The world is filled with people telling you how you should be and what you should do. Especially after the past year we have had, social media is filled with different resources encouraging you to make a difference in your day to day life. This year we learned that making a difference requires a conscious effort. Going about events and life in general the same as we were before doesn’t work anymore (did it ever?). The first step is to not take offense. The work you are doing matters but the world is demanding that we each make more of an effort everyday to be diverse and inclusive. Even a small step can make a big difference to someone.
Being diverse and inclusive at your event shouldn’t only happen during Black History Month. February is for honoring and acknowledging the impact that Black individuals have made and continue to make on our communities and country. However, every day should be spent making an effort to ensure that every person from every background and walk of life feels included.
We wanted to share some useful information for event planners looking to create more welcoming and mindful event experiences. In order to give as valuable information as possible, we spoke with multiple individuals to gather their advice on how event planners can move forward in creating more inclusive events. One included Yolanda Caldwell, the Chief Diversity Officer at The College of Saint Rose, who gave some insightful advice and sparked much inspiration for this blog. Below you can find a few helpful tips, ideas, and reminders for how event planners can organize more diverse (or fully diverse) and inclusive events.
★ Make a conscious effort/go out of your way to add diversity and inclusivity to your event! Your audience is more diverse than you think. Set a goal/plan and stick to it every time. It can be uncomfortable getting out of your normal routine, but it is important to get past the discomfort to get to a better future.
★ Focus on the importance of inclusivity. To put its importance into perspective, think about a time when you really wanted to fit in or wanted to do something but there just wasn’t a place for you. When you are creating an event, you never want to make people feel like they do not belong. Creating a safe and comfortable space for everyone should be the most important aspect of every event.
★ Diversity and inclusion does not lie in one “genre”. Exposure to diversity can only benefit your event. Here are some ideas:
- Gender — How many females/women are attending/running your event? Is your event acknowledging pronouns? (They/them, Him/His, etc)
- Age — Is your event inclusive for all age groups? Can parents bring their children or can you offer a children’s section?
- Culture — Are you being considerate of different religions or holidays? Some religions do not allow people to attend events on Saturday nights or Sundays. Send out a message into the community or your team to make sure you are educated on your audience.
- Disability — Make sure to include closed captioning, flashing lights, accessibility, sign language, and/or any other disability based requests for your audience.
- Race — Are you marketing to different audiences from different backgrounds? Do your marketing materials represent that? Your audience is bigger than you think.
- Job Rank- Entry level people may also be interested in your event! Send an invitation to college campuses or local community centers. Same goes for the managers or CEOs. Include everyone if possible.
These are only some of the options available. The list goes on and on.
★ Add a diversity committee to your team. Having a team specifically set aside to head up a diversity and inclusion initiative for your event is the best way to ensure that every person is taken care of and all needs are being met.
★ Being inclusive includes people with disabilities. HERE is a great guide that lists ways to make your online event more accessible.
★ Always remember that one small step leads to bigger steps.
We hope this sparks some inspiration for you and your team to create more meaningful and inclusive events. If you have any questions, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!