Last Thursday, I went with about 6,000 others to the OurCrowd hi-tech investor conference. It was full of people in high frequency networking mode talking about disruptors, autonomous machines, instant scaling, guerrilla marketing, and creating the next Unicorn exit, etc.
And then I looked at the program and wondered, how cutting edge and disruptive is it going to be? And I did something very low-tech. I counted. There were 55 speakers listed. Can you guess how many were women? 8. 8 out of 55. That’s 14 percent. And as some sessions, like the hackathon, were run by other men not formally listed, the stats are worse. Now, this is not against OurCrowd. They may have made a concerted effort to impact this imbalance. They may well have made a concerted, guerrilla effort to balance their program. And they are in good company. This is just what happens.
But you have to ask, how did we get here? How does it happen that in 2017, that is just what happens?
Here’s how. Two days ago, I ran a presentation training workshop at a school in Binyamina. Like in every mixed workshop that I have ever run, the boys volunteered first. There is a direct line between who has the confidence to volunteer, who speaks up, and who is on the dais at your next conference.
And here’s why it matters.
It’s wrong. Inclusion and representation are at the heart of social justice.
It’s wrong. Inclusion and representation are at the heart of economic justice.
It’s bad for business. According to Forbes magazine (2016), diversity ensures greater business opportunities. So, it’s also stupid.
Increased representation on the panel is the next real disruptor of the way things have always been done.
So, what can we do about it? Here’s how we can help.
- Speak out when you notice an imbalance.
- Make your networks available so that capable members of underrepresented groups get noticed.
- Strengthen yourself so that you can speak out, stand up and be heard about issues you care about.
Last night, I went to a fabulous event organized by the glorious Molly Livingstone in support of Turning the Tables — an organization that teaches fashion to prostitutes, so they can sell their skills and not their bodies. It was a celebration of women’s voices and bodies. There was acro-yoga, song, stand-up, advice and beer.
I wonder how long it will take till the next OurCrowd conference looks a little more like MyCrowd there last night.