At this year’s ILTACON (great conference, as always!), I popped by a hospitality suite to let them know my firm had just sent out a vendor brief for some consulting services. ILTACON was in full swing, and the brief had gone to a generic email address. I thought I’d make a personal visit to ensure they knew about it.
The experience was, shall we say, not awesome. Five – five – vendor reps stood in the suite talking amongst themselves. No introductions. No offer of coffee. No chitchat. No handshake. I was forced to blurt out my reason for visiting. One of the reps thought to maybe take my business card. I handed it over and left.
This happened at ILTACON, the biggest legal tech sales and education conference annually. In the vendor’s hospitality suite.
If reps can’t be bothered to speak to a woman offering the chance to at least feign interest in a gig, then there’s something seriously wrong.
Because, yes, I experienced this as an incredibly sexist interaction. Five reps, all men, staring and considering whether to even bother to speak to me. I wasn’t worth a coffee, a conversation, or even any follow-up questions on the chance to bid on some business.
Throughout ILTACON, I attended education sessions and walked the vendor hall, noticing, not for the first time, that there are a whole lot of experienced women in legal tech. So I’m not entirely discouraged, but I’m wondering to what extent we are not recognized as leaders, key players, and decision-makers.
The vendor brief gave consultants an opportunity for initial meetings with the project team at my firm. In turn, this gave me an opportunity to describe my experience at ILTACON and how it made me feel. Sincere apologies were made. Follow-up emails expressed remorse. I appreciated the response and was glad I had brought it up.
Then, I got back to my desk, where a conference organizer invited me – all expenses paid – to attend a conference on blockchain and fintech. I thanked the organizer noted I had just returned from ILTACON, I noted in my response, where panels and discussions on the same topics had included prominent women. Yet, this conference’s agenda had only men as speakers. I declined.