I recently had the opportunity to speak with Marc Boisclar of Connect about the role of diversity in meetings. I’m sure we can all relate to being somewhere where we didn’t feel included or welcomed. Whether it was the food or atmosphere or entertainment or just everything, we’ve all had that experience where we just couldn’t wait to get out and get home.
Diversity is not just a buzz-word or something meeting planners can cross off of a list. “Diversity? Yes, check, we did that.” Not quite that simple.
Diversity is the concept of thinking about every person who will pass through your event (on-site or not) and ensuring that they feel welcomed and accepted.
“Diversity extends into every area of the meeting, and far beyond the meeting room. When people ‘see themselves’ they feel appreciated, accepted, comfortable, and at peace. The old adage that people do business with people they know, like and trust and people like people who are like them is TRUE!”
One of the questions asked during the interview was “Do you think corporate clients ‘get’ the idea of holding diverse and inclusive meetings, or do too many still feel like they’ve achieved a satisfactory level of diversity by hiring a woman speaker and seating a black man on a discussion panel?”
My response was that it’s getting better, but we definitely have not arrived by any stretch of the imagination. Intentions are good, but many just don’t understand that true inclusiveness means fostering diversity and inclusion from the inside out – from inception to execution, from vendors to sponsors to attendees to topics, speakers, branding, etc. – as many relevant viewpoints as possible should be included. Events have to have a very broad appeal to an increasingly diverse audience, and it goes far beyond having a woman speaker or a man of color on a panel. Broader recognition and appreciation of the depth of what diversity means is the next great opportunity we have to elevate this conversation.
Check out the full interview here.