How the events industry celebrated IWD 2021

ICC Sydney, Melbourne Convention Bureau, EEAA and many more embraced the annual event.

With International Women’s Day (IWD) taking place yesterday, 8 March, the business events industry embraced the opportunity to celebrate, inspire and support women across the sector and beyond.

This year, virtual events, social media and online channels provided platforms for businesses to celebrate IWD and its 2021 theme of #ChooseToChallenge.

Here are a few of the ways our industry celebrated:

MCB pays tribute to inspiring women

This year, Melbourne Convention Bureau asked its employees to share a female leader or colleague that has inspired them to challenge their ways of thinking.

General manager of sales Beverley Williamson nominated former Meetings & Events Australia chair Kate Smith, acknowledging her “tremendous job” leading the industry body through the challenges of COVID-19.

Director of marketing and communications Jenny Mitten chose Jane Zantuck from the National Gallery of Victoria for her “ability to combine big picture thinking with an eye for detail and strong direction with an empathetic approach”.

Marketing and design manager Sandro Serio nominated Lizi Hamer, founder of youth program SisuGirls.

“Her project is a wonderful reminder that true societal mindset change is best achieved by educating future generations, championing female voices and to simply be an excellent role model in everything you do,” he said.

Read more here.

ICC Sydney’s female directors reflect on IWD

In celebration of IWD 2021, ICC Sydney’s five female directors shared key learnings from their career pathways and advice for future female leaders in this blog post.

Director of culinary services Lynell Peck said working for a great manager early on in her career taught her about the importance of knowing your audience but also believing in yourself.

“I never let anyone compromise the high standards that I hold for myself. As a leader, I have the opportunity to ensure that my decisions and actions are always undertaken with equality in mind and that I am influencing future female leaders to do the same. I encourage women to know their field of expertise and do everything within their power to excel at it. Be consistent and pay attention to the detail,” she said.

Director of business development Beverley Parker shared some sage advice for women taking on leadership roles.

“My advice to emerging female leaders is not to doubt yourself and put your successes down to luck. Trust your instincts and have the courage to speak up on matters that are important to you.”


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EEAA hosts annual IWD breakfast in new format

EEAA’s annual IWD breakfast was run as a virtual event this year, engaging with more exhibition and event professionals than ever before.

Broadcast live from Connected Event Group’s studio in Sydney, the event featured Simone Allan, social entrepreneur and founder of The Women’s Resilience Centre, as the keynote speaker.

Other panellists included Stephanie Selesnick from International Trade Information, Marie Kinsella from International Exhibitions and Conference Group and Peggy Reevell from the Australian Council for Education Leaders.

EEAA takes it annual event virtual this IWD

Following the event, EEAA board member and Connected Event Group co-founder Libbie Ray said IWD 2021 was an important opportunity to recognise the valuable role women have played in the events industry over the past 12 months.

“During COVID, ‘connection’ through tech played a key role in keeping businesses open, keeping people in touch and in supporting the mental health of many in our industry and the wider community,” she said.

“Thousands of meetings have been held online at every level of society – in medical science, in health in government, in industry and in the community – they have not been labelled business events, but without them the world would not have forged a pathway through the pandemic.

“Many women have been at the forefront of all of this and IWD is a time to recognise this reality.”

Venues and suppliers take to social media

As usual, social media provided a powerful platform for the IWD message to be shared across the world.

Events industry businesses embraced social media in a big way, to share inspiring stories, shout out the women in their businesses and demonstrate how they #ChooseToChallenge.

Audio visual supplier AV1 posted an IWD message on Instagram saying, “The incredible women at AV1 #ChooseToChallenge every day when they roll cables in ballrooms, load up trucks with tonnes of gear (literally), step behind camera lenses, operate switchers and audio desks, produce videos and call shows – all within an industry dominated by men.”


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Hyatt Regency Sydney took the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women working within the hospitality industry, in particular the women working at the hotel.

Flashback: IWD 2020

Last year on IWD, Spice asked 10 inspiring leaders from the business events industry to share their thoughts on the annual celebration and to nominate the women who inspire them everyday.

Read the full piece here.

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