International Women’s Day is celebrated every year on March 8th to recognise the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world. This year’s theme, #EmbraceEquity, highlights the need to address the gender inequalities that persist in every corner of the globe.
Despite the progress that’s been made in the last century alone, women continue to face significant barriers that limit their opportunities and hinder their ability to fully participate in society. This is particularly true for women from marginalised communities, including women of colour, women with disabilities and LGBTQ+ women.
At Elevate we’re working to break down those barriers, supporting the incredible females within our community. From business leaders to HQ team members, we’ve been speaking to our team to discover their experience as a female within the industry, and what #EmbraceEquity means to them.
Meet Carina Filek, Global COO at Elevate Global
What is your experience within the events industry?
I’ve worked in experiential staffing for over 23 years, starting out in the field as a BA and then as an Event Manager. The latter saw me leading sizable promo teams in a range of environments and activity formats. From expos, to product demos, hostessing, sampling, festivals, production, costume work and the joys of leafleting for my very first job – you could say I’ve run the gamut when it comes to experience in being a promo staffing person. I hung up my promo tshirt many years ago and went deskside, taking me to where I am now as Global COO for Elevate.
What does equity mean to you?
Being unapologetically clear that different people need different types of support in order to thrive.
What’s the best example of female equity in the workplace that you’ve experienced?
I’m eternally grateful to have experienced equity at various points in time over my career. Having supporters that ensure my voice has not just been heard but is also listened to has been key to ensuring my experience at work has been an equitable one. More so, as a woman on a fertility journey, being able to have a flexible and supportive business, during a time that was particularly challenging, meant that I didn’t have to chose between my career and a personal life choice.
What change do you think the industry needs to make to support females?
Progress has been made, but we can do more. We need to move away from offering a ‘equal playing field’ and recognise that different people need different support. Flexible working, mentoring and talent development programmes that support women into leadership roles are a few key strategies.
What is the best piece of career advice you’ve received?
Several years ago, I was going through a career defining time as I moved into my current role as global COO. Our business had transformed at scale and speed and I was one a few people at the helm. There was an exceptional amount of pressure, albeit pressure that I put on myself, to lead the business in a way that effected real impact for our people and clients alike. I was privileged to be undertaking some personal development coaching at the time and was introduced to a mindset principle that had a tremendous bearing on me and I remember having a moment of vivid realisation.
Yes, I was a leader and people looked to me to guide them, but I didn’t need to have all the answers. It was not just OK, but more so it was advantageous to own multiple “I don’t know” moments. I had surrounded myself with incredible people and knew that this allowed me to have curious collaborations that would help us get to collective “we know” moments that were better in the long run.
Getting comfortable not having all the answers as a leader and embracing the opportunities of varying perspectives, experiences and knowledge through collaboration was a major “ah ha” moment for me that will stay with me for long to come.
On this International Women’s Day, let us all commit to #EmbracingEquity and work towards a world where every woman has the opportunity to thrive.