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Incoming AEO chair calls for improved diversity

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Incoming chair of the Association of Event Organisers, Hyve’s Julie Driscoll, called for better diversity in the industry at the AEO Excellence Awards.

The AEO’s second female chair in more than 100 years, has called for the exhibitions industry to improve diversity.
Hyve divisional managing director Julie Driscoll, who takes over as chair of the AEO in September, said the industry had been “a little lacking” when it came to diversity and inclusion as she opened the AEO Excellence Awards on 24 June.

Addressing the great and the good of the industry at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel she said: “Let’s face it over the last 100 years as an association we have been a little lacking.

“I will be the second female chair of the AEO in 100 years when I take over from the brilliant Carina Bauer.

“My hope is that the next 100 years sees a step change. I have a sneaky feeling that the AEO’s very energetic Diversity and Inclusion group will push us all to make this happen.”

The ceremony saw Olympia London managing director Nigel Nathan honoured for his outstanding contribution to the industry, with members commenting on his passion, determination and commitment since he started in the business as a porter for a show at Wembley Conference Centre, aged 16. Clarion Events executive chairman Simon Kimble presented the awards via video.

During the event, Driscoll also announced plans for the AEO, working together with the AEV and ESSA to improve the industry’s profile with government – starting with a reception in Parliament in October.

“We want Government to finally understand the economic value we the exhibitions industry brings to the nation,” she said.
Driscoll also pledged to help the exhibitions industry improve their sustainability credentials.

She said: “The AEO awards exists to recognise the achievements of the last 12 months and what a year it’s been. It strikes me that everyone here shares a unique bond, in that we have all lived through an unprecedented time together during Covid much of which, quite frankly, we do not ever want to repeat. What I suggest we do take forwards is the incredible collaboration, the thinking differently, that I have witnessed between organisers, venues, and suppliers. We have helped each other in ways that I never thought was possible.

“The AEO has been at the beating heart of this collaboration and is itself evolving, with a focus on public affairs, diversity, and sustainability.”

Chris Skeith OBE, chief executive of AEO, praised his team for working tirelessly behind the scenes to “drive change, support and insight.”

See all the winners and more pictures here. 

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