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Family first

She Means Business goes to America. Meeting Professionals International (MPI) is the new partner to this conference on diversity und gender equality, and the trade association has put forward a conference theme as well: compatibility of family and career.

hile speaking with colleagues in the industry about my challenges balancing motherhood, aging parental care, and career, I found that so many of my peers were experiencing similar challenges," explained Lori Pugh Marcum. The Manager Global Education und Event Production with the MPI Academy of Meeting Professionals International (MPI) talked to Dale Hudson, Knowledge and Events Director IMEX Group, who is in the same situation – and the session 'Women in Events, The Sandwich Generation: Balancing Career and Family' at the She Means Business America 2019 was born.

After two events had been held in context with the IMEX in Frankfurt, the conference about diversity, gender equality and female empowerment has been scheduled for September 9, 2019 on 'SmartMonday' of IMEX America in Las Vegas. "Issues around diversity and gender equality are more important than ever and She Means Business will provide women in events and their male counterparts with a platform for deeper understanding and action. The launch of this new conference at IMEX America follows two years of growth and refinement at IMEX in Frankfurt," said Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group. "It’s a valuable opportunity for planners to collaborate with and learn from inspiring speakers on crucial issues facing women today and – like all IMEX education – there's no charge to attend."

A novelty is that the leading trade association Meeting Professionals International (MPI) is a partner to the event staged jointly by IMEX and tw magazine: “We are thrilled to support She Means Business – an innovative and inspiring program in partnership with our strategic partner, IMEX Group,” said Paul Van Deventer. The CEO and President of MPI emphasized: “Diversity and inclusion are at the core of MPI and we know the strong impact this program will have on our community.”

Meeting Professionals International is aware of the topics on the minds of its 17,000 members. With event management regarded as one of the most stressful careers in the world (Forbes, 2017), managing family obligations and a career can be challenging. And that exactly is in the focus of the panel “The Sandwich Generation: Balancing Career and Family,” an issue that resonates with many professionals – both women and men.
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Compatibility of family and career is a permanent challenge in the 24/7 meeting and event industry.

“I am passionate about creating real, authentic conversations and experiences for our industry,” is how Lori Pugh Marcum characterized her motivation. She added: “We have so much to learn from each other, but it is often hard to be vulnerable in asking for help or resources.” One of the women she has therefore invited to the stage is Doreen Burse, Vice President Global Sales, North America at Marriott International. Pugh Marcum: “This panel of amazing career women constitutes trailblazers in our industry who are setting wonderful examples of how we can really together to improve our work and life balance.”

Compatibility of family and career is a permanent challenge in the 24/7 congress and event industry. Work schedules are largely incompatible with family life; 80 percent of the employees are female. At the She Means Business 2019 in Frankfurt, compatibility of family and career was the elephant in the room: all reorientation in corporate boardrooms, all innovative worktime models, all new promotion programs will not be effective if too many women still feel it necessary to choose between family and career.

That reflected the attitude of 54.91 percent of women queried in the international survey 'Women in the meeting industry' conducted by the IMEX Group and the magazines m+a report and tw tagungswirtschaft. Of the factors strongly influencing women's careers, the most important by far is 'interruption of career due to maternity leave' with 58.61 percent.
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Martina Niemann, Head of Lufthansa HR Management

And that's a career brake Martina Niemann is well aware of. She is not only Head of Lufthansa HR Management, but also a member of the G20's Business Women Leaders Task Force (BWLTF). “Affordable childcare for all is extremely important to solve this problem.” She also considers it essential to significantly grow and develop the concept of Shared Leadership. It must be easier and more common for women and/or men to share a senior management position. Leadership positions in part-time work are in fact an option at, said Sarah Sigloch, Vice President Human Resources. “We have lots of options and numerous outstanding examples for women achieving compatibility of family and career. As employer, we consider it important to find customized solutions for individuals with flexible worktime models.”

The need for individual worktime models is growing, irrespective of gender. In particular Generation Y is attaching greater importance to family-friendly factors on the job. Family-compatibility is a competitive factor in the war for talent. “We need to be much more creative in finding solutions than ten years ago,” said Anke Maas, Human Resources Director of Leonardo Hotels Europe. At She Means Business in Frankfurt she hosted the roundtable 'Working time is life time: How to attract young talents with creative time schedules?'

This is an issue for Europeans and Americans alike. "The employment market is booming in North America, and job options are vast," said Lori Pugh Marcum. “Not only will companies lose female talent, they will lose all employee talent if there isn’t a level of flexibility and mutual respect for the needs of both the employee and the organization.”

Supporting Partners

Singapore Tourism, Singapore Exhibition & Convention Bureau (SECB), CCH – Congress Center Hamburg
“Affordable childcare for all is extremely important to solve this problem.”
Martina Niemann,
Head of Lufthansa HR Management