Today I acknowledge and celebrate my fellow female professionals and the role of Women our wonderful industry.
I am Managing Director/Creative Director of Livestock Productions (LP) – an entertainment and production agency launched in 2009. Like many, I chose to work for myself in order to ensure that my ‘day-to-day’ is flexible enough to accommodate both work and family life. I appreciate and understand the tough choices for women in all industries – events by no means being the exception.
As a woman working in the competitive, continually evolving Events Industry (17+ years and counting!!) my work, family and social life is entwined in the fabric of the social and cultural melting pot that is London, but also spans the length and breadth of the UK – and occasionally abroad.
We at LP are in awe of the creative female talent that contributes so vitally into this industry. Without the high number of female clients and artists, with whom we enjoy a healthy mutually supportive relationship, I wouldn’t have a business. Without them, we wouldn’t have the pleasure of delivering so many exciting projects that traverse the medium of video, film, TV and events. These ARE amazingly talented women, a number of whom juggle both home and professional lives – striking the balance between children, partners, tough deadlines and challenging hours.
I am proud of the work LP has done with a diverse portfolio of artists and venues. We are privileged to count clients such as the BBC, Heineken, Hot Sauce Productions, Liverpool Victoria, and Deloitte amongst our many clients.
LP appreciates the support we receive from many women within the industry. As in other vocations (and this is a vocation!) contributors make observations that are not always positive, and I’m sure it is commonplace to hope to have the opportunity to change things for the better during our professional life.
I am disappointed to acknowledge that I have had to defend the rights of artists on a number of occasions over the years. Ruthless clients don’t think twice about overlooking health and safety recommendations, or dismissing contractual obligations. Whilst this is a behaviour not particularly limited to any specific gender, I would really like to see it eliminated from the industry.
As an example, LP was recently contracted to provide entertainment at a high end event for the online gambling industry. A large number of hostesses were booked (not through LP!!) to entertain male guests at this event, alongside our fantastic programme of entertainers. The safety of our performers at this event was compromised through last minute changes imposed that constituted a clear breach of contract.
It was quite distressing to see the main perpetrator was not the end client, but a female representative of a fellow events agency involved overseeing the event. We know that our regular trusted clients would never dream of disrespecting artists’ rights in this fashion, but it is always really sad to see that some big event companies feel that this practice is appropriate.
In instances like this I can’t help but feel that the over-looking, over-working and under paying of women has been so prevalent for so long that there is a tendency in some individuals to over-compensate. An ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ mentality.
Many performers risk personal injury every time they offer their skillset up for the entertainment industry. Clients who put pressure on performers by ignoring the guidelines presented are compromising the artists’ well-being and the success of their event. Their justification is that the ‘client gets what the client wants’, even though quite often this demonstrates a total lack of understanding of the art form in question.
Are we as a society (or industry) cultivating a complete lack of empathy for our fellow professionals? Are professional boundaries and respectful appreciation of fellow professionals eroding? Does perceived gender inequality play a role in this?
The treatment of women employed to host similar events to the one cited above, has received mainstream exposure through the recent coverage of The Presidents Club event at The Dorchester. We at LP applaud the fact that there has been an exposé into the fact that event organisers (and clients alike) felt it acceptable to turn a blind eye to the harassment of women booked to entertain predominantly or exclusively male guests.
Labour MP Jess Phillips (pictured below) – who is a representative of the Commons Women and Equalities Committee put it perfectly when she said ‘This is a horrendous example of rich men acting with disgusting entitlement’ *.
We see this behaviour a lot in the events industry, and many people in events and the wider world are calling for a reinstatement of Section 40 of the Equality act where employers lawfully accept responsibility for an employee being harassed by a third party, such as a customer (the section was repealed in 2013)
We assume that employers would take increased responsibility for the safety of their (female) employees in these kind of environments more seriously under section 40 of the act, making this kind of shameful atrocity less likely to happen.
Every day, but especially International Women’s Day, is an opportunity to step back and assess the validity of some of the norms that we all live with as a society. If we can work together cohesively to challenge preconceptions, the benefits are unimaginable.
What better place is there to start changing the status quo than in the work place of our own industries.
*Source: On-line Evening Standard Article