Dear colleagues, dear friends,
Beginning of February, UFI released figures stating the impact of COVID-19 on the global exhibition economy in 2020. COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the exhibition industry all over the world. However, shows are being organised again in safe and secure environments. Hopefully, with the first rollout of vaccines, we will be able to meet again, face-to-face.
As I said before, the global economy is expected to see a significant recovery this year. UFI, on its part, will maintain its focus on COVID-19 related developments, while continuing to drive industry advocacy efforts, provide regular research, expand its educational offerings, and promote equality.
Indeed, in recognition of International Women’s Day 2021, UFI will raise awareness about women’s equality in exhibitions and celebrate women’s achievements. This topic has been addressed during several UFI connects last year and will be at the centre of attention on March 9th during a dedicated session.
I am happy to state that there are more than twice as many women on the UFI Board of Directors as there were just one year ago. Women now make up 28% of the total number of Board members. For the first time in its history, since its formation in 1925, UFI had a female president when Mary Larkin headed it last year.
Figures speak for themselves: there are around 70% of women at entry level in our industry, and just approximately 10% women at senior level. Yet studies have shown that more diversity in senior management makes business sense. What can we do to help address this and encourage women to reach higher? In my opinion, we are successfully demolishing the barriers of gender inequalities and moving towards an equal representation of women workforce in exhibition industry worldwide.
This month also marks the departure of Sonia Thomas and I take the opportunity to salute her contribution to the association and more broadly to the industry. Sonia will leave the association in late March to set up her own business. Sonia has played a significant role in developing UFI’s activities and has built strong relationships with members all over the world. She has been an immense source of strength and support to UFI and its members. On behalf of the UFI community, I would like to send my warm thanks to Sonia and wish her all the success she deserves.
Marie-Laure Bellon is the new COO of the association from 1st March onwards, and I am very pleased to welcome her. I look forward to working with her. Marie’s experience in the exhibition industry will be an asset in leading UFI activities and it also proves that UFI promotes equality at its core.
UFI is here to support you.
Anbu Varathan, UFI President