A version of this post previously appeared on EdelmanDigital.com
Similar to the woes of Hollywood, tech is one of the most affected industries when it comes to a lack of diversity and inclusion. For many years, attending SXSW would mean watching countless panels featuring male executives asserting their opinions to the captive audience. The change to include more women has been happening slowly over the years, and many female leaders have been at the helm of the movement. But this year, there was an underlying bravery, and acknowledgment of this challenge, that has never been so prevalent.
Panels, events and featured speakers included confident, intelligent women who provided brilliant POVs about all topics tech, marketing, education, diversity and so on. Panels felt more balanced and the “voices” of the major moments carried through an undertone of equality like never before. This year was a moment when women unapologetically stood up to offer their opinions, bravely injected themselves into the conversation and most importantly, stop saying “I’m sorry.”
Having started my career in technology, the #metoo movement has given greater permission and a greater platform for not just women, but everyone who ever felt excluded, and this feels like wonderful progress. And as an advocate of diversity and inclusion, I’m thrilled we have a platform and set of role models committed to keeping the movement alive – well beyond the walled gardens of Hollywood.
I give this year’s SXSW a “B” for being more conscious and looking critically at the representation of female and minority inclusion. But we can still do better. We must remain steadfast in our commitment to giving everyone a platform to share their voice in every forum.
Jess Clifton is U.S. Head of Digital.