GBTA Addresses Lack of Female Representation at GBTA Denver

At the 2016 Annual GBTA Conference in Denver, many of our 2,500+ WINiT Leaders, Members, and Donors attended the convention and shared feedback and concerns.

While the comments were mostly positive, we received a notable response to the lack of female representation on Center Stage, with the exception of a paying sponsor, paid celebrity, and members of the GBTA Board.

As you know, one pillar of our mission statement is to increase visibility for women, specifically by increasing awareness and helping place more women in speaking roles at key industry events. The GBTA Conventions of 2014 and 2015 reflected a greater amount of diversity of non-paid, non-sponsored industry speakers on Center Stage, compared to 2013 and 2016 where there were no women from our industry selected as speakers on Center Stage.

Letter from WINiT Director to GBTA

Dear GBTA, GBTA Foundation Board Members and WINiT Board of Directors:

It was wonderful to see many of you at the convention.

As always, the event was well run and sessions were impactful – truly top notch.

The WINiT team and I had an amazing experience, personally and professionally and we are appreciative of your support and to Scott for permitting us a corner of his booth once again.  We could not have had a presence at convention with you.

Many of the 2,500+ WINiT Leaders, Members and Donors also attended the convention and shared feedback with us.  While the comments were mostly positive, we received a notable response to the lack of female representation on Center Stage, with the exception of a paying sponsor, paid celebrity or member of the GBTA Board.

As you know, one pillar of our mission statement is to increase visibility for women, specifically by increasing awareness and helping place more women in speaking roles at key industry events.  The GBTA Conventions of 2014 and 2015 reflected a greater amount of diversity of non-paid, non-sponsored industry speakers on Center Stage, compared to 2013 and 2016 where there were no women from our industry selected as speakers on Center Stage.

As such, we would be remiss if we did not address our Member feedback and take action to understand how WINiT can play a role in bringing more women to the stage at future GBTA and other industry events.

To that end, we would like to request a call with Christle, Donna and Mike, as well as anyone else who would like to join the discussion from the WINiT, GBTA and GBTA Foundation boards. 

Out of respect for our partnership with GBTA, we would like to discuss the current reality and request advice as to how to best approach a productive dialogue about getting more women on the stage at future events.  We have declined suggestions from WINiT Members who requested that we engage in a social media debate during the convention or other avenues that we feel would be combative and counterproductive.

The subject of increasing visibility for women will also be a panel discussion at the WINiT Annual Summit in November, where Mike, Daphne, Christle, Scott and Donna have been invited to join the discussion as featured speakers.   We are keen to learn about speaker selection processes and how industry associations like GBTA source the candidate pool for main stage speakers.   While it is clear we cannot select from a pool that is simply not diverse – I.e. Airline CEO’s – there are other topics that lend themselves well to a diverse pool of subject matter experts.

We are grateful for your support as we build momentum and work to create real change for women in the industries we serve.

Please forward this email to any board members we may have missed.

Thank you and looking forward to hearing from you.

Best,
Dawn

Response Letter from GBTA

Dear GBTA Board, GBTA Foundation Board, and WINiT Board of Directors:

Thank you for your patience in response while the leadership of our Boards worked to connect, around both work and personal travel, for multiple discussions regarding Dawn Repoli’s initial email below.  The topic of diversity and women on stage during the annual GBTA convention and other GBTA events has been at the forefront of GBTA Board discussions for the past few years.    While making progress in both 2014 and 2015, this year was a challenge.

Our focus in this area has not changed, but scheduling and availability of speakers has and continues to present challenges.  Our criteria first and foremost is to bring the best and brightest to the stage and in doing so meet additional criteria to ensure we have a diverse spectrum of speakers at GBTA events.  For the 2017 convention in Boston, we have already started the brainstorming process for both speakers and content.

GBTA will work with WINiT and other industry avenues to expand our reach and achieve the necessary balance we all desire.

The GBTA Board will receive regular diversity updates for not only convention but all GBTA events.  We will also continue to increase awareness and improve on diversity of our staff and Board of Directors.

As the President of GBTA, a business owner, and an industry buyer, I recognize how critical and important it is that the speakers in front of attendees appropriately represent the diverse thought leadership that already exists within our industry.  You have my commitment that the GBTA Staff, Board and I will continue to make this a priority.

Thank you for ensuring your voice was heard and for working with us.  Please know my door is always open for any suggestions or feedback you may have.  I look forward to seeing you soon.

Christle Johnson
GBTA President

Christle Johnson, CCTE, GLP, GTP
Vice President Travel & Business Services
Johnson Downie LLC

President
Global Business Travel Association (GBTA)

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail