By Corey Moss
Here is Part 1 Sharing.
A) The questions of inclusion, diversity, and even my support for women
I heard a story recently (that came out of InfoComm ’18) about a person who thinks that I surround myself with women in the industry to build a fortress in front of those who may dislike me. In the next section of this story, this person will find out how utterly dumb this statement is as I point to a blog I wrote four years ago. For any and all men who support efforts of the women in the AV industry like myself, we are like-minded, and the women of the industry without a doubt appreciate that always-needed support.
I have learned of quite a few things, even most recently, that have continued to open my eyes to these questions of inclusion and diversity – including to the level of abuse. I have three such stories, I won’t name names but let’s just say this – it’s some of the worst behavior I have heard about in all of my time in the AV industry since 1998. Men who feel that they can abuse a woman are just cowards plain and simple.
Those who continue to promote actions against inclusion and diversity will be gone soon, as AVIXA has created the Diversity Council where EVERYONE can feel comfortable being in this industry. Anyone that continues to think along such lines in terms of non-acceptance, non-inclusion, questioning diversity, etc. – along with the thought that one can ever attack a woman with words or actions (even women do this which I have heard of too!) just boggles my mind.
Many of the women I know, they’ll kick butt with intelligence, savvy, and just plain old drive and determination. I encourage women that this happens to to report these individuals.
B) The seemingly never-ending booth babes issue
Here we go again…
In 2014, those of us who were visible at the time as feature bloggers banded together to bring to the surface what for us had become an enough is enough proposition. Fellow blogger Scott Tiner, who I’ve always respected for his expertise and opinions, in November 2017 wrote #MeToo and the AV Industry. In it though, he did overlook one blog.
At the same time that these other blogs on the booth babes issue were written in 2014, I wrote AV, Women and A Bright New Day. Maybe it was overlooked by him because not only was it my take on the booth babe issue, it also highlighted women in the industry making great contributions. In it, along with interviews with well-known women – AV professionals – I made a statement:
Before we get to the interview, we as a whole show great appreciation to Dave Labuskes, executive director and CEO of InfoComm International for the bold statement (the link no longer remains) he issued not too long after the groundswell support had been established. Did he hear the noise that we had been generating in support of the women in the industry and the negative response to the use of booth babes?
Just to note, there was also a story written by Penny Sitler on the subject.
And we thought, finally, the message was loud and clear that enough is enough, over and done. I had heard of incidents where exhibitors snuck questionable content on displays, but no booth babes – at least that I knew of (maybe others did).
At one point during this year’s InfoComm, as I had waited for an executive to be ready for my scheduled booth visit, I ventured around the corner to see if there was any interesting tech to see. And then I encountered this:
The company is Reestar, and this is the company’s product (below) that the woman looking my way began to describe as I walked over. When she was no longer able to continue, the woman to her right took over.
They looked like booth babes, but maybe they were there for another reason? The other one honestly had no clue at all what she was doing there after talking with her for a minute. And yes, this visit was half purposeful to uncover what I believed to actually be happening here.
Now, I have argued for companies that have women at the booths that are well-dressed or even in thematic garb – and let’s face it, there are guys in outfits as well. This year I saw purple guys (well promoted and real attention-grabbers), and another year I think I saw guys dressed as cavemen for a theme. OK, granted I’m talking theme — however there’s no theme here, this is no doubt eye-candy designed to attract the male attendee population to an exhibitor who obviously has an inferior product to peddle.
Let me say it like this: AVIXA, please make this practice over, and done – now. If it’s not in the exhibitor’s rules and regulations, it should be – and if determined that women are too scantily clad to represent a company properly, they should be asked to leave the show floor. Or maybe it’s time for us to only see company employees at the booth (except for well-dressed badge scanners) – I guess the jury needs to be the whole AV industry on that one.
C) “By the numbers”
There have been certain scientific studies in terms of what men do best vs. women in business – here’s one outcome in terms of what women bring to the table: *
- Women like challenges
- Women are good team players
- Women are more persuasive
- Women are hard workers
The fact that a woman will accept the challenge, work better in a team environment (which is what most look to achieve), read situations well which is so utterly important, and yes… work hard have to be the factors that must garner respect. This is NOT to say that one should hire based on statistics though, one should hire based on the right person for the job – and if it’s a woman, I’d hire her every time on the spot.
I wrote this last year Google Engineer Crosses the Line On Diversity and Inclusion, and is Fired – The Right Move for Tech, and Society on the Whole – and I still think this is one of the sorriest, most narrow-minded cretins who has ever entered the world of tech and business (and I received some blowback on my opinions here). Let’s make sure his type – no matter the age – if one exists in any corner of the AV space, leaves. Any like him that may enter — one strike and you’re out, just like it happened at Google.
Thank you for reading – this story was as important for me to write as was the very first one in 2014.
Important social media sites:
Header image: On stage at the AVIXA Women’s Breakfast at IC18 (l-r) – Amanda Eberle Boyer – AVIXA, Penny Sitler – Draper, Inc., Brandy Alvarado – rp Visual Solutions, Gina Sansivero – FSR, Inc. and Cory Schaeffer – QSC.
Note: On 6/26 I made certain revisions to this story for accuracy, and attitude as well.
With over 20 years in audio visual integration and IT/computer sales and consulting, Corey Moss is the owner of Convergent AV. Corey writes for the publication and hosts/produces podcasts – The AV Life, Convergent Tech Talk and Convergent Week. He has written for numerous industry publications about AV, IT, unified communications and collaboration (UCC), cloud and software, IoT, cybersecurity and more. He has also conducted interviews with AV and IT executives and global influencers. Find him talking about a whole lot of things, tech and otherwise. On LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/mosscorey/.