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Women 1st unveils RBS deputy chief executive as keynote for annual conference

Women 1st, the initiative that aims to increase the number of women working in senior positions in the tourism and visitor economy sector, has announced that Chris Sullivan, deputy chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Group, will be a keynote speaker at its annual conference in London on 3 July..

Sullivan, who was recognised as European Diversity Champion of the Year for his outstanding work as champion of equality, diversity and inclusion across the RBS Group in 2011, will speak about his experiences of integrating diversity and inclusion into a fully-fledged business strategy over the past seven years.

Chris Sullivan commented: “Diversity in business is something I am incredibly passionate about, and I am delighted to join the fantastic line-up of speakers for the Women 1st Conference. Maximising the utilisation of talent is key to businesses; people from across all industries and all levels have a role to play in improving gender diversity. Initiatives like Women 1st are vital to helping us achieve a better balance and I am pleased to have the opportunity to share my own experience and insights on 3 July.”

Women 1st director, Simone Roche, added: “Chris is someone who clearly understands that balanced teams make good business sense, and we’re thrilled that he has agreed to join our conference line-up.  It’s vital that men are involved and on board with the idea of gender diversity as well as women – we need everyone to work together and share ideas so we can create more balanced teams at senior levels.”

To encourage more men to attend the conference, Women 1st has also announced that the first 25 men to book their place at the event will receive their ticket for half-price. The discount can be accessed by entering the code ‘MEN25’ when booking tickets at 

John McEwan, chairman at EFR Travel Group and vice-chair of People 1st, commented: “Events like the Women 1st Conference are critical to helping businesses across the tourism and visitor economy break the mould of male-dominated senior teams. I have personally attended a number of Women 1st events and found them wonderful for networking and hugely enlightening in terms of content. I would certainly recommend that men take advantage of this offer and go along to the conference.”

Women 1st has also confirmed that Jacqueline Gold, chief executive of Ann Summers and Knickerbox, will take part in an ‘in conversation’ session, hosted by women’s empowerment guru and Women 1st patron Lynne Franks, at the conference.

Other speakers already confirmed for the event, which features keynotes, panel discussions and interactive workshops, include: editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post UK and global editorial director for HuffPost Lifestyle, Carla Buzasi; fashion commentator, Caryn Franklin; CEO of Pearl and Dean, Kathryn Jacob; and high-profile psychologist, Dr. Linda Papadopoulos.

The 2014 Women 1st Conference takes place at the London Marriott Grosvenor Square on 3 July 2014. The full conference programme and booking details are available at

Women 1st was established in 2009 by skills and workforce development charity, People 1st. Since its launch, Women 1st has supported over 1,000 women across the UK through its training and mentoring services.

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