I had the opportunity to attend the International Association of Outsourcing Professional’s Outsourcing World Summit 2017, which was held in San Antonio, Texas on February 19th–22nd, 2017. (I will refer to this as the IAOP OWS17 moving forward, because the International Association of Outsourcing Professional’s Outsourcing World Summit 2017 is quite the mouthful.) The OWS is an annual event that was celebrating its 20th anniversary in San Antonio. While SEBPO has attended for many years now, this was my first opportunity to personally attend.
Over my career I have attended many conferences from different industries, centered around all kinds of topics. Some were very valuable while others were, well, less so. So, you never know if the time you spend traveling, away from work and home, will leave you with the feeling that it was time well spent or…
Any frequent conference attendee knows what I mean.
I am happy to say that I left the IAOP’s OWS17 very excited and energized, with lots of great ideas and insights that I’m looking forward to sharing with my colleagues. The conference had several main themes, which included the evolution of outsourcing and understanding what the future will look like as technology and robotics change our typical services. But the topic that hit home the most was empowering women in the outsourcing industry.
The issue of empowering women has long been one that I am passionate about. I have been blessed to be born in a time and place in which my only career limitations were those I placed on myself, not the limitations my surroundings placed upon me. Don’t get me wrong, even here in the US we still need to work on equal pay and harassment issues. But I have never felt that my career choices or ability to succeed in my chosen industry would be stunted by my culture.
During the conference, a panel discussion entitled “Women Empowerment and Opportunity in Outsourcing” was a main tent event. The panel was made up of 6 women and 2 men representing various facets of the industry. As the IAOP is an international organization related to an industry that is globalized by nature, I was glad to see that they were addressing this topic head on.
This discussion had far more audience participation and random applause than any other session at the event. And this was fantastic because I would estimate that 70% of the conference attendees were men. Men from all over the globe. Men who were engaged and interested in this issue. Men who recognized its relevance. That was amazing.
During the panel discussion, many interesting personal stories about equality were told. The many contributions women bring to workforce were acknowledged and appreciated as the necessity they are. But, of course, this global issue could not be resolved in one day, in one conference, by a group of highly skilled outsourcing professionals. (If only it worked that way!) But ideas were shared. Ideas that we can use as we work to get more women into the workforce all over the globe. Starting with our organizations.
At the end of the panel discussion it was announced that the IAOP was planning to launch a special, non-geographically based, chapter. A chapter dedicated to the empowerment of women and the continuation of this important dialog.
I signed right up.