PR conference hosts panel on how women can break through “macho culture” — without a single woman

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If a woman wants to be acknowledged, she needs to pipe up. This was the advice a male CEO gave during a panel flanked only by men.

"I asked them, ‘How are we going to fix that?'" Edelman CEO Richard Edelman said during PRWeek's 2017 Hall of Femme event. "'Either you’re going to speak up, or I'm going to have to hammer the guys.' They said, 'Hammer the guys first,' and I said, 'You speak up first.'"

If an all-male panel discusses how women can be heard in a "macho culture" and there are no women on that panel to contribute, do my exasperated screams make a sound?

Edelman was joined on the panel by Jim Weiss, founder and CEO of W2O Group; John Brockelman, global head of marketing and communications at State Street Global Advisors; and Tony Wells, senior vice president and CMO for North America at Schneider Electric.

When asked about his motivation for this all-male panel, Steve Barrett, editorial director of PRWeek Global, told Mic, "We launched the PRWeek Hall of Femme last year and one of the main pieces of feedback we had from all the women who were honored and who were involved in the event was that there was no point in having this debate without men involved in the discussion, hence the decision to have a male panel as part of the event this year".

Weiss also referred Mic to the blog post he wrote about his participating in the panel. The sentiment here is well-intended, but the irony remains: in an effort to highlight and include male allies, the panel neglected to also include the subjects of their conversation — women.

"My point on this is speak up, be visible, be vocal," Wells said during the manel. "When something is not right, let people know, because change is good."

It's true, visibility is good and so is making space for more equal representation. As Mic previously reported, there's no excuse for all-male panels. Our list of non-male panelists was limited to tech and science panels, but undoubtedly spans to panels that are discussing the best interests of women.

If you are asked to speak on a panel and you notice there is a glaring lack of diversity, advocate for more voices. Make space, especially if your advice is for women to "speak up." They can't speak up if they aren't afforded a seat at the table.

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Melanie Ehrenkranz

Melanie is a writer covering technology and the future. She can be reached at melanie@mic.com.

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