Got a panel with only men? Expect "feedback" | Women's Agenda

Got a panel with only men? Expect “feedback”

Have you heard of the All Male Panel Tumblr? It’s an incredibly popular online phenomena that is gaining momentum every day. Its premise is simple: it highlights all-male line-ups anywhere an everywhere around the world. On conference programs, at events, in leadership groups. If a panel doesn’t include women, chances are it will land on this prolific website.

Its popularity is explained by two things. How prevalent all-male panels are and how tired men and women are of them.

No all-male panel represents the population and no all-male panel can deliver diversity of thought. No all-male panel can resonate with the relevant employees, customers or stakeholders the group serves. Why? Because in 2015 there is not a single company, country or body in the world that has no female employees, members, customers or stakeholders.

And what is the purpose of any conference, convention or event if not to resonate, inspire and challenge its stakeholders or demonstrate a group’s prowess as a thought-leader?

Excluding women from a conversation of decision makers and thought-leaders, undermines the value and utility in that conversation. And yet the phenomena of engaging only men to discuss topics – big and little – at conferences everywhere continues. But there is pushback on this and, thanks to the internet, the intensity and visibility of the pushback is amplified.

Last week one of our most read-pieces was the post Andrew Grill wrote about giving up his seat on an all-male panel for a woman.  As he said, how can a panel that is comprised only of men of a certain age and demographic demonstrate value to the audience? It couldn’t, but rather than simply accepting that Grill took action. He stood up and instigated change. The resounding feedback we got from his piece was gratitude that someone was willing to show leadership on this issue. Not simply talk about the fact it needs to change, but do something to make it change.

Earlier this year we criticised the all-male line up that was used to advertise The Australian Financial Review’s “future of wealth and banking” summit. The advertisement was not merely a symbolic problem – though having no women in a line up is of course quite symbolic – it demonstrated a substantive issue. What part of the future of anything are women going to be excluded from?

(These are three images we have been sent today alone.)

Any group that fails to consider the inclusion of women significantly undermines its credibility to discuss – let alone lead – a conversation about the future. Given the proven value diversity delivers, what conference or company would not seek to have some diversity of thought among its line up? It’s a question lots of men and women are now asking. As a result a day barely passes where we aren’t directed to, or sent an image of, a conference with an all-male line up.

Like the All Male Panel tumblr we will highlight these conferences often. Not because we want to create difficulty for conference organisers, but because we want conference organisers to think about the message they want their event to spread. Unless the message they want to send is that they value the ideas of middle-aged men of a certain background to the exclusion of all others, it’s worthwhile including some diversity among speakers.

If staying off the All Male Panel tumblr is what motivates groups to include women so be it. I have no doubt the resulting events with  greater divsersity among speakers will speak for themselves.

Please feel free to send us any images you take of all-male line ups at contactus@womensagenda.com.au with All Male Panel in the subject line. 

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