Can we see the end of ‘Male, Pale & Stale’ panels?

All too often we see publicity brochures for conferences, seminars and other events with a speaker line-up that has a startling sense of deja-vu. Diversity is at the forefront of many industries now, particularly following the #MeToo movement and the Presidents Club debacle, so the days of all-male speaking panels should be on their way out.

If you are working for society as a whole then you ought to find your panel of experts from society as a whole – ideally to encompass diversity and representation of your clients.

In the construction industry, The Association of Women in Property are working hard to ensure that women in the industry – who are often equally qualified as their oft-quoted male peers – are as visible as possible, and equipping them with the skills to feel capable of participating in panel discussions and conferences.

Research has shown that women typically do not feel as confident in speaking up in front of a room full of strangers, not least when those strangers work in the same industry. So the classic panel discussions and debates is one where many women do not offer themselves up for participation.

Women in Property recently held a sold-out event in Bristol with specialist media training company Mentor Media Training, to equip 30 senior women in the construction industry with skills and confidence to participate in future panels, with the aim to work towards the end of the ‘Male, Pale & Stale’ panels.

Made possible by sponsorship from Atkins, Gleeds and ISG, the session was a resounding success. Zoe Price of ISG, event sponsor, said: “Training sessions designed to upskill and increase confidence in public speaking, including panel discussions, are vitally important. Our industry panels should reflect the diversity within the workforce and we are proud to champion and support Women in Property with this training.”

The training session, frequently used by journalists and politicians to teach them the intricacies of dealing with difficult questions, left the room buzzing with excitement about the prospect of participating in future panel debates. Kelly Hillman of Homes England said: “I am proud to work for an employer who recognises the importance of diversity and inclusion- Homes England will no longer participate in all male panel debate events.”

Participants were invited from senior levels across a wide spectrum of the property and construction industries, and included representation from the public sector, private developers, housing associations, contractors and private consultants.

Victoria Head, event participant and Associate Director at event sponsor Gleeds said: “We at Gleeds want to support our female team members to feel empowered to make their views and opinions heard and this training was the perfect vehicle for this. We are supporting our teams to keep equality and diversity high on the agenda in every part of our business and this includes identifying training that would support a more equal workforce in our construction industry.”

Future panels on the property and construction industries in the South-West should now have no shortage of confident female participants with real expertise and added value to both enhance the debate and provide representation of our society.

Alan Jarvie, Director of event sponsor and hosts, Atkins said: “Atkins are very supportive of having a diverse and inclusive workforce and industry. We should all have the confidence to challenge where there is not an acceptable and equal balance.  It is essential to provide training events like this to ensure we have well represented panel speakers and for the Women in Property Members with the right skills and knowledge to be available for panels and events. We were delighted to sponsor and look forward to seeing all of the attendees on panels in the near future.”

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