Championing women who influence and drive change across the industry was pivotal to this years’ IBC conference strategy writes IBC Head of Event Content Jaisica Lapsiwala. 

IBC2017 saw the delivery of a great conference programme. Lots of insightful content, candid conversation and innovative technical papers – all the things that you’d expect to see at the IBC Conference.

But one thing was very wrong. Only 14% of our speakers were female. On reflection, we were ashamed. How could we allow for such an imbalance to occur?

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IBC Head of Event Content: Jaisica Lapsiwala

As such an influential organisation and an integral part of the industry calendar, IBC has a responsibility to pave the way for future generations. The imbalance of speakers was neither inspiring nor right.

But with every problem comes opportunity. And so this year, the Content Team together with a newly formed Content Steering Group grasped the opportunity. We had to challenge the status quo, so we set ourselves the objective of increasing the proportion of women on stage to 30%.

It is easy to rely on the ‘usual suspects’ as speakers or use the excuse of a ‘limited pool’ for not securing female experts, but talent doesn’t always come knocking on your door.

So we started looking more widely for talent from across the world. And the women were there; thought leaders, innovators, strategists, creatives, engineers and more. Women with influence and flair who deserved to share their views and stories on stage.

The list of amazing women included the likes of Viacom Digital Studios President Kelly Day; Netflix VP of Business Development EMEA, Maria Ferreras; Producer Kim Jackson and Brave Bison Chief Executive Claire Hungate.

As we promoted and publicised our first handful of female talent, the momentum of women confirming to join the speaker line-up accelerated and I am delighted to say that we closed on a final ratio of 37% women on stage, a significant increase on last year.

The speaker ratio was a positive step forward and created much more engaging and relevant discussion at the conference this year. However, when we look at the broader picture of diversity and inclusion, we acknowledge that there is still much to be done.

At IBC, we are committed to helping our industry address inequality at all levels by taking practical steps. We formed a Diversity and Inclusion Group made up of internal and industry talent from companies such as Sky, EVS, ITV and Beano. One of the Group’s goals is to ensure IBC is connecting, inspiring and growing women technologists to help the media, tech and entertainment industries thrive.

With that in mind, next year we want to increase the percentage of women on stage from 37% to 50%. We also want to increase the overall number of female visitors to the Show by 20% and we want to encourage more female engineers to submit technical papers and create a more inclusive environment are all key areas of focus for 2019 and beyond.

The gender imbalance in the media, entertainment and technology industry won’t be solved by a single organisation. That is why we urge the industry to act collectively. This is our opportunity to transform the industry through diversity of thought and so this is a call for all stakeholders to come forward with your ideas and support. Please get in touch with me and talk through some ideas to help drive change.

Change happens with lots and lots of small steps but incrementally, these steps will lead to a tipping point which will result in lasting change.

Jaisica Lapsiwala is Head of Event Content at IBC