How the Event Industry shows up is important – our reach is long, and our influence is wide. When people are travelling, we impact hotel staff, transportation companies, caterers, bellmen and many more. We’re Global Goodwill Ambassadors, ones whose footprints leave big impressions. The language we put on signage, our vendor choices, our thematic treatments spread by word of mouth and through social media. In designing events, we remain lockstep with our clients’ sensibilities. We stay on top of current trends, especially around virtual and hybrid solutions, but there is one area where we’re lagging… and that’s inclusivity.
Our clients know diversity matters. Social and political change has leading companies taking necessary steps to increase and improve diversity and inclusion (D&I) within their workspaces. Studies show great benefit to the practice – companies with more culturally and ethnically diverse executive teams are 33% more likely to see better-than-average profits.
As industry leaders, we should critique our own internal diversity initiatives, policies, and practices. As thought leaders and influencers, we must assess our output and how we’re influencing our vast audiences.
The topic is important and multifaceted. Below are just a few key areas to get that inclusive-thinking-cap in motion.
Diverse Supplier Program
- Create and broadcast an internal diversity supplier program for events with executive buy-in
- Establish a diversity committee (encourage diversity…all welcome!) with executive leadership
- Continually vet diverse partnerships and broadcast success stories
- Design a contract approval and signature process to drive compliance and gain visibility
- Set targets, measure progress, celebrate successes
Event Etiquette (virtual, hybrid or live)
- Create and publicize a code of conduct
- Encourage a diverse line-up of speakers across race/ethnicity, age, and gender
- Highlight a speaker/partner/employee from an underrepresented background
- Include captioning, sign language and make transcripts available post-event
- Establish gender neutral bathrooms
- Use gender inclusive pronouns (signage, badging, speaker PPT decks etc.)
- Remember to offer food options that consider religious/cultural diets (virtual gift deliveries included)
Communicate Early and Often
- Ask your client what is important to their audience
- Map to inclusivity KPIs and measure progress
- Monitor agendas and content to ensure inclusivity
- Request a debrief and encourage feedback (live and through surveys), document and improve