Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) is a topic that many businesses are talking about and also struggling to put into practice. There is much research and information out there about the power of diverse teams on an organization’s performance and profits, and it stands to reason that it can positively impact events, too. But just like businesses are grappling to understand DE&I and how to implement it in a genuine and effective way, it can be challenging to make it part of your event strategy.
But this is a critical challenge to overcome as a lack of DE&I can leave some of your attendees (read: customers) feeling left out and minimized, costing you money. It can also affect your brand’s reputation if customers see a lack of prioritization around DE&I (as has played out at several major conferences). A clear understanding of what DE&I is (and isn’t), why it matters, and taking steps to implement practices is not only the right thing to do, it can take your events to the next level.
Check out our tips on how you can think about, and prioritize, DE&I approaches for your next event.
- Have a diverse speaker lineup. When deciding who will have the mic at your next event, you evaluate their experience, knowledge, and background as it relates to your event goals. But are you paying attention to diversity? Unfortunately, research shows that almost two-thirds of professional event speakers are male. This means it’s important to take the time to research and find a lineup of speakers that includes women, people of color, differently abled individuals, people of varying ages, and more, that fit your needs. And it’s important to remember that this isn’t something you do to check a box or look good. Bringing in diverse perspectives and experiences can unearth new insights for you and your attendees and make everyone feel welcome.
- Think about your photos and imagery. Your app or website is the biggest marketing tool you have for your event and it’s a great platform to put your DE&I approaches into practice. Take a look at the photos, illustrations, and other visuals you’re planning to include and make sure they represent a diverse group of ages, races, genders, body types, and ethnicities. When a potential attendee arrives on your website or app and sees themselves represented, they may feel more inclined to attend, and to tell their colleagues to join them. If your site graphics don’t reflect the diversity of your audience, you could lose potential attendees who don’t see themselves as part of your ideal participant. Another important element for your website or app is to ensure that it’s accessible for people of all abilities. Following the guidelines for ADA and WCAG
compliance can help make sure that everyone can access and use your site.
- Vendors are important, too. When embracing the ideals of DE&I, don’t stop at your speakers and attendees. Think about the folks behind the scenes making the event run. Your venue owner, catering partner, graphic designer, production manager, and more, can and should be as diverse as your speaker lineup and attendees. Not sure where to start? Your local Chamber of Commerce may have resources and you can check out the Small Business Administration’s website for a list of minority owned businesses.
- Become certified. Did you know that as an event professional, you can get DE&I certified? The Event Leadership Institute offers an Event DEI Strategist Certificate to help event professionals deepen their understanding, and knowledge of, DEI practices. The course helps professionals go beyond the more fundamental strategies of DE&I and offers them the tools to dismantle structures, policies, and processes that aren’t diverse, equitable, or inclusive.
- Create space for attendees to name themselves. If you want your attendees to feel free to be themselves and experience your event in an authentic way, consider implementing methods for them to name or gender themselves. If a potential attendee is worried about fellow attendees mispronouncing their name or misgendering them, they may decide to skip the event altogether to avoid an embarrassing situation. To help put everyone at ease, offer the opportunity for attendees to set up their name pronunciation either phonetically or in an audio recording and welcome different pronouns by offering a selection to choose from for name badges or event profiles. Not only will this help everyone feel welcome, you’ll be helping to normalize pronoun choice and sharing.
We all want to belong
It’s human nature to want to feel a sense of belonging and your next event can provide the opportunity to do that for your attendees. These approaches and practices are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to implementing DE&I as part of your event strategy and are a great place to start on your organization’s DE&I journey.
Ready to share all of the amazing DE&I approaches you’re implementing for your next event? Let InGo help you tackle your event marketing challenges, drive engagement, and skyrocket attendance.