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“Let the unsung (s)heros shine”

Talia Sanhewe, facilitator of the first “She Means Business” conference, about diversity, the need for a dialogue and a powerful movement within the global events industry.

here do you see women’s greatest strengths?
Talia Sanhewe:
In her ability to create life, to gather and intuitively collaborate; her innate sense of discernment and her dignified strength. Our collective power as women is found in our dichotomy: within our perceived gentleness rages a fight against injustice, within our intuition lies the ruthless ability to dissect character, within our intellect lies quantum physics, algorithm’s and unicorns and as a result our voice unbridled becomes a powerful, unstoppable force. Our contribution to the world is critical because our point of view matters. We are unique and distinct by design and it’s the celebration of our diversity that brings balance.

What about diverse teams?

Diversity is absolutely essential for workplace success. Diversity translates into bottom line results, tangible and practical solutions. Diversity is a statement of intent; you have to decide to become diverse, you need to structure its inclusion and allow it to exist. Diverse teams equal better everything: ideas, creativity, solutions, productivity and return. The moment you allow a singular view to become the dominant perspective, you miss the magic catalytic ingredient that inclusion brings.

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Talia Sanhewe is a director, producer, presenter, reporter and Managing Director of Talia Productions. She has moderated Live panel discussions at the World Economic Forum, Africa and spoken at TEDxBreda in the Netherlands among others. 

Where do you see the biggest need for a dialogue?
In order to create sustainable dialogue, it all starts with targeting the executive leadership. The diversity discussion is important throughout all levels of the organisation between men and women, however in terms of tangible implementation and a real step-change, lasting impact will be seen when senior leadership begins to and decides to change.

You facilitate many congresses all over the globe. What do you think about the phenomenon of “white-male-panels”?
The phenomenon of “white-male-panels” is something I’m sadly very familiar with. I think event organisers don’t always realise the power of the platform and how vital the programme selection is. Each keynote speaker and panellist over and above their area of expertise feeds into a larger narrative that by default touches the hot topic of gender and race. To create diversity you need to consciously put in the work to make it happen. You need to find the speakers that are representing the changing face of industry. Their lack of exposure on global panels is only based on the effort to find them. It’s all too convenient to select the panellists that are easily accessible and vetted by other conferences; the step change in diversity requires work and commitment. It means extending networks and consciously giving the unsung (s)heros an equal opportunity to shine.

You are facilitating the first She Means Business at IMEX Frankfurt. Why do you think that this conference is important for the global events industry – and especially now?
Never before has the power, position and purpose of women been more important. Our voices are being amplified in such a distinct way that every part of society that once overlooked, undervalued or even dared to discredit the female voice is stepping up and reassessing its stance. "She Means Business” 2018 is perfectly timed, as it is the very first conference at IMEX Frankfurt that seeks to initiate a dialogue about women in business. I am incredibly excited to moderate and facilitate discussions with some of the world’s leading female thought leaders, because their message and unique stories are set to inspire and uplift the audience. My hope is to use this platform to facilitate an outstanding event that will in return become a valuable contribution towards a powerful movement within the global events industry.  TANJA KNECHT, KERSTIN WÜNSCH