To celebrate 2023 International Women’s Day (or International Women’s Week as we like to celebrate it) we interviewed five amazing women about what International Women’s Day means to them, who their inspirations are and what the film and events industries need to do to keep fighting for diversity, inclusion and equity.
Today, we hear from Hayley Greaves, Global Vice President Operations at member event ageny Ashfield Event Experiences.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you? What do you think some of the key issues facing women in the world today are?
Honestly, I am not completely sure how I feel about international women’s day…on the one hand I feel it is super important to celebrate all the wonderful women and their social, economic, cultural and political achievements as well as driving gender parity and highlighting key issues around equality. On the other hand, I feel disappointed that in 2023 it is even a conversation. I wish it was international equality day because there are pressures from society on men too that make it harder for us all to be equal… For example my children’s school always call me first not my husband which puts the mental load on me.. but yet many of my male friends find it harder to leave the workplace for school pick up or child sickness than my female friends because there is still a pre-existing perception it is the mothers role. So to go full circle with my comments here, there is a need for a continued campaign to ensure we do make a positive difference and accelerate the change so our children will look back in history and wonder what international woman’s day was for…
My views and comments here of course come from a very UK perspective and I/we are incredibly privileged to have been born here, my ‘mental load’ pales into insignificance when we look at the challenges women across the world face. I am guilty of not doing enough about this and using my privilege and voice to do more to make change, that’s why this day and this reminder is so important.
Can you tell us about a woman who has inspired you in your life and/ or career?
I don’t think there is one single woman, I admire us all; the stay at home mums who devote themselves to caring for their children, the women who have high profile careers, the sportswomen, the scientists, the artists, the women who have overcome great hardship and the women who juggle it all! If I can say anything about women, when we come together we can be so powerful and its for that reason we need to build each other up and create a support network. I have a small but strong group of friends that I admire and who inspire me in so many ways and could not live without them.
The industry is making strides to become more diverse and inclusive. Where would you like to see it change further and how do you think we, as an industry, can affect that change?
I would like to see the mix of male female in CEO/MD/Leaders of Agencies more even; I would like to see more women in technical roles and I’d like to see more men in project management and event delivery roles. We need to do more to appeal to people from diverse backgrounds – some of the work being done in schools should help; if more agencies accepted T Level placements I think over time we would see some traction too.
What do you love about the industry, and your role within it?
The variety! No one day is ever the same. The opportunities it brings are phenomenal; to listen to more motivational speakers than most ever know of, to travel to more countries than you would ever imagine, seeing venues, staying in hotels, eating in restaurants, being part of peoples trips of a lifetime, hearing content whether inspirational, thought-leader or product-related I always find that interesting and an opportunity to learn. I love being a leader, driving change, delivering great experiences and enabling the company and our people to be the best we can be. Most of all… the people I have had the pleasure of working with; I have made some lifelong friends in this industry – we’ve been ‘in the trenches’ together and there is nothing like shared experience to create an ever-lasting bond.
What would you say to people, and especially women and non-binary people, considering entering the industry?
Do it! It takes a certain type of person. You will either love it and have a lifetime of experience for all the reasons I just mentioned or you will hate it and leave very quickly, there is no in-between with the events industry – you have to have the passion and if it grabs you, you are hooked!
Can you recommend a resource (book, film, podcast etc) you think everyone should engage with this International Women’s Day? Or a charity you think people who are able to should consider donating to this International Women’s Day?
I’ll say something light-hearted – The Man Who Has It All: A Patronizing Parody of Self-Help Books for Women – written by a male feminist.
And then something a little more serious, in terms of charity, I think Plan international do some fantastic work to support girls internationally to get an education which equips them with the knowledge and skills to raise their voices, stay in school longer and stop harmful practices like child marriage.