Late-Night Reflections on CONNECTIONS 2018 and Diversity

by Tricia Parks | May. 29, 2018

Parks Associates is a women-owned business, founded more than 30 years ago, and has actively advocated for diversity in a traditionally male industry throughout its history. This was long before diversity became the “in” issue for opportunistic journalists.

All efforts towards a more diverse environment start at our own company. Our executive roster is 50/50 male-female (or perhaps we should say 50/50 female-male).

Parks Associates’ commitment to a diverse environment continues with our events. While we receive hundreds of speaking submissions for fewer than 100 positions, less than 10% come from women. So, we recruit.

At the 2018 CONNECTIONS Conference:

  • Two of our four keynotes were women: Patti Loyack of Comcast, and Dr. Melissa Gregg of Intel.
  • 48% of our sessions had at least one woman participating.
  • Without counting Parks Associates’ female employees, 30% of our regular sessions had at least one woman participating. That is more than double the representation of women executives in our industries.
  • We have as high or higher a proportion of women participating in Parks Associates’ sessions as any conference in our industries anywhere in the world.
     

We seek diversity at our events and it is not always easy to accomplish. Our industries are increasing their efforts to diversify their leaders; however, there is not an overnight fix to having women executives with a history of rich experience and insights. Experience takes time.

The use of social media to discount men participating at our event was very uncomfortable for our organization. It is one thing to push for diversity and another to be disparaging towards those who are participating just because they are men. I can’t help but think of all the missed opportunities to cover the women who did participate at the event or the woman-led organization producing the event.

Please let me be clear: I defend values important to me for which I stand and for the business I have led in a male-dominated world. Diversity is one such value. I’ve personally vested in it for myself and others. Parks Associates will continue advocating for diversity. That does not mean accepting bullying or misinformation. Nor does it mean disparaging men.

We are always willing to hear constructive feedback or suggestions for improvements. Stacey Higginbotham’s actions met neither of those conditions. We will continue to lead in diversification efforts.

Tricia Parks, CEO and Founder
Parks Associates


Tags: CONNECTIONS

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