leadership, Startup Advice

Why I’m boycotting events with no female speakers

Kate Morris /

Adore Beauty Kate Morris

Adore Beauty founder Kate Morris. Source: Supplied

It’s 2018, and despite all the momentum of #MeToo and #TimesUp, women are still struggling to be heard.

I’ve noticed a rash of “manels” (all-male panels) lately at retail and e-commerce events I’ve attended, and upcoming events I’ve been invited to.

Event organisers would have us believe that despite women accounting for 80% of retail purchase decisions, they have no expertise and nothing of interest to say on any of the following:

Honestly, I think the only way you could NOT find talented and amazing women in retail to speak about all of these topics is to put a bucket on your head.

I think the truth is that event organisers are not trying, or don’t think it’s important.

Let me tell you why it’s important

For every “manel”, there’s a bunch of smart women sitting in the background, being denied the opportunity to show their knowledge and raise their profile.

For every all-male speaker lineup, there’s a bunch of hardworking women who will miss out on their next promotion or payrise because they haven’t demonstrated “thought leadership” in their field of expertise.

For every stage occupied solely by men, there are a host of amazing women who will never get a chance to shine.

For every blokefest, there are valuable insights from women that are being completely missed. Your event is actually going to be less valuable to attendees without female speakers.

This matters especially in retail, where despite there being an excellent pipeline of women in the lower ranks, they’re just not making it through to the C-suite.

This matters because the gender pay gap is still 15% in Australia, and it’s not getting better.

How can you help?

I think we can move the needle on this pretty quickly with the following:

  1. If you’re invited to an event that doesn’t give women a voice: RSVP no (and tell the organisers why you’re not going);
  2. If you’re a man, and you’re invited to be on a panel: ask how many women are on it. No women? Say no  —  or give up your seat to a female colleague; and
  3. Panel moderators: refuse to moderate a manel.

Let’s get this done. #SayNoToManels.

This article was first published on Medium

Kate Morris

Kate Morris is the founder and chief executive of online beauty retailer Adore Beauty.

We Recommend


  • bezbox

    I hope you will also start boycotting the multitude of “fanels” that have popped up recently so as not to look hypocrytical about having balance!
    And maybe, just maybe, everyone who is carrying on about how unfair it is to women, should actually take the time to check whether women were actually approached to be on the panel, but were unavailable or weren’t interested.
    A balanced point of view is essential on any issue, including this.

    And finally, get of this ridiculous gender pay gap crap please! As per the WGEA site itself “It is a measure of women’s overall position in the paid workforce and does not compare like roles.”

  • tim

    You call out the “The outlook for retail in Australia;” but there seems to be quite a few women noted as 2018 speakers. So not sure what your point of contention with this particular event is?

  • tim

    PS, what if you have a chance to hear a group interview with the President of USA, PM of Australia and PM of France, will you also boycott this?

  • Commentary2015

    Kate – you could already play Manel Excuse Bingo with these comments!

    Keep building your amazing business and stand up for what’s important to you.

    • Dimitry Rybkin

      In a way of an observation: perhaps the first step for all supporters of the cause. To ‘stand up’ by registering an account and commenting using real creds. Just saying 🙂

  • I can appreciate where you are coming from. So let’s take this further. Boycott any panels with no blacks on them, and no LGBTx, no indigenous (black or white??) or TSI folk. How far are you willing to go before you find yourself left out in the cold and uninformed? You cannot affect a change if you are not part of the process.

  • Rohan Baker

    Social Justice Warriors of the World Unite! Down with the Patriarchy.

    Or something as equally uninspiring and predictable. We can’t go a day without bashing successful men now can we.

    It’s never because its a long way to the top and you haven’t made it yet so need to work harder and smarter. It’s always simply “I deserve it now because my ego told me so”. But in reality you’re not that important yet. Call me back when you are at the top instead of complaining about it. I’ll be interested in your experience then in terms of the challenges and how you overcame them.

  • Justin Tyme

    What influence can you exert from outside the group?

  • Duncan BANKS

    Kate – please come and join us at Voxxed Days Melbourne 2018. A technical developer conference with at least 50% female speakers. Some suggested that sessions on the gender diversity challenge in technology were the way to go; our approach was just to work harder to make it happen!

  • James

    Re- Why I’m boycotting events with no female speakers! Why Not #thebestpersonforthetask! I’m a male & i work for one of the worlds largest beauty organisations, our board is OVER 50% female. I work in a team of 110 females I am the only male in the team, last month I was in a NPD launch, as the female presenter was handing out samples to observe, SHE walked straight past me and handed the next sample to a female seated next to me. I’m also in the field, I also have to present to my Clients. #thebestpersonforthetask!

  • disqus_5T2jXBEN10

    Dont worry Kate no one will miss you