Over the past few years, as a society, we’ve become more understandable and respectful regarding the differences that make us human. What matters most nowadays is how open and accepting we are with multiple levels of diversity (luckily!).
This reality became especially important for the events industry. Gradually, we started to acknowledge the wide spectrum of diversity, and adjusted the logistics and communication strategy to make the event more inclusive and more welcoming for everybody. Not embracing diversity can negatively influence an event’s image, which will lead to fewer attendees and a much smaller impact.
Considering these positive perception shifts, I have a question for you: Is your event inclusive?
Don’t worry if you’re not entirely sure—after all, even the best-intended professionals may unwillingly disregard the actions they should take to make a conference, seminar, or trade show more embracive.
However, it’s 2019, and to ensure your event’s success, it’s crucial to pay close attention to those logistic and communication details that will guarantee your attendees an inclusive experience.
We’re here to help. So before planning your next event, take note of the following recommendations on how to embrace diversity and transform your event into a welcoming place that acknowledges everyone:
Invite speakers who represent different groups
All-white male speaker panels belong in the past. Today, different attendees want to see themselves represented, so you can’t be biased when choosing your event stars. Select your speakers and make sure to invite representatives of every nationality, gender, religious affiliation, economic status, etc. You’ll get a much more interesting mix of ideas and opinions at your event, while also making sure your guests identify with the panel without feeling left out.
Guarantee an event scholarship
When it comes to attending an event, there are certain degrees of economical accessibility. Unfortunately, there are always going to be people who want to attend, yet can’t afford to do so. To make your event truly accessible and open to everyone, consider providing a few attendance scholarships for those in need. Establish the criteria people must meet to qualify and promote these opportunities.
Offer widespread catering
People are much more aware of what they’re eating these days, so naturally, it’s important to mirror their choices by providing a broad catering selection. Dairy-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, vegetarian, vegan, nonalcoholic options—all these are must-haves on your menu.
Be mindful of the language used during your event
When it comes to inclusivity, a lot of mistakes are made unwittingly. There’s no bad intention behind these mistakes, of course, but if we’re not aware of some subtleties, we can accidentally make someone feel awful or unwelcome.
This is especially true when it comes to events.
For example, a language slip can happen very easily. Say the moderators want to engage the attendees in a fun activity. To form groups, he, they urge people to change tables by saying, “Women should get up and change tables, while men should stay at the same table.”
While this comment seems innocent enough, think about those people who don’t identify as their birth sex or identify as gender neutral. So while this comment was certainly not meant as offensive in any way, it could still make some attendees feel uneasy, which is the last thing you want at your event.
Choose an accessible venue
Although we certainly don’t mean to, sometimes we forget to think about attendees with reduced mobility. It’s a big mistake that can lead to extremely unpleasant situations.
That’s why, when checking out an event venue, make sure to walk all the possible routes to different areas, imagining you’re in a wheelchair.
- Are there any ramps outside, and elevators inside?
- Are the bathrooms accessible?
- Will attendee(s) with reduced mobility be able to go from one area to another easily?
- Will they need support, or will they be able to do it by themselves?
- Put yourself in their shoes.
There are so many details related to inclusivity that you must consider. From hiring a sign language translator to providing event programs using the Braille alphabet, you should be aware constantly about those elements that make your event truly welcoming for different categories of people.
Providing a multifaceted event takes work and time, since there are multiple areas you must cover. However, the sense of gratification for doing the right thing is enormous. It’s 2019 after all, so let’s celebrate and embody diversity.