When it comes to planning for diversity, equity, and inclusion in events, there are so many factors to consider that it’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose sight of the important ones.
“How to plan appropriately?”
“Are we being biased?”
“Are we creating a comfortable environment for everyone?”
Ariana Reed, the director of global strategic partnership with American Express Meetings & Events, has shared her best professional advice through real, practical tips, and a checklist guide, for your next meeting.
First things first. Ariana emphasizes the importance of keeping in mind diversity goes beyond what our eyes can see and people’s unique traits are far more complex than gender and race. Diversity has multiple layers and is multidimensional. For example, one’s primary dimensions involve characteristics such as age, gender identity, race, and physical and mental abilities. Secondary dimensions include family composition, nation of origin, language, socioeconomic status, and education. Organizational dimensions relate to professional experiences, occupation, and institutional affiliations. Cultural dimensions include religion and cultural traditions.
With these in mind, start planning and communicating with your stakeholders to figure out where they stand on inclusivity and who your audience is. Here are six practical tips to get you started:
- Attendees: think about the potential “dimensions,” such as intergenerational differences, international citizenship, gender identity and equity, socioeconomic status, disabilities, religion, etc.
- Venue, format, and setup: assess if the destination/venue could be perceived as discriminatory, choose a meeting format that fosters collaboration, and evaluate if the facility/rooms layout allows convenient mobility and accessibility.
- Diversity of suppliers: elevate competition between existing, local, and new suppliers to drive additional value, diversity of thought, and perspectives.
- Speaker selection: avoid defaulting to the usual recommended speakers. Make sure speakers are representative of the audience and help promote inclusive ideas.
- Communication: create a strategy that is mindful of diverse imagery and gender-neutral, easy-to-understand language. Consider tools and technology needed for accessibility, such as sign language, second screens, and translations.
- Event date and agenda: watch for key religious and national holidays. Accommodate a variety of dietary preferences (vegetarian, vegan, etc.) and incorporate entertainment and activities suitable for diverse audiences.
It doesn’t stop here. There is much more you can do before, during, and after an event to be inclusive. Download our Checklist for Planning Inclusive Meetings and Events to learn more.
“If you don’t have a plan for inclusivity, your plan is to be exclusive.” –Catrice M. Jackson.