On Tuesday I went to the BIMA (British Interactive Media Association) startup seminar hosted at Google Campus, in collaboration with Rackspace. The panel was a great mix of large companies and startups, who all have experience relevant to those starting up today. The panel of speakers included John Webb from Rackspace, Benjamin Southworth, deputy CEO of Tech City, Joe Stepniewski founder of Skimlinks, Damian Routley the CEO of Glow, Jean-Michel Deligny of Go4Venture, Alex Wood, the editor or Tech City News, Drew Benvie founder of new comms agency Battenhall, and the chair Justin Pearse of Bite. However, it was rather hard to ignore that all eight members of the panel were male, and indeed, so was everyone who spoke on stage, including the welcome speech from BIMA and the closing remarks from Rackspace. This was picked up on Twitter Candace Kuss and Karen Barber, and then mentioned at the very end of the session by Craig Le Grice, the Executive Committee Member of BIMA.
I got in touch with Craig who said that "Benjamin Southworth and Joe Stepniewski were fantastic additions to our panel - but both were in place of their respective female CEOs (Joanna Shields, CEO at TCIO and Alicia Navarro, CEO at Skimlinks) who were invited first but unfortunately could not attend due to diary commitments."
Craig went on to say that "Speaking personally, I'm a huge advocate of - and fighter for - equality in our industry. I work with a number of startups and actively encourage diversity and the building of companies based on talent, regardless of gender, race, sexuality etc. I welcome the day when no woman attends a technology or digital focused event and feels she's at a boy's club."
This situation is clearly not ideal, especially as there are more than enough women who could at least match the experience on the panel. However, it is positive that people are realising that an all male panel is no longer neccessary or acceptable, and hopefully, these all male events will become a thing of the past. In the mean time, check out these future BIMA events and get involved in the discussion.
- 6 June - BIMA Thirstday (an event held every month on the first Thursday)
- A networking event for anyone involved in digital. Every member is invited so the group is always a diverse mix.
- 24 July - Digital Hall of Fame
- A formal ceremony to honour the five new inductees to the Digital Hall of Fame, and the inaugural BIMA Hot 100 list of digital's biggest talents. The '100' list is voted for and so represents a great cross-section of the industry.
- 12 September - The BIMA Awards
- BIMA's annual awards, recognising the best of the digital industry, are in September. The call for entries is open now and the judging panel has been announced. Check out http://www.bimaawards.com/judges.php to see the great mix of judges.