Diversity Equity and Inclusion. What is it?
To start, let’s clarify the definitions of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Diversity refers to all aspects of human difference. Think about social identity, gender, race, ethnicity, culture, religion and age.
Equity refers to fair and just practices and policies that ensure everyone in a community, or in this case, event attendees, thrive. Note that equity is different from equality. Equity is the acknowledgment that equal treatment does not mean equal access, because not everyone gets to start from the same place.
Inclusion is when everyone is welcome, respected, valued, and has a sense of belonging.
One way to think of DEI is as a framework for creating welcoming and inclusive spaces for everyone. In fact, a growing number of meeting planners already have Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the top of mind. According to Meeting Professionals International “56% of event professionals have diversity and inclusion policies, and 42% include these statements on their websites.”
Why is DEI important?
As meeting and event planners, we want everyone to feel welcome and able to show up as their whole selves to every conference and meeting. The more welcoming and engaging we can make an event, the better it will be for everyone there! As event planners, it is our responsibility to do our best to put DEI into practice and utilize it as a framework for event planning.
How Can I Start Using the Principles of DEI in Event Planning? Here are a few ways to get started!
- Invite and host speakers and presenters from diverse backgrounds. Keep in mind that conference attendees are there to learn. Listening to and engaging with experts from a wide array of backgrounds encourages global thinking and expands people’s knowledge outside of what they know from their own experiences!
- Ensure that buildings and spaces are accessible. This can mean anything from ramps and elevators for wheelchair users, quiet rooms for those who need them, hotel rooms that meet ADA Standards and much more.
- Provide Audio Visual equipment that works with all communication styles including ASL interpreters if requested.
- If the conference includes a meal, make sure that there are options available for individuals who may have specific dietary needs. This means offering a vegetarian/vegan option, and providing accommodations for cultural or religious needs.
- Encourage opportunities for guests to participate in local tourism and share local culture and cuisines!
- Ask for feedback. Send out a digital survey after the event to learn about what went well and what could have been better. Use this information to plan an even better, more welcoming conference the next time around!
Meetings and conferences should be interesting, engaging, and welcoming. Utilizing the principles of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is more than a meeting trend, it is a way to create conferences that people will want to come back to, year after year!
Looking for more meeting and event planning tips? Check out our meeting planning series!