As someone who works in event production, I recently experienced firsthand – again – the lack of diversity in the AV production industry. While communicating – over text – with an AV production house I haven’t worked with before about equipment needs for an upcoming live concert, the person on the other end repeatedly addressed me as “sir”, highlighting the industry’s assumption that only men are involved in technical aspects of AV production.
This only reinforces the fact that the lack of diversity is a major issue, especially for women, who are often underrepresented and marginalized in leading AV technical positions. However, women are present and capable of excelling in this field just as men are. Diverse teams lead to better event experiences, innovative solutions, and role models for young women and minorities.
Eventually, I had to tell the person on the other side of the line that I am not a ‘sir’. We also found out part of that conversation that they were bidding directly on the same event, and when I asked how they wanted to handle that particular situation, they said, “we want to work with you because you’re way more organized and knowledgeable about the needs for this event that the end client is”.
Two main takeaways here. Women, although somewhat Unicorn’ish, do exist in this field. And when we’re given the opportunity to have a seat at the table, we nail it! It’s not just technical chops and hard skills that are so necessary for this field, but also soft skills, and if we can manage to outfit our teams in equal measure with a diverse workforce, imagine how dynamic, innovative, creative, and just badass that team could be!
When given a seat at the table, women can bring both soft skills and technical knowledge to create a dynamic and innovative workforce that reflects diverse perspectives and needs.
The lack of representation also fosters unequal and unjust power relations in decision-making, leading to a lack of representation of women and other marginalized groups in leadership positions. When decision-making is not diverse, it leads to a lack of perspectives and ideas, resulting in limited and one-dimensional solutions. A lack of diversity in decision-making can perpetuate existing biases, leading to decisions that are not representative of the needs and perspectives of all stakeholders. This can lead to an under-representation of diverse voices and needs, ultimately affecting the quality of whatever event we might be working on.
In the “Women BTS in Events (prod + tech)” community that I started a little while ago, I get to hear all kinds of stories from women techs on the front lines. Some of those stories are empowering, positive, and hopeful, and personally I have one of those stories myself because someone, a male alley, a long time ago, took a chance on me and gave me a seat at the table. But some of those stories are also heart-wrenching, uncomfortable, and disturbing.
Like one of the stories told by one of my LD friends that was on a show once and got scolded by the other techs on the crew for wearing makeup. Now, she was the only other female on that crew and the guys banded against her because she obviously didn’t look like them.
Having a more diverse team can lead to a better understanding of the needs of different people, back-of-scenes, and front-of-scenes, as well as our event audiences, which is an increasingly essential element of any exceptional event experience.
Diverse teams can also help companies avoid the dangers of groupthink, leading to more innovative and creative solutions to many of the event’s problems and challenges. Representation matters, and it is essential to have people from different backgrounds in leadership positions to provide role models for young women and minorities who are interested in pursuing a career in the AV production field. By promoting diversity and equity, companies can attract and retain talented women, provide role models for young women interested in pursuing a career in the industry, and ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.
I remember one time I was done with an event at the Oregon Convention Center and we were striking the AV, I was coiling some cables on stage, and we had a band, and a choir, it was a fun event for a private episcopal school in Portland, and I started talking to the lady that brought in all the large flower arrangements that catholic schools love to have dress up the stage with and as we talking, she started telling me about her daughter going to college, but wanting to learn more about sound and mixing because she started helping in the AV dept at the college and fell in love with it. That one conversation led to me offering a job to her daughter who now works as an AV project manager at Microsoft, on their WA campus.
Those are the greenlights that women need to get their foot in the door.
Promoting diversity and equity in AV productions is crucial for creating a dynamic and innovative workforce that reflects the diverse perspectives and needs of the audience. Addressing unconscious biases, promoting inclusivity and diversity of thought, and building better relationships with people from diverse backgrounds are critical steps toward creating a more welcoming and inclusive culture. By embracing diversity and equity in AV productions, we can create a more equitable and just society for all.
Understanding the importance of diversity and inclusivity in AV event productions is just the first step toward creating a more inclusive and diverse workplace. Promoting diversity and equity in the workplace is essential for a company’s success. By creating a more inclusive culture, companies can reap the benefits of increased innovation, productivity, and employee retention, among others.
The benefits of diversity and equity in the workplace are numerous and can have a significant impact on a company’s success, including some of the key benefits mentioned below:
- Increased innovation and creativity: A diverse workplace allows for a range of perspectives and ideas, leading to more dynamic and innovative decision-making. This, in turn, can lead to new products, services, and processes that can give companies a competitive edge.
- Better problem-solving: A diverse team can help companies avoid the dangers of groupthink and can lead to more innovative and creative solutions to problems.
- Increased productivity: A workplace that is inclusive and equitable allows employees to feel valued and respected, leading to increased motivation, job satisfaction, and ultimately, productivity.
- Better employee retention: Employees are more likely to stay with a company where they feel valued and included. This can lead to lower turnover rates and higher employee satisfaction.
- Improved reputation: Companies that prioritize diversity and equity are seen as more socially responsible and are more attractive to customers and potential employees.
- Access to a wider talent pool: By creating a more inclusive workplace, companies can attract and retain talented employees from a range of backgrounds, including women and other underrepresented groups.
Here are several strategic steps we can take to promote diversity and equity in event productions:
Firstly, it’s important to recognize that women exist in this field and are more than capable of excelling in it. By providing women with equal opportunities to contribute and lead, we can create a more dynamic and innovative workforce that reflects the diverse perspectives and needs of the audience.
Secondly, a diverse team can help avoid groupthink and lead to more creative and innovative solutions to event problems and challenges.
In addition to the benefits of diversity and equity in events and the behind-the-scenes AV team dynamics, it is also the right thing to do, not because I care about it. But because everyone deserves an equal chance to succeed, regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity, or any other characteristic that makes them unique.
Representation matters, and it is essential to have people from different backgrounds in leadership positions to provide role models for young women and minorities who are interested in pursuing a career in AV production.
We can also promote inclusivity and diversity of thought by building better relationships with people from diverse backgrounds and creating a culture of respect and inclusivity. This includes addressing unconscious biases and preconceptions that limit diversity and equity in the workplace.
By taking these strategic steps and promoting diversity and equity in event productions, we can create a more inclusive and dynamic industry that better reflects the needs and perspectives of our audiences. And by sharing stories and greenlights, such as the job opportunity offered to the daughter of the florist many years ago, we can help women and other underrepresented groups get their foot in the door and start making their mark in the industry.
Looking for ways to promote diversity and equity in AV productions? Join me in Vegas for ETL 2023, register below for free, if you’d like to hear more of those stories from the front lines, as well as address unconscious biases and foster a more inclusive environment for everyone.
TUNE INTO THE FULL RECORDING BELOW FOR PRACTICAL STRATEGIES TO OVERCOME BIASES AND PROMOTE DIVERSITY FOR YOUR TEAMS AND ORGS
Thank you for your interest in our talk on “Diversity in AV Productions“. If you found this topic engaging and thought-provoking, you can have the opportunity to explore it in-depth by inviting our guest speaker, Anca, to present at your internal company meeting or upcoming event. Anca will bring her personal experiences and insights to your team, offering practical strategies for building a culture of trust, honesty, and open communication while advocating for diversity and equity. To connect with us and schedule a talk, please send us a direct message, and we’ll be happy to arrange it. Check out Anca’s other topics she’s passionate about: https://treefanevents.com/event-speaker/