SITE Fights for Women Speakers

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Former SITE President Annamaria Ruffini is calling for a boycott of meetings with no women speakers.

We all have been there: meeting and incentive industry events where male speakers dominate the stage. Or worse yet, where there are no women speakers…at all.

In an industry that’s predominantly made up of women and increasingly diverse in every way, it makes no sense. That’s why Annamaria Ruffini, CIS, CITP, CMP, past president of the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence and president and CEO of Events In & Out, an Italian incentive house and DMC, decided to tackle the issue of the lack of women speakers for once and for all—and is calling for a boycott of meetings where the faculty is exclusively male.

Under Ruffini’s leadership, an industry-wide team of women leaders in Italy—representing SITE Italy, MPI Italia Chapter, Federcongressi & Eventi and Convention Bureau Italia—have joined forces to launch what they’re calling a “Manifesto” (see below). It outlines key principles for the involvement and inclusion of women in meeting- and incentive-industry events.

According to Ruffini, the reaction to the Manifesto has been positive and it even garnered some national attention, including an interview in an Italian publication. “We have received support and applause from a large number of women colleagues, who have said they are willing to help in any way.”

Is this something she hopes will take off at other industry associations? “I don’t hope it will take off…humanity has no choice,” she said. “I will work to make it happen, just as I have been working for over 20 years on another priority—climate change.”

Manifesto for Women Speakers

“Women professionals in the MICE industry in Italy commit to the following principles:

  • To boycott all meetings and events where the speaker faculty is exclusively male
  • To request the inclusion of other women on any panel discussions they are asked to sit on
  • To include and highlight high profile women speakers on the speaker roster for MICE industry events organised by the Italian Convention Bureau, Federcongressi & Eventi, MPI Italian Chapter and SITE Italy chapter
  • To create, distribute and actively promote a survey of the working conditions for women within the MICE industry in Italy and to share the results so as to correct any anomalies.”

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