Women at MIPIM – Let’s reframe the discussion

Whether it’s the Presidents Club or MIPIM or one of many other events which are now the focus of accusations of inappropriate behaviour, there is one thing that really peeves me about all of it – and particularly as it relates to the real estate sector. In not one article criticising the industry and MIPIM in particular have I seen mention of the many many women in very senior positions who are leading and shaping the industry.

Perhaps, instead of focusing on how we women need protecting at all times, we could focus on who the likes of Liz Peace, Melanie Leech, Jackie Sadek, Alison Nimmo, Colette O’Shea, Victoria Hills, Anette Simpson, Emma Cariaga, Louise Brooke-Smith, Rachel Fisher ( the list is very long and I could go on) are providing leadership and inspiration every day to peers and those aspiring to progress in the industry whether male or female.

Is MIPIM inherently sexist? It is a conference of around 25,000 peoplewhich has traditionally been dominated by about 80% male attendance. Of course that gives a different dynamic just as if the ratio was the other way there would be a specific dynamic.

Have women attending had inappropriate comments or behaviour directed at them at time, undoubtedly, but this is by a tiny percentage of the attendance. Show me any cross section of society which doesn’t contain people who may behave inappropriately?  I would like to be very clear, there is never an excuse for inexcusable behaviour and perpetrators should have repercussions at whatever level is appropriate. But this does not mean an entire conference is invalidated by the behaviour of a tiny few.

In full anticipation of attempts at exposes, companies are warning employees how to behave. Fine, a basic code of conduct should be pretty well automatic – and common sense. But do we really need to cancel events as is happening?

Personally, I find the (thankfully rare) occasions where people I am working with are clearly uncomfortable working with me because I’m female, or don’t listen to my views in the way they would if I was male, far more problematic.

Can we please move the debate on from what men should and shouldn’t do, to what women can and are doing and make that the way we show support for women? This is far more likely to change dynamics in the future – putting women off joining an industry by claiming the whole thing is rotten, is the absolute opposite of progress.

Reframe the discussion – it is far more progressive and reflective of the many brilliant things that many brilliant women are doing in the industry.

I for one will be raising a glass with colleagues male and female celebrating the brilliance of women this week at MIPIM.