Working to End ‘Manels’

Manels – conference panels made entirely of men, are a common sight in all countries and on all continents. That’s why organizations like Brussels Binder, Manel Watch USA, Ireland, EU exist. In Poland, now there’s BalansPl.


Patrycja Sosnowska-Buxton speaking at A Happy Woman conference, Poland at
Letia Business Centre (photo by
Katarzyna Jaworska)

The question is: how is it possible that the world where 51% of the population are women, they are rarely seen as panelists, presenters, and experts? It definitely isn’t the lack of women experts but the lack of thinking and seeing women as such which translates into not inviting them to take part in events. Harvard Business School has recently published a study by Colleen Ammerman, that clearly shows that if women don’t see other women in higher positions then it’s almost impossible for them to imagine themselves as being leaders, so they don’t reach out for these positions. Seeing is believing.

Ending Manels – photo by
Katarzyna Jaworska

It is important to note that equal representation of women and men in business, conferences and company boards isn’t only a great PR decision, it’s a strategic business decision as well as a smart financial decision for every business. Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director of IMF, argues that businesses with greater numbers of women, on every corporate level, are more productive, have better growth and what’s also interesting is that men in such organizations earn more. Female experts have worked very hard to earn a seat at the corporate table, they deserve it.    

As the co-founders of BalansPl, we have got fed up with this status quo, we have decided to take matters in our hands. That’s why we have been presenting at a number of conferences to raise awareness of conference organizers, business and public organizations that women are largely absent from public debates and that this needs and can be changed. We also want to show other women that their expertise matters and encourage them to step up and speak up.

Up to date over 400 female experts have been added to the database, and conference organizers reach out to us for names of women to present at events.

BalansPl is a non-profit foundation, based in Poland, that makes sure Polish female experts are equally represented in business, at conferences and public life through the practical tool, such as the female expert database and through active support of women experts. The foundation has been cofounded by Marta Klimowicz, Katarzyna Mazurek, Agnieszka Mlodzinska-Granek, Bogumila Sobiczewska, and Conversari Global consultant Patrycja Sosnowska-Buxton.

We believe that organizations can build their future now by focusing on customer experience, harnessing relationships at all levels, and creating cultures of innovation. Around these three pillars, we work with organizations and teams to help them align their strategy, leadership model and communication style.

We design tailor-made consulting and training programs to help create congruent cultures and high-impact teams, demonstrating ROI in productivity, image and effectiveness.

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