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 Priya Narain, Purpose and Impact Manager at KERB, and Co-founder of Event First Steps and Diverse Speaker Bureau.
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?
IWD is important to me as we still have a long way to go when it comes to gender parity. Whilst there have been significant strides made in improving gender equality, especially in the events industry, there are still many challenges that women face in the workplace, such as equal pay and career advancement opportunities.
Can you tell us about a woman who has inspired you in your career?
There are several women who inspire me who do a great deal to lead the way on improving gender parity in the events industry. Fay Sharp started the mentoring programme Fast Forward 15 to provide an opportunity for women to be mentored, inspired and encouraged by an industry expert for a year, with the aim of helping them get ahead with their careers. When I was on this programme myself I was paired up with Caroline Jackson as my mentor, who continues to push and encourage me to step out of my comfort zone, and remains an influential cheerleader of mine. Lastly, I am also truly inspired by my co-founders of Diverse Speaker Bureau, Gabby Austen-Browne, Felicia Asiedu and Shonali Devereaux, who always leave me in awe of their hard work, dedication and resilience. I am so driven by their ambition.
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?
There is still a lack of representation and diversity in leadership positions in the events industry. Women and people from underrepresented groups are often underrepresented in decision-making roles, which can perpetuate bias and discrimination in the workplace. As an industry, we can affect change by working collaboratively towards creating a more diverse and inclusive environment. This requires a commitment from all stakeholders, including event organisers, venues, and suppliers. By implementing policies and initiatives that promote diversity and inclusivity, we can create an industry that is welcoming and inclusive to all. I think it is important to create safe and inclusive spaces which not only allows for people to feel more comfortable but it also allows for an environment for continual learning where biases and discrimination can be addressed
What do you love about the industry, and your role within it?
I am lucky enough to wear a few different hats within the events industry which allows me the scope to pursue the things that I am most passionate about. With my role at KERB as their Purpose and Impact Manager, it allows me to make a positive impact on the company and in return, the industry, by working with a diverse range of people and setting a precedence of what should be expected from the industry.
As the co-founder of Event First Steps I can help to raise the voices of industry newcomers, create networking opportunities and provide learning opportunities that can help the next generation of industry talent to find their feet and forge their own career paths. As the co-founder of Diverse Speaker Bureau I am able to foster an environment to create a platform for speakers from diverse backgrounds to take centre stage and represent the wider world audience by disrupting tokenism.
This all leads me to the main reason why I love the events industry, because I have been given the green light to go ahead and achieve all of the above without any conflict or push back from those in the industry.
What would you say to people, and especially women and non-binary people, considering entering the industry?
The first thing I would say is ‘you belong here’. The industry needs and values diversity, so don’t let imposter syndrome or stereotypes hold you back.
Take some time to build relationships and make connections with people who work in a similar role that you are interested in. The power of an engaged network can be crucial for support and to help advance your career.
As mentioned, I have had, and been, a mentor and having this kind of relationship can be useful to help achieve your career goals.
The events industry is constantly evolving and so it is important to keep on top of learning trends. This is also true if you experience or witness any bias or discrimination to speak up about it. This way people can also learn from you too, don’t be afraid to push for change.
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?
Dress for Success is a global not-for-profit organisation that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life