According to MPI, Women dominate the meetings industry representing somewhere between 70% and 80% of the total workforce. However, women remain a minority in terms of executive leadership and yet have to achieve a gender pay equity.
Then, Continuing with the interviews of the series “Women: World Leadership”, this time in Factor Meetings we highlight the opinion of a woman who is specialist in the cultural, tourism and events sectors.
She is Deanna Varga from Australia. She founded a consultancy specialising in government not for profit and SME particularly helping business understand commercialisation. Deanna is graduated from MGSM with her MBA and received a Global Scholarship to attend the 2019 PCMA Convening Leaders Conference in Pittsburg.
Deanna Varga, spoke to us, and shared her vision and perspective of the challenges faced by a woman in the events industry, as well as the role that this genre plays in this sector especially in the Asia Pacific region.
Do you think is important/necessary to celebrate the International Women’s Day?
I do believe it is necessary and as a business owner (Mayvin Global) and an individual I proactively get involved in this date. It’s important that we continue to remind both men and women about the role each play in society and that we are equal contributors and should be treated as such. The same is true for any minority group. It does sadden me that we have unconscious bias (on many levels) so days like IWD help to alert individuals and businesses to their unconscious bias. If we change one mind or one business practice to support diversity then it’s worth it.
What do you think about the women’s role in the international meetings industry?
It’s a significant one but there’s room for improvement. I attended PCMA Convening Leaders and based on my visual assessment there were significantly more female than male attendees. In this sector, women are generally the event and meeting planners – they are the ‘doers’. Where are the women at senior levels? In the Asia Pacific region we have many female leaders at the head of Convention Bureaux – Auckland, Christchurch, Sydney, Melbourne, Tasmania, Sarawak to name a few. In many cases good gender balance at the senior leadership team too (is this because of a female CEO?). However, at the Board level, we continue to have significant underrepresentation and lack of diversity (on all levels). Some with only one or two females – Christchurch for example has one female (the chair). Business Events Sydney (one female), Auckland, Melbourne (one female), Tamania. How can the strategic direction of the business events sector not be led by diverse boards, where there very basis of our sector is immensely diverse. It does not make good business sense.
From your point of view, do you think women have more facilities or challenges to develop their careers in the meetings industry?
It is about challenges. It is about unconscious bias and it is currently hindered by systems set up by males for males. So even when we talk about quotas (which I believe in) it’s a start. I come from a sales background – always trying to meet and exceed the target. If we get more women in senior leadership and strategic direction positions, then some of these challenges will be removed or balanced for both. As systems are re-adjusted with all mindsets in place. Not just a single point of view. It’s about diversity of thought – which makes good business sense.
Which has been the most challenging problem you have faced as a woman in the meetings industry?
I have worked in some very hierarchical organisations, very structured where men were in the majority of leadership positions. I was labelled «too emotional» because I passionately stood for something. I had to resign from one role because I did not agree with the decisions being made by the two men senior to me. I stood my ground against these two more senior people and was given a choice – accept their decision (and deal with the consequences) or leave. So I resigned and left that day.
From Deanna’s perspective, there is a large representation of women playing a leadership role in the Meeting Industry, however, we must continue working so opportunities are both equal for women and men.
“Women in leadership and women in senior positions is not just about women taking time out of their careers for children. I don’t have children and I have been impacted. There are many many men who support the growth and development of women through their careers. For me, it has been a majority of women who have coached, mentored or been my sponsor to help me get to the next level. I’m an ambitious, driven female working in a sector with the majority of males in the senior leadership positions – why have there been almost no men to support that growth?”
Contact: Deanna Varga
Contact: Mayvin Global