The other day I saw a Hungarian venture capital conference promo on the internet that had 21 speakers. 20 men and 1 solitary woman. The next event I bumped into was a Fintech conference in Budapest with 46 speakers. 40 men and 6 women. This is slightly confusing, aren’t we in 2020? Or is it America in the 60’s as depicted in the series Mad Man?
I shall take the liberty of assuming that there are more than one (or six) women in the country who are competent in or great experts on the topics concerned, with relevant experiences and useful insights to offer. I wish we didn’t have to talk about this anymore, but these are just two examples from the thousands which prove that indeed, we have to. Especially, because these examples showed me how little has changed in my field in the past five years. In 2015, Elle UK magazine decided to launch their #MoreWomen campaign with a powerful set of before and after images: first, a picture of the people actually present at the scene, followed by a second image with all the men edited out. See the original photos here. There is a reason I chose one of these pictures as illustration: it seems like we’re not making much progress.
In the Stockholm Fintech Guide 2020 supported by Invest Stockholm, we discussed the importance of equality. It is one of the strongest driving forces in the Swedish ecosystem, and it is beyond doubt that no ecosystems can thrive in its absence. Speaker selections like the above occuring on a regular basis, is one of the immediate signs that scream about the need for improvement and we have to act on that. So far I haven’t expressed my personal views in public, but I have been approached on this phenomenon in private so many times that I can’t even count them. It’s not hard for me to see why, calm waters are not really to be expected for an entrepreneur and a CEO at the meeting point of law, tech and investment.
Truly achieving diversity is a long road, with almost indestructible building blocks and obstacles on it made of concrete. Obviously, that road and mostly how far it has already been built, differs from country to country.
We, at KassaiLaw, having many projects throughout Europe can see these differences on a daily basis. However, regardless of the location, one thing has become very clear over the years. For many reasons, the progress leading to a material change cannot be awaited and expected to just drift down from above. We also have to go deep down, very consciously to the core of the issue to reach the individual elements and pieces. We women and men, who nowadays form these ecosystems in which diversity remains a huge problem, lag behind the times by ages. We have to examine and understand our individual stories, the small steps that have brought us to where we stand, the circumstances in which we find ourselves, and our observations and considerations of those details. We never should forget, however, that we also have to act very responsibly, leading the conversations with constructive suggestions, not resentment or anger.
Since I am fairly tired of having to raise my eyebrows every single time, I start searching through the upcoming events in my field, I have decided to do my tiny bit and examine the topic from some of my own perspectives. Today’s piece is the first installment of a #girlboss campaign in which we have gathered some great, truly inspiring women and men for some discussions.
We are all responsible for the future we want to live in, and every single voice is relevant on the road that will take us there.
What does true diversity mean to you?