Viewpoint: Supporting Women, Diversity Councils Protect the Future of AV Industry

Jennifer Goodyer
(Image credit: Future)

The AVIXA Women’s Council saw a total growth of 13 percent in 2021, now counting just over 1,000 members worldwide. Pro AV and tech women’s councils have been established and are thriving throughout our industry from organizations like SoundGirls, WAVE, and the AWC. We have experienced incredible success with the emergence of these institutions with their apparent and visible powerful positive impact on our industry, but there may still be a lack of awareness or understanding of the missions and initiatives of these councils.

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Although we should be proud of the advancements made in creating more equal opportunities in the AV industry, the numbers could still be better, with less than 20 percent of the AV Industry occupied by women.

Representation is crucial to growing the future of women in our workforce, and as the studies show, women are crucial to growing our industry.

First, let us set the facts straight on the fight for gender equality. The battle for gender equality is not reserved for those overtly and directly negatively impacted by its perils; it’s truly an all-are-welcome cause. Although gender inequality may not overtly have a negative impact on your career, it’s an issue that affects all genders, not just those that are underrepresented and without equal opportunities.

It’s in the hands of today’s current AV professionals to ensure the AV industry not only maintains but continues to prosper. In order to protect the future of AV, we have to begin to create an environment conducive to success for AV professionals entering our industry.

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Several recent corporate level studies tell us that the most successful and thriving companies embrace and practice diversity and equality. Forbes also uncovered that among the 25 firms with the highest percentage of women execs and board members, researchers found that median returns on assets and equity were at least 74 percent higher than among the overall group of companies surveyed. With an increase in women entering executive positions in companies, we could begin to see a positive waterfall effect that would influence the next generation of AV professionals.

Representation is crucial to growing the future of women in our workforce, and as the studies show, women are crucial to growing our industry. Recently, a positive outcome of the Women’s Council, which would directly pursue enhancing the future percentage of women seeking AV as a professional career, was the record number of women who were nominated and awarded AVIXA AV professional awards. Because of the publicity of these awards, younger generations of women joining the AV industry are witnessing true representation—and seeing themselves not only in AV, but noticing the attainable success they can achieve in our industry.

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Through all the effort we have put in this last decade to influence women to pursue careers in AV, we find ourselves taking a large step backward with the challenges from the pandemic. According to a MetLife 2020 survey, nearly half of all women say the pandemic has had a negative effect on their career, and one in five women have completely been pushed out of the workforce. Now, more than ever, it’s important for us to embrace equality and spearhead women in our industry, if we want to see a positive change and evolve as an industry.

With already staggering low numbers of women representing the workforce in the AV and tech industries, we need to work harder than ever to fight for equality within our industry. 

It also seems common that it may not be exactly clear to everyone what we are attempting to accomplish through our initiatives and events. Yes, AV women’s groups mostly fight against gender inequality, an issue we believe should not just be seen as a “woman problem” or an “us versus them” mentality. Of course we advocate for equal pay for equal work, but we also campaign against sexual harassment and push for safer work environments for women.

All of these issues are extremely important, but equality and diversity are undeniably not just the responsibility for the individuals that experience their consequences, they are an industry problem and require an industry-wide solution. If you haven’t already considered supporting a Pro AV women’s or diversity council, now is the time.

Jennifer Goodyer

Jennifer Goodyer is a sales manager at RT Sales and founding board member of WAVIT.