At SATE, I gave probably one of the most nerve-wracking talks of my life. Nothing gets the blood pumping like knowing you're about to step out in front of 400 colleagues, clients, former clients, people you'd like to be clients in the future, and NextGenners and tell them how we, as an industry, fall short. A few days prior, the session track chair had called me to ask about how to introduce me. At the last moment, I said, "And you can throw in there that I cofounded, with Nikky Rossini, Harriet B's Daughters, an industry group dedicated to changing the face of themed entertainment one woman at a time."
I watched nervously from the wings as the previous speaker wrapped up and Corey strode out to introduce me. When he uttered 'Harriet B's Daughters', a cheer went up in the audience – way more voices than I anticipated, scattered all over that theatre. My smile felt like it would break me in two, the nerves in my stomach stopped. I knew I had a posse out there- from across states and specialties, ages and backgrounds. I didn't think I could feel better than I did in that moment.
Oh how I was wrong. The number of people who came up to me afterwards, and who have emailed in the ensuing days, to tell me that they're engrossed in conversations around economic, racial, gender, and ability disparity and inequity; to ask for resources; to tell me how they have now been spurred to action, it's pretty much been a tear and 'all the feels' festival here at my laptop. And I have to say- it wasn't just women. Men from all levels in the industry have approached me about allyship and steps they can take in their workplaces. This whole experience, to me, encapsulates so much of what Nikky and I hoped for with HBD: to create a network of diverse, supportive women; to help people find paths to action; to affect change through seemingly small steps.
We'll have another such opportunity at IAAPA. The HR Creates: Techniques to Address Gender Issues in the Workplace workshop is Wednesday, November 15 from 2-3:15 pm. If you are willing to help run a roundtable (you do not need to be a pro or expert- we are providing materials to roundtable moderators) where we'll give people a chance to practice techniques and tools for dealing with a variety of microaggressions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org If you've never helped/participated at a conference before, this is a great opportunity to start getting some practice (and exposure). And, if you're interested in becoming more active in the industry, our speaker's bureau is starting up- send your speaker bio and headshot to the email address above. Need help with it? Drop us a line and we'll assist.
Have a great conference season, everyone!