Gender Issues in Business Awards

Gender Issues in Business Awards

MTV’s recent decision to go gender neutral when it comes to their TV and film awards raised a number of questions in the world of show business but also for other award ceremonies. In the world of corporate business and entrepreneurship, women-only awards are gaining popularity and support from many multinational corporations, organisations and political associations. So what is the right way to handle the gender issue? Who is doing the right thing and is business so different from entertainment?

No More Gender in Showbiz

According to BBC, MTV dropped the male and female categories from their awards. The reason for that was an issue raised by Asia Kate Dillon from the TV series Billions who identifies as non-binary. Dillon was having trouble submitting an entry for the Emmys because the categories were gender-specific. However, due to the speedy professionalism of the MTV organisation, the issue was quickly resolved – and a lot of publicity gained in the process! 

"Anyone can submit under either category for any reason.” the Emmys explained, “The Academy supports anyone's choice to do that, and the Academy is not going to do any sort of check." 

Dillon was satisfied with the support received form the Emmys. Although dropping the gender tag was an appropriate solution for some, is it actually viable for everyone else?

The NTAs (National Television Awards) had taken similar action and changed their awards to gender neutral long before the MTV’s decision.

"A great performance is great regardless of gender and we think that dropping the male/female division has made the drama performance category more exciting.” says Kim Turberville, executive producer and founder of the NTAs.

Women Empowerment in Business Awards

Gender is of great concern when it comes to corporate business awards as well. Organisations are doing their best to promote gender equality because it makes financial sense to do so and because the law and expectations have changed. 

However, they seem to be choosing a different path from their colleagues in show business. 

Despite the effort invested in the last 50 years, women are still hard pushed according to the research provided by the United Nations. By analysing the 500 largest companies, only 5% (13) of their CEOs are women, and even manual labour in those companies consists of men predominantly.

For these reasons many awards organisations and women’s groups are trying to motivate female entrepreneurs by offering them a chance to compete in women-only categories. But is this practice actually helping women? Organisations such as Women in Business and Women In IT Awards believe that it is. 

According to Women in Business, the goal of their award ceremony is to celebrate, encourage and inspire successful and aspiring business women. 

“This campaign is not about the exclusion of men, but the inclusion of women. It celebrates and spotlights organisations and individuals who have excelled in their specific business, profession or organisation. We acknowledge the real value that diversity can add to our businesses through productivity and profitability and recognise those who are championing change.” 

Women in IT have a similar viewpoint. Their awards event is “dedicated to tackling the technology industry’s disheartening gender imbalance.” 

Although they are a new organisation, they have managed to gather support from many associations and companies whose goal is to motivate women to excel in the field of information technology. With around 1000 entries, it is the largest technology diversity event in the world.

Emma Sinclair, business column writer and co-founder of Enterprise Jungle, questions the previously mentioned practices. 

“Why are there women's-only business awards? I have been an attendee of many, sometimes as a nominee, but do they risk isolating women by treating them as a separate crowd?” 

Emma does go on and state her view that women-only events are still the best solution until women stop being outnumbered by men in the executive circles. 

“Identifying exceptional women who others can relate to via women-only awards is a step in providing the much needed examples currently lacking in many traditional award dos.” she states for Telegraph.


What is to be done?

An ultimate solution to the gender inequality problem cannot be found when it comes to award ceremonies. Every organisation has their own way of dealing with such a delicate issue. 

In the examples cited in this piece, two contradictory methods had the same noble goal of promoting equality among their contestants. Therefore, the only ultimate solution would be putting prejudices aside and starting to show respect towards every human being based on their achievements and not their gender.