Business leaders have been forced to examine the biases and diversity within their businesses due to global protests against injustice and racism. The meetings and events industry is poised for major changes. Many event organizers ensure inclusivity is a part of every event. They choose diverse speakers and reach large audiences. Others have blind spots, leading to far too many events in which Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC) are underrepresented.
A survey of 1,000 event planners conducted by Meeting Professionals International revealed that 60% identified obstacles to inclusive events planning, including limited time and budgets and leadership support. Respondents to a survey about how the industry meets the needs of diverse groups said that ethnic minorities, non-traditional religious people, and introverts were the most underserved. Respondents agreed that diversity and inclusion training needs to be improved.
We must all work together to make the industry truly promote racial equality. We had conversations with experts from the Black community to compile this list. This list outlines seven ways that the industry can promote diversity inclusion, and you can start the process right away.
1. Locate BIPOC speakers
You have a diversity problem if all of your speakers are white.
It all boils down to research. Although there are always BIPOCs available on any topic, they may not be widely known. Shantel Young, Convene’s senior production manager, advised that you should do extra work to locate them. She recommends consulting lists of minority speakers, such as Great Black Speeches. “If there are people in a room that are all of one race, think about who you can bring to the conversation to offer a different perspective and change the narrative.
2. Identify your racial bias
Ask attendees to survey organizers and determine the current status of racial bias at your event.
3. Diversify your leadership
Diverse teams can lead to different ideas, which in turn drives innovation. Diversity must start at the top.
4. Make it easy to have difficult conversations in a safe place
Your meeting or event attendees should feel free to talk about race and other sensitive topics. It would help if you created a safe environment for this to happen.
Young stated, “Set ground rules for how to approach certain conversations.” “Allow people to be themselves and express their true feelings.
5. Assist minority-owned businesses in partnership
The industry must do better in partnering with minority-owned businesses, from suppliers to caterers to networking events. For a conference that will host thousands of people, it is good to partner with a local minority business.
6. Spend your money on philanthropy and ditch the swag
Swag is sometimes pretty useless. Thumb drives and sunglasses that are too small end up in the trash. Donate winter coats and backpacks to schoolchildren. It can be very helpful to use your swag to help a local charity.
7. Do not be greedy
Many business leaders truly want to see real change. Some are only lip-service to the cause. Being genuine always wins.