Our differences are what make us interesting—helping us learn from each other and grow. How do you ensure your events and meetings put diversity and inclusion at the forefront? It definitely takes strategy in the planning stage and beyond. You’ll want to proactively consider your potential attendees, and how to reach new and different people. And be aware of event decisions that may be inadvertently exclusionary.
We developed this four-part checklist based on years of experience in promoting diversity within events and meetings worldwide. Use it as a starter strategy to ensure diversity and inclusion in your future events.
Planning the event
- Outline and communicate clear internal goals for promoting diversity and inclusion at events
- Assemble a planning team that’s as diverse as the event attendance you want, and provide diversity and inclusion training to your event staff
- Avoid scheduling your event on any cultural, local or religious holidays
- Ask for ideas, considerations and connections from communities you’d like represented
- Circulate a statement of your plans for diversity and inclusion, and solicit feedback to make it better
- Well before the event, develop your mailing list and outlets for event promotion with diversity as a key component
- Review event materials for any discriminatory or exclusionary language
- Use diverse and minority-owned vendors and venues
- Incorporate a diverse range of speakers, topics and sponsors
- Use registration software like meetingsoft.com to gather as much information about attendees at registration, such as language, dietary restrictions, mobility considerations and allergies
- Ensure your event website is ADA-compliant and accessible to those with disabilities, and that ticket distribution methods don’t inadvertently exclude any attendees
- Hold a pre-event Q&A session to answer any questions and address issues
- Provide an easily accessible forum for attendees to get additional help before and during the event
- Offer financial or scholarship support and resources
During the event
- Communicate your intentions and efforts for event diversity, as well as an event code of conduct, to make it clear that the safety and comfort of all attendees is important to you
- Organize breakout networking discussions for smaller groups to encourage diverse interaction
- Consider the needs of parent attendees during the event, e.g., offer childcare and a breastfeeding/pumping room
- Provide devices and resources for the hearing or sight-impaired, such as a sign-language interpreter
- Use pre-event registration information to address any language needs, providing translators and translated versions of materials
- Account for the transportation, accommodation, restroom, seating, parking and ramp needs of your attendees
- Wearable event swag should span a wide range of sizes
- Offer non-alcoholic options at mixers and networking events
- Make sure there are enough of each dietary option to accommodate everyone in attendance
- Clearly mark access to any first aid resources
After the event
- Advertise a forum for event attendees to give feedback on the success of your diversity and inclusion efforts, such as an anonymous post-event questionnaire or survey
- Evaluate your pre-event goals for diversity and identify your successes and areas for improvement—how can you do even better next time?
- Don’t be afraid to apologize if you do something wrong, there is always room for improvement
- Provide mentorship and share your experience with organizers of other events—spread the joy!