Speaking Opportunities Abound for Women Business Leaders, Finds Annual Weber Shandwick Study on Top Executive Conferences
NEW YORK, Jan. 25, 2012 – Top women business leaders spoke at 218 unique events in 2011. These conference opportunities included a mix of women’s and non-gender specific forums – including CEO-only conferences, global and policy summits, and industry events, according to Weber Shandwick’s latest “Top Executive Conferences” study.
Given the importance of leadership communications, Weber Shandwick conducts global research annually on the executive leadership conference landscape. In this year’s installment, the firm examined the speaking engagements of the world’s top women business leaders, based on Fortune‘s 2011 Most Powerful Women (MPW) list (50 women executives who are U.S.-based and 50 women who are not U.S.-based).
The majority of women (69 percent) on the list spoke at one or more conferences in 2011. On average, these top-ranking women spoke at 2.7 conferences over the course of 12 months. U.S.- and non-U.S. based women were nearly just as likely to speak, confirming that women all over the globe recognize the value of conference visibility.
“Women executives are establishing their rightful place at the table, gaining greater stature and notoriety in the business world. As such, they are becoming vital members on the conference circuit, increasing participation and prominence in this powerful venue,” said Micho Spring, chair of Weber Shandwick’s Global Corporate practice.
The leading speaking forums in 2011 for these top women executives included Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women Summit, The World Economic Forum/Davos, India-US CEO Forum, Women Corporate Director’s Global Institute, the Paley Center for Media International Council Summit and the APEC Women and the Economy Summit.
A categorization of all conferences found that these executives spoke primarily at industry-specific events (e.g., World Food Prize Conference and FICCI-IBI Conference on Global Banking) and conferences geared toward job function (e.g., Techonomy and ANA Conference), followed by women’s leadership and academic forums. Our research found that the digital category (e.g., Digital Life Design and South by Southwest) of conferences crossed prominent women business leaders’ radar screens in 2011, though participation was still low. Perhaps the greater concentration of industry- and job function-related conferences hints at the importance for leading executives to speak before audiences containing potential prospects and customers.
“Executives not only personify the company but are the company’s most influential storytellers. Weber Shandwick’s new Top Executive Conferences study helps define the context in which senior women business leaders are seen and heard. The strategic use of the conference landscape to promote a company’s story is a powerful tool that when fully leveraged can move the business forward,” said Carol Ballock, executive vice president at Weber Shandwick.
You may download the executive summary here.