International Women’s Day gives us the opportunity to celebrate the incredible female members of our dynamic and ambitious team, and also provides a chance to reflect on the ways in which we practically go about supporting women throughout the events industry.
A cause close to our hearts is Fast Forward 15.
This not-for-profit mentoring scheme was set up by Fay Sharpe OBE in 2014 in recognition of the struggle women in the event industry face in finding advice and support in career planning. In an industry with 75% of the workforce being female, this wasn’t reflected in the proportion of women at the top level, with fewer than 20% of leadership posts filled by women.
Last year we were honoured to be able to support Fay in hosting the FF15 annual graduation event in June 2021. Not only was it exciting to be welcoming so many event professionals to the venue for a positive and uplifting event in the first moments after lockdown, but it also gave us the chance to be a part of the exciting stories of the hard-working mentees and their mentors.
Our Commercial Director, Jonathan Read is taking his support for the initiative one step further and is one of the mentors for the ’22-’23 intake. He’s looking forward to working with his mentee in the coming year. “I’ve long been an admirer of the work Fay does in the industry and with FF15 in particular, so I’m delighted to be able to share my 30’s years’ experience with mentees. As well as helping to set business goals, I think it’s crucial to also talk about work/life balance. One of the great things about Fast Forward 15 is that it isn’t a one size fits all approach. It’s really focused on the individual and finding the best way forward for them, as well as building confidence and learning how to find their niche.”
“On this International Women’s Day I would like to encourage all women to pay one act forward, whether it’s a kind word to another woman, being empathetic to another’s situation, buying a colleague a coffee, asking how someone is and REALLY listening, encouraging another to set a positive goal or just being kind to each other,” says Fay.
“I look at what’s going on in the world and I think we all need to be the change that needs to happen. You might think, how can I impact something? But with every deed, every thought, every action there is an outcome – let’s make that a positive one.
“In our industry we are so lucky that so many people are willing to give their time effort, space, food and support to help others, none more so than Fast Forward 15’s good friends at Tobacco Dock. Working with them is a dream, nothing is too much trouble and it makes my job of planning our Graduation Event seamless.
“This year Tobacco Dock Founder and entrepreneur, Jonathan Read volunteered to be a mentor and we are delighted to have him on the 22/23 cohort. Having men like Jonathan who embrace and support our movement is inspiring and he stands up for diversity, equality and to be part of the solution.
“Today take one step: a big one or a baby one it doesn’t matter. Be unapologetic, be confident and believe in yourself.”
If you are a female in the event industry, you still have a chance to apply, but you’ll need to be quick about it as the deadline is on the 10th.