own social media manager, Jenise Fryatt, whose research and practical work distinguish her as one of the industry’s leaders in social media and hybrid events
Jill Drury, co-founder and CEO of Drury Design Dynamics, whose 30 years of strategic leadership were reflected in the spectacularly successful ISES NYC Sustainability Summit last week
Claire Smith, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at the Vancouver Convention Centre, whose ability to translate soaring vision into practical, profitable results makes her one of the industry’s best strategic minds
Sue Pelletier, Sue Hatch, and Betsy Bair, three of my colleagues at MeetingsNet—who will never show up on a competing publication’s influencers’ list, but chronicle the life of our industry with wisdom, creativity, and smart editorial judgement
Doreen Ashton Wagner, Managing Director of Alexandria, ON-based Greenfield Services, whose forward-looking approach to business relationship-building is the industry’s antidote to a tired set of failed practices based on relentless push marketing
Katie Callahan-Giobbi, who recently brought her years of industry leadership and experience to the position of Vice President, Sales and Strategic Marketing at Minding Your Business in Chicago
Carina Bauer, whose recent ascension to CEO of the IMEX Group brings a new generation of smart leadership to one of the industry’s top trade shows.
Amy Spatrisano and Nancy Zavada, principals of Portland, Oregon-based MeetGreen, are already on the Meeting Change list. But this post would not be complete without them. Co-founders of the Green Meeting Industry Council, Amy and Nancy built the organization that now stands the best chance of transforming meetings and events into an industry that is sustainable in its deeds, not just in its words and best intentions.
The strength and limitation of top-25 lists is that we’ll all come up with slightly different ones. But a list that includes no women, thereby slamming the door on four out of five in our industry? No one here can imagine how Successful Meetings would even begin to explain that. They shouldn’t even try. We would far rather see them apologize and reissue the list.