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  • Writer's pictureTaChelle Lawson

How To Diversify Your Events

People at an event

As a DEI strategist, consultant and professional speaker, I’ve spoken with countless event organizers. Do you want to know the most significant challenge most of them face? Diversifying their events, especially onstage. It’s not like they can or should pick proposals because the speaker represents a marginalized group. The speaker should have the expertise and experience that aligns with the event. As a hospitality veteran, I want to share a little about strategically diversifying your events without coming across as virtue signaling.

Why Diversity at Events Matters

Industry and professional events don’t just reflect the community they represent. They help shape them. People want to see themselves represented in their field or industry. If they don’t see themselves on stage, social media, etc. - why would they be interested in joining or attending your event?

If we want industries to reflect demographic shifts and the communities they serve, we must invest the time and resources to increase representation both on and off stage.

How To Increase Diversity at Your Events

Invite Diverse Voices

Many diverse professionals have shared their experiences of not feeling welcomed or supported, so they don’t pursue new opportunities. This results in the same speakers being selected for on-stage speaking engagements and don’t address the challenge of representing diverse voices.

This may seem overwhelming if your events have lacked diversity or interest from diverse applicants. It doesn’t need to be. Start by adding a section to your website that your organization seeks diverse perspectives and the steps being taken to welcome those perspectives. Determine the timeline and goal of applicants.

If this doesn’t drive interest, look at your network. A qualified diverse thought leader is bound to be closer than you think. Ask for referrals and be persistent.

Offer Scholarship

Beyond onstage diversity, removing barriers for diverse attendees is extremely important. Consider offering scholarships for marginalized groups, college students, low-income, etc. This will not only increase diversity but your brand reputation. People are more likely to buy from or support a company when they see themselves represented.

Address the Elephant in the Room

We must leave our comfort zone and have uncomfortable, disruptive conversations to increase diversity. Personal and professional conversations around DEI and lived experiences need to be had. From panel discussions to keynotes, you can facilitate these discussions and help others get comfortable with uncomfortable conversations.

Increasing diversity is a top priority for many event organizers, but 40% of MPIs lack the knowledge needed to plan diverse and inclusive events. If you are looking for a diverse speaker or need help incorporating DEI into your events, let’s talk.

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