Affinity Inc. Magazine Cover Story Featuring AMI’s CEO, Andy McNeill.

Affinity Inc. Magazine Cover Story Featuring AMI’s CEO, Andy McNeill.

In the Face of a Global Pandemic, AMI is Innovating a Path for Clients Worldwide

AMI’s CEO Andy McNeill talked to Affinity Inc Magazine about how AMI was among one of countless organizations forced to reevaluate its offerings in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic by increasing their virtual offerings, while still offering world class live meeting services.

Changing with the times
Right from the onset of COVID-19, AMI has demonstrated a willingness to rethink their client offerings in a way that highlights community focus onto socially relevant initiatives. For McNeill, flexibility in business has meant working with industry leaders to help develop comprehensive education programs and promote public awareness of COVID-19 when live meetings return. It has also shown up in its work with clients.

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The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion in Meetings and Events

The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion in Meetings and Events

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 canceled 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.

AMI’s CEO Andy McNeill, Keynote Speaker at the the MBA Orlando 2018 Supplier Diversity Summit

AMI’s CEO Andy McNeill, Keynote Speaker at the the MBA Orlando 2018 Supplier Diversity Summit

American Meetings, Inc. (AMI) CEO, Andy McNeill, is proud to have participated as the keynote speaker of the LGBT Chamber of Commerce Metropolitan Business Association (MBA) Supplier Diversity Summit held May 4th, 2018 at the Orlando Regional Medical Center in Orlando, FL.

About the Summit

The summit included lunch, a panel discussion, and Q&A with some of central Florida’s top Supplier Diversity advocates and breakout sessions to help grow your business. Discover the power of business certification, hear success stories from business owners and supplier diversity leaders, and learn strategies to advance your business to the next level.

Supplier Diversity

American Meetings, Inc. AMI was the proud recipient of the NGLCC’s 2018 Global Supplier of The Year award. Through our supplier diversity program, we aim to create partner relationships that reflect the cultural diversity of the communities we work in. Our commitment is rooted in the belief that relationships with new and diverse partners will establish our leadership role in the global marketplace and creates a world of benefits for our team members, partners, and clients.