Modern day events require inclusivity and diversity. It’s become increasingly important to ensure that everyone has a place and a voice at the proverbial table. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) should be given supreme importance, no matter what type of event you're planning.
According to Allied Market Research, the global events industry will grow in value to approximately $1,552 billion by 2028. That’s a whopping number. Event planners should aim to capitalize on their slice of the pie, and taking care of DEI is a sure-fire way to do so. It can seem a little tricky to navigate this space, as it's important to remain authentic. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to increase DEI at your events in a genuine way.
How to Add DEI to Your Event
Here are some ways in which you can ensure diversity and inclusion at your event:
Diversify the Panel
A lot of events, especially conferences and webinars, churn through industry-known speakers. Seeing the same faces can get dull after a while; instead, smart event planners look to give attendees someone new to be excited about. Consider looking for fresh faces in the specific industry you’re hosting the panel for, even if they’re not super well-known. You’ll stumble across a plethora of diverse individuals, each of whom has an interesting and unique story.
Another factor to keep in mind is relevant experience. When asking a speaker to host a panel about a certain topic, make sure they’re part of the conversation around the subject. For example, ask members of the LGBTQ community to speak about a topic related to the subject at hand, instead of an outsider who isn’t part of the group.
Work with Inclusive Language
Make sure that any communication related to your event contains inclusive and welcoming language. Use this Inclusive Language Guideline from the American Psychological Association to create mindful communications for your event, and be open about your inclusivity efforts for each event.
Add Extensive Accessibility
One of the best ways to add DEI to an event is to ensure that it’s accessible for everyone. If your event is on-site, make sure that you add accessible entrances, exits, and seating. It should be accessible by people in wheelchairs or those who have other considerations. Having options for registration where attendees can request further accommodations is a great way to be welcoming.
Another important deliberation is to offer inclusive services like closed captioning, translations, and/or sign language. You can also use apps like Zoom phone if you’re planning a virtual event, but make sure you have accessibility features for everyone. Your website or social media posts should offer alternate captions and large text options too. Moreover, some people might not have the best Internet connection, so consider providing a downloadable version of the event.
Adding a virtual option to your events can make it accessible to everyone who cannot travel to your venue. Take advantage of the growing hybrid integration platform market and bring all the recordings of your old events on the cloud for those who could not be included before.
Be Open to Feedback
Continuous improvement can only be possible if you’re willing to take constructive criticism. It's not uncommon for large-scale events to be criticized by various groups for not adding sufficient DEI. Feedback is essential if you want to enjoy successful events and create open spaces for majority and minority groups alike. Inclusivity fosters good feeling and warmth in attendees and outsiders who hear about the event. Incorporating relevant feedback will bring you more queries and lead to better word-of-mouth marketing.
The event industry is rapidly changing with the world, and it’s now more important than ever to add a high level of DEI to both event planning and execution.
Make sure that your inclusivity efforts don’t feel like token or formal gestures. Rather, try to create a genuinely inclusive environment that caters to people across majority and minority groups. By being intentional about increasing DEI efforts and remaining open to feedback, your events will become a better experience for all.
Jenna Bunnell is the Senior Manager for Content Marketing at Dialpad, an AI-incorporated cloud-hosted unified communications system that provides valuable call details for business owners and sales representatives by means of features such as Dialpad cloud phone systems. She is driven and passionate about communicating a brand’s design sensibility and visualizing how content can be presented in creative and comprehensive ways. Jenna has written for sites such as Brightpearl and Voila Norbert.