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.