Monday, 11 February 2013

The Summit, not Giles, is what we wanted to discuss

So The Summit has been cancelled. As you may know, I blogged on here a few weeks ago questioning the lineup after many people on Twitter commented that there was only one woman speaking and all speakers are employed by agencies. 

The Summit opened up, I think, a much needed debate about equality and how even in our sector, women still seem invisible at times. (In fact, the whole raison d’etre of Charity Chicks). Sadly the point about the speakers all being from agencies seemed to get lost and was never really discussed.

I think it is an equally valid point and one I would love to see debated with the same passion at some point.

Now I love a good debate and I love Twitter. One of the great things about social media, and in particular Twitter and blogging, is it gives anyone a voice. Which is fantastic. It makes it a great and exciting time to be a fundraiser, and a great and exciting time to be a person interested in the world around you. 

Giles Pegram took to Twitter to respond and I personally was pleased to see him do so. Debate is not debate when it is one sided. 

In fact, I would have loved to have seen the other speakers join in and discuss! (At least four are on Twitter at the last look).

Now the problem with Twitter is it gives a voice to anyone as long as they have the knack of commenting in 140 characters or less. It is a great place to spark debate but not necessarily the best place to finish a debate. 

Giles said some stuff on Twitter that was then incorporated into a news article. Taken away from Twitter and printed in black and white it looked pretty shocking and offensive. Put back into Twitter and in the context of short, snappy, 140 character responses it looked more like clumsy, but at least engaged, debate. 

Tania Mason of Civil Society then spoke to Giles to get his opinion - away from the Twittersphere, and in person. Giles then made some widely reported comments, for which he has subsequently apologised

Whilst, sadly, none of the other Summit contributors felt able to engage in the debate from what I can see, I do feel, and suspect many other people involved in this debate feel the same way, that Giles has been made into the face of this issue.

Giles has given so much to our sector and is great fighter for equality. The Summit, not Giles, is what we wanted to discuss. And The Summit is an example of the problem, but not the problem. There is so much to discuss and improve around the issue of diversity in our sector.  

BUT The Summit put itself out there as wanting to solve the crisis in our sector for us. That is a bold statement and one that, in this social media age, is inviting itself to be discussed, challenged and argued over. People on Twitter had every right to question the lineup and Charity Chicks had every right to blog about it.

So I was a little surprised to see The Agitator so agitated this morning that The Summit has been cancelled. The idea that asking important questions about The Summit is a firing squad seems a bit over the top to me and the comment about ‘a giant nibbled at the heels by dwarfs,’ is, I think, pretty offensive to the fundraisers out there who wanted to comment. 

But the Agitators are entitled to their opinion just as much as we at Charity Chicks are entitled to ours.

In fact the very first comment on the article is questioning how anyone can claim to be a feminist and refer to themselves as ‘chicks’. I happily call myself both a feminist and a charity chick and don’t see a problem with it. 

However we didn’t set up a blog for everyone to agree with everything we said and tell us how great we are. Criticism is an important part of helping this blog get better. 

So with this in mind, I think it is a shame The Summit was cancelled. I hope that it does happen at some point and the comments, concerns and yes, criticism, of it are taken into account and it comes back bigger, better and stronger. 

Kathryn Brooke


  1. Do you not feel that the title of your blog is somewhat sexist?

  2. Do you not feel that the title of your blog is somewhat sexist?


    Do you not feel that the above is somewhat patronising? Of curse they don't think that, they namesd their blog it!

  3. Great piece Kathryn. Lessons learned on all sides, and I am delighted to see so many in the sector taking nuanced and sensible views – above all, perhaps, continuing to give Giles the respect he absolutely deserves.


  4. Am intrigued by this debate - in my (relatively short) career as a fundraiser I have very rarely come across men doing a similar role. Our sector seems to be chock full of women. Surely there are plenty of experienced females who cld have been on the panel? Or is it the case that women don't quite reach the top? If so, sad and worrying.