Ahead of this year’s International Women’s Day, Friday 8th March, Imani Forbes-Reeves, Sales & Events Coordinator for live music venue Troxy, tells us what being a woman in the events industry means to her.
“Sorry, you’re wasting your time – you don’t have enough experience.” That was the first thing I was told when trying to apply for a job in the events industry. I had just worked hard to complete a degree in Events Management and Hospitality and had a real burning passion for the events industry.
The comment that came from an event industry recruitment agency was enough to put me off my search for a role in the events industry for life despite having enough experience. My interest in events started when I attended The Spirit of London Awards with our local youth group. Attending the awards opened my eyes to how much work that goes into just one event. Intrigued by this, I worked with the local council and the youth group to develop a course for young people in our community to learn skills that complement the events industry, in media, AV, hospitality and event planning.
Together, we put on several events for the young people in our community and I enjoyed it so much that years later I decided to complete a degree in Events Management & Hospitality.
The encounter with the recruitment agency only made me work harder to land a job in the industry. Shortly after, I started working for Troxy – something I consider to be one of my biggest achievements to date. I love that no day is the same but most of all I love seeing the events come to fruition.
However, from my small amount of time in the industry, I still realise there’s equality issues that need to be addressed. 75% of the industry is made up by women, but only 20% are in top-level positions and for this to change we need to empower women to the executive positions.
As a young woman in the event industry, I am sometimes conscious that people do not take me seriously. However, I do not let this hold me back from voicing my ideas and opinions – it’s really important to hear everyone’s views to ensure we’re delivering the best possible service to our customers at Troxy.
Furthermore, I am cautious of the humiliating stereotypes such as ‘women can’t have a family and work in events’. This is absurd. Women have successfully balanced their career and family life for decades and it should be no different within this industry. If anything, we need to support, empower and encourage mothers and females in this industry as standards are consistently rising and pressures are building to deliver the best event.
Thankfully, I work amongst a very supportive team at Troxy who allow me to grow as an event professional and encourage me to follow in other industry leader’s footprints; diversifying the industry, bridging the gender gap and inspiring the next generation to succeed – which is what being a woman in the industry means to me.