In 2024 we are celebrating the UN Women’s International Women’s Day Message “Count Her In”.

Brooke Perry is AV1’s Head of Production and has had a stunning five years at AV1 as a prominent leader. We’re marking this day by celebrating Brooke’s contributions to AV1. 

Brooke’s disclaimer throughout this post – The gender terms in this piece “men” and “women” are used inclusively and are not limited to biological sex.

What strategies have you employed to overcome gender biases or stereotypes in your leadership journey within the AV industry? 

When I joined the events industry in 2018 I was actually amazed at how diverse it was overall. I think it was pretty balanced in terms of my male and female-identifying coworkers, but it was very obvious that there was a divide in the types of work they were doing to put the event together. The girls were in the planning and admin, and the boys were on the tools. When I moved into the AV industry, this was even more evident. It’s notoriously a bit of a boys club, so paving the way to have more women involved in the grunt work was no easy feat. The way to overcome the stereotype and gender bias was just to prove it – that they were capable and could do anything. We kept pushing for girls to get involved in the heavy lifting, loading trucks, and training them to be technically savvy, and now they are requested over and over again because they bring a unique skill set to an event. That attention to detail, delegating and multi-tasking onsite all while lifting a 100kg tv. It’s empowering to watch.

How do you foster a culture of inclusion and diversity within your team or organization in the AV sector? 

I think that role modeling is the most effective way to foster the culture of inclusion. Having a diverse and balanced team has so many benefits, not just in regards to skill sets but also the social elements of the workplace. Life would be so boring otherwise! In my direct team, we have a nice balance of different genders, sexualities, and cultural backgrounds. I think people aspiring to move into these higher roles can see that and think “hey- that team looks really inclusive and I could see myself being part of that”. It then paves a way forward for them to be more inclusive in their own circles too.

In regards to the overall AV sector, we work with many other suppliers and AV1 often stands out as having a lot of female employees in comparison. It’s awesome. “You can’t be what you can’t see” is a reoccuring theme when we do talks with academy or tafe students also. We show them – look at these women – operating a 1000pax conference, you could do that!

AV1 has also made efforts for the workplace in general to be a safe and inclusive place for all. We have changed our bathrooms to be gender neutral, for example, and our uniforms are a one-size-fits-all style now. We put on multiple internal events throughout the year celebrating diversity- Mardi Gras, IWD, Harmony Day, NAIDOC, the list goes on! We also have our amazing People & Culture manager Alyce, who is a trailblazer in supporting and fostering change and inclusivity within our organisation.

What advice would you give young women aspiring to leadership positions in the AV sector? 

Knowledge is power. Learn the lingo, the gear and the tech talk so that you are armed and confident when someone is assuming you don’t know what you’re doing because you’re a woman. 

How do you advocate for policies or initiatives that promote gender equality and empower women within the AV industry, both within your organisation and on a broader scale? 

The squeaky mouse gets the cheese as they say. You just have to keep pushing, keep advocating for it and driving your agenda because it is really important to achieve workplace equality, especially in the AV industry where it is predominantly male. I would love to see the pay gap close and it become law that those taking unpaid parental leave are paid super. It is not an impossible task and many other organisations have brought this to the forefront or their industries and are doing it. 

What’s your favourite thing about AV1? 

The people of course! and that we have a very flexible and understanding workplace. As a mum of an 18 month who is constantly bringing home gross daycare germs, sometimes the work and home balance teeters. Having an amazing and supportive team to pick up the pieces and step in to cover each other is a big part of my success here at AV1. 

***Brooke’s disclaimer throughout this post – The gender terms in this piece “men” and “women” are used inclusively and are not limited to biological sex.

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