AMÖI’s Publisher, Chioma, reflects
on the genesis and foundation
of the inaugural AMÖI Gender
“On both a personal and professional level, I created this conference with the unshakeable belief that when women are
excluded and marginalized, we suffer as a society. Without a true representation of women, who in actuality make up well
in excess of half of the current workforce, we miss out on diversity of thought and incredible talents and knowledge.”
Since that time, I have been thinking about organizing a conference that encompassed a diverse spectrum of multicultural, talented and accomplished females. A conference that would provide direction and leadership for women who wanted to ‘Shatter That Glass Ceiling’ by providing the kind of informative content and leadership direction that would help women as they strategized their momentum to senior leadership roles, as well as boardroom appointments. I envisioned a conference by women, for women, in a panel format featuring key women leaders as they disseminated their passion, advice and wisdom to and for the aspiring career woman..
Fast forward to January of this year at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. I was there lunching with a female colleague and once again started to bemoan the lack of diversity representation in the current conference offerings. My colleague said, “Chioma, if you feel this way, why not organize a conference?” I laughed and said, “Are you serious? I already have too much work to do just with the magazine. I do not have the time to put a conference together.” I tabled enough reasons to talk myself out of organizing a conference, but then, out of the
corner of my eye I saw a Ritz Carlton manager walking by. To me, it was a serendipitous sign; before I knew what was happening, I’d called her over and asked her, “Who do I need to speak to if I am interested in having a conference here?” I stood up, shook her hand and introduced myself as the Publisher of AMÖI magazine. By the time I knew what was happening, I had followed the manager to the 4th floor Wellington Room, where I uttered, “YES, I would like to organize a conference here in the Wellington Room of your luxurious hotel.”
I woke up the next day thinking, ‘What have I done?’ A gush of pure unadulterated FEAR overtook me as I realized that the day before, on January 8, I had committed to a long-dreamed-about conference at the illustrious Ritz Carlton Hotel, and, I had no idea what to do next. Questions abounded in my mind: How will I organize a conference? Who will I get to speak? Who will be on the panel? Who will moderate? How am I going to fill the room? And of course, how will I pay for it all?
I had never organized a conference before and I was just starting to work on the spring issue of AMÖI magazine. I felt sick and rife with chills as I moved forward with the next step, putting a deposit down on the Wellington Room and selecting a conference date. That done, within the week, I was meeting with the Catering Sales Manager, who also required a deposit. As the balance on my credit card escalated, so did my dizziness. It was a lesson in courage, gumption and following my dreams. I was not to be discouraged nor disappointed.
Once I’d made the commitment to proceed with the conference, it was full steam ahead. Eight hour days became fourteen and eighteen hour days as I strategized on how to make the AMÖI Gender Diversity Conference unequivocally unique, fresh and worth its weight in gold for the conference attendees. And what better way to accomplish
this then by inviting various ethnic individuals from different cultures and backgrounds to attend a conference that would be specifically and absolute in its focus towards helping women to ‘Shatter That Glass Ceiling’. The conference, to be held Thursday, April 24th, from 8 a.m. to noon, would be an opportunity for attendees to meet new people with new ideas and different opinions on current issues relevant to their careers. The editorial mandate, Gender Diversity- Advancing Women Into Leadership Roles – has been geared, crafted and executed to deliver these ideas as key salient points conducive to moving women forward in the workplace.
And so, the AMÖI Gender Diversity Conference was born. On both a personal and professional level, I created this conference with the unshakeable belief that when women are excluded and marginalized, we suffer as a society. Without a true representation of women, who in actuality make up well in excess of half of the current workforce, we miss out on diversity of thought and incredible talents and knowledge. When women have a chance to participate fully, shoulder to shoulder with men in senior management roles, as well as well as in the boardroom, we all, men and women, of every colour and creed, benefit both as individuals as well as a society. I welcome you to AMÖI’s inaugural conference and look forward to receiving your feedback, as we, as women, move forward and celebrate our unique contributions to the newly minted boardroom.
n both 2011 and 2012, I was invited to women leadership conferences which I attended with a friend. We were both excited to be a part of a learning experience, but as we walked into those conference rooms and looked around, I could not see anyone who looked like me. I turned to my friend and said, “Can you believe that they are about 400 women in this room and I cannot see anyone that looks like me?” (I.e. a dark, brownskinned colored woman). I felt both out of place and uncomfortable, to the point that my friend and I left the conference on both occasions.
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Founder & Publisher, Editorial Director
Chioma Productions Inc.
228 St. George Street Unit #10
Toronto, Ontario - M5R 2N5
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