A Post by Deborah Corn, Print Media Centr
With just a few minutes before the first, women-only panel discussion on the main stage of Dscoop ended, the audience at Edge St. Louis was asked if they had any questions. The mic goes out to the audience, a gentleman stands up. With what I interpreted as a mixture of nerves, uncertainty, and a splash of bravery he asked, “Is there sexism in the printing industry?”
The room went silent.
Up until that moment, the panel had been laser-focused on strategies to drive innovation and growth, the importance of company culture and aligning with suppliers who support and reflect their company values, workforce challenges, and sustainability.
In other words, this was a business discussion.
The panel was led by two female Dscoop Board members. There were three female panelists with major titles from consumer brands you know. Had any of the participants been male, I can’t see how much would have changed regarding the questions, and how the panelists responded about their work and responsibilities.
The panelists indicated through facial expressions and uncomfortable body language that they would be passing on answering that question. That is the correct position in a public forum when panelists are not there to discuss isms of any kind or have the legal authority to speak for a company on such things.
They could have responded from a personal point of view based on their overall professional experience; however, that is a risky move with unknown consequences. Imagine someone in the audience taking a photo of the panelist and sharing it on social media with the caption “Panelist (name) from Brand X says she experiences sexism in the industry.”
The moderators took a different approach. They responded.
The Joss Group thanks Deborah Corn and the Print Media Centr for granting permission to share this post with our readers.