A Discussion About Diversity

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diversityAfter all this time—and endless discussion—why is diversity still not a given in this industry?

Why is it that so many associations and supplier organizations in our industry—where women are overwhelmingly the majority—have male leaders? Why are the speakers chosen for so many keynotes and panels primarily white and male? And why do we have to keep reminding meeting organizers about diversity? 

We have never quite gotten to the place where we no longer need to have this discussion. Many men want it as much as women do—just not the ones making these decisions.

Annamaria Ruffini, CIS, CITP, CMP, past president of the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE), decided to tackle this issue in her native Italy—and called for a boycott of meetings where the faculty is exclusively male. Under her leadership, a team of women leaders in Italy launched a Manifesto, asking that industry members boycott all meetings and events where the speaker faculty is exclusively male and request the inclusion of other women on any panel discussions they are asked to sit on. They also brought to the forefront the fact that there continues to be an income gap between men and women in the same roles in our industry. 

I’m so proud of them, but we have much further to go. And of course, diversity issues extend far beyond women—that’s just one road on this journey. 

What can you do? Consider writing to event organizers when you see the same names slotted for a spot on stage, and insist that there must be a capable woman who can share that same message. Join one of the many women’s groups in our industry and see if you can move this issue forward with their help. Speak up on social media! 

Prevue has teamed up with Visit Dallas for a webinar this October, where we will explore ways of instilling diversity into our meetings. Consider destinations like Dallas that make diversity one of their pillars—in actions, not just words. 

Let’s keep this issue alive until we no longer are forced to sit in a sea of women attendees at an industry event and wonder why everyone up on stage is a white male. 

You can register for our How to Design a Truly Diverse Meeting webinar here.

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Barbara Scofidio is Editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In her 30 years in the industry, she has become known for her passion around greening meetings, growing awareness of human trafficking and promoting CSR activities as part of business events. She is currently a member of SITE's Women IN Leadership committee and the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee. She was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of SITE for 30 years, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. Before joining Prevue in 2014, she served as Editor of Corporate Meetings & Incentives (MeetingsNet) for more than 20 years. She has a BA in Literature/Rhetoric from Binghamton University. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.