Savvy business owners have long since recognized the benefits of diversity among staff. With a growing global economy and heretofore neglected consumer groups taking the spotlight as desirable demographics, there is a marked need for employees with different backgrounds, attributes, skill-sets, and points of view to help create products, services, and outreach campaigns designed to cross boundaries and reach new markets.
Modern event management firms are squarely on board with this groundswell in the corporate world, and many have taken steps to not only improve diversity among their own ranks, but to offer advice to event hosts on how to make every meeting, conference, and event more inclusive, and subsequently, more successful. You might think diversity is old hat at this point, but all you have to do is look at the news to find daily stories that prove we still need to focus on tolerance, equality, and inclusion.
How can you make this happen at every meeting and event you host? You can start by choosing a forward-thinking event management organization like American Meetings, Inc. (AMI) to help you with strategic planning, including site comparison, vendor selection, logistics, and more. From there, you’ll find there is no end to the ways in which you and your event company can up the ante on diversity and inclusion at your events.
Selecting Suitable Speakers and Wide-Ranging Topics
Perhaps by now you’ve seen the paradoxical and acutely oblivious image of a flyer for a math panel at Brigham Young University that proclaims in bold letters “Women In Math”, but nonetheless features photos of four men. Let this be a lesson to event hosts and event management firms alike: you have to embrace diversity to find the speakers that fit the bill.
Surely, an argument could be made that there are more men in math than women, but this is hardly the way to elevate female mathematicians or inspire an audience of “All Women Who Love Math”, as the poster advertises. In fact, this approach could be viewed as rather thoughtless and even insulting. If the goal of your event is to speak to a certain audience, you need to select the speakers and topics that are going to attract your demographic.
Certainly, you and your event company should seek qualified speakers with a sterling reputation in their field and among their peers, but you should also go out of your way to make sure the people acting as the face of your event are representative of the people attending.
Says Andy McNeill, CEO at AMI, “Diversity and inclusiveness open new doors of thought and discourse, which only helps to expand viewpoints, improve relations among groups, and pave the way for a richer experience for all. This is the future that benefits us most as professionals and human beings, and we should all embrace it.”
Event Company Site Comparison
Consider for a moment the hubbub surrounding the notorious bathroom bill (House Bill 2) enacted in North Carolina in 2016. In response to fairly blatant discrimination against the LGBT community (under the guise of public safety), several prominent interests vowed not to do business in the state.
PayPal put a stop to plans for a new facility that would have brought an estimated $2.66 billion cash infusion to the state’s economy. Ringo Starr cancelled a concert. The NCAA vowed to avoid hosting events in the state until the law changed.
Every business owner hosting events has the opportunity to let actions speak louder than words, and even the location and venue you choose for your meetings and conferences can impact your brand image. In other words, think long and hard about withholding your business from places that reject diversity, tolerance, and inclusiveness.
Diverse Service Providers
When most people plan small-scale events, they go with what they already know and like – the restaurant down the street, the flower shops and photographers they’ve always used. Corporate meetings and events, however, represent your company, and if you want to present a diverse and inclusive image, you need to consider exhibitors, food, and entertainment options you might not gravitate toward of your own accord. An experienced event company like AMI can help you here, as can suggestions from your diverse staff and even event attendees.
Event Management Focus on Attendee Inclusiveness
Not every event attendee is the same. Some are tall and some are short. Some can walk while others are in wheelchairs. Some can hear and some can see – some cannot. Some are gluten- or dairy-intolerant.
You cannot approach inclusiveness as a hassle any more than you can shun people for their differences, at least not if you want to succeed. If you want to impress and engage attendees from all walks of life, you need to think about how to make accommodations and adjustments so that everyone can enjoy your event.