Diversity, equity and inclusion in events is an essential concept, but knowing where to start can be challenging.
How important is diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) to your organization and clients? Probably very, but the DEI landscape has many moving parts. The contention around DEI continues to rise due to the politicization of the concept, making the discussion around DEI in events more important than before.
According to Elliott Ferguson, president and CEO of Destination DC and former chair of Tourism Diversity Matters, the meetings industry is experiencing a generational shift following the pandemic. The importance of DEI in events and all other aspects of business is high on the list of priorities for the new wave of event professionals. “The most prevalent generations in the workforce are Gen Z and millennials,” Ferguson said. “DEI is important and new professionals want to challenge organizations and companies to make it a priority.”
Ferguson is confident in the role that the meetings industry can play. “As we look at some of the changes such as reversal of opportunities for minorities, the industry is probably going to amplify the messaging in terms of the importance of diversity as a whole,” he said.
Ten Ways to Bring Effective Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Into Events
- Connecting with an industry organization is one of the most straightforward approaches available. Tourism Diversity Matters (TDM) is a prime example of an organization that provides data to create more effective DEI strategies.
- Sourcing diverse vendors and services can be a heavy task on its own. Work with vendors and venues that prioritize DEI. Many DMOs, such as Destination DC, have listings of local minority-owned businesses that offer services and suggestions for implementing DEI in events.
- The hospitality and events workforce is in flux. Take advantage of the numerous hiring platforms designed to build a diverse team. ActivateWork is a platform that helps connect employers with a diverse talent pool through a proprietary screening process.
- Ask attendees the right questions and track KPIs. Registration and surveys should emphasize the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in events to attendees and avoid asking questions that result in collecting irrelevant analytics.
- Address implicit bias through HR training and education. Doing so will better secure a diverse workforce and leadership while creating an inclusive workplace.
- An organization must make its stance on DEI clear. A well-defined mission and vision statement can create a sense of identity and solidarity among a team and align them with specific goals.
- Communicate a commitment toward DEI with stakeholders and associates internally. “Companies and organizations need to see the importance of this issue, that there will always be a need for it and there’ll be an interest in making sure that it is being discussed,” Ferguson said.
- Strengthen and amplify your organization’s DEI support and messaging. This is more important than ever as DEI comes under attack as the concept becomes more politicized across the U.S.
- Focus on selecting host cities based on a unique and inclusive social climate. Do not ban entire states based on politics. Acknowledge the story of the land where you’re hosting to emphasize diversity, equity and inclusion in events.
- Celebrate each other. Acknowledging and celebrating one another’s differences is an effective way to cultivate support for various communities. Support the different celebrations that take place throughout the year to recognize these communities’ contributions.
Photo credit: Wise Owl Media / Tourism Diversity Matters