Planning more inclusive events is fundamental for the continued growth of our industry. It’s not just the right thing to do; it’s the only way forward to ensure we still have a sizable audience at our events and a diverse membership in our industry organizations. It’s not just attracting Gen Z that we need to focus on; we must place an emphasis on diversity within every generation.
Build Inclusivity into Events
The genuine creation of more inclusive events starts during the planning process. Include diverse voices and perspectives on your leadership team to ensure the event planning considers DEI goals. If diversity is not present during planning, it will be more difficult to ensure that it is part of the event.
As you work to develop more inclusive events, consider everything from catering to special diets to physical accessibility (ramps, wide walkways, special seating, alternatives to staircases) to using inclusive language. Ask your team to consider representation as well. Inclusivity has a bigger impact when the people speaking at your events represent the inclusive audience you wish to see there.
Choose Moderators Who Align with Your Inclusive Spirit
When you send out formal invitations to moderators and speakers, be sure to highlight your mission of inclusivity, to ensure that your invited moderators and speakers are aligned with your DEI efforts. Respectfully request pronoun preferences from any speakers so that you can include those in their profiles.
Be Mindful of Religious and Cultural Impacts
When choosing the date of your event, the theme, and other aspects, be mindful of the potential impact on different religious holidays, cultural observations, and other days of observance. Make sure to use themes that don’t appropriate a culture.
Choose Your Venue Carefully and Provide Necessary Accommodations
Choose venues designed for better accessibility. Be sure to inquire about all-gender bathrooms, elevators and ramps, accessible entryways and automatic doors, as well as low-vision and low-hearing options. Hire a sign language interpreter or offer assistive devices.
Plan the Menu
If you plan to serve food at your event, be sure to offer clearly labeled vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free options as needed. As part of the registration process, provide an area where people can make a note of food restrictions, which you can then pass onto your caterer.
Being more inclusive will open the doors for a larger audience at any event.