Bron Hansboro, founder of Richmond, Va.-based The Flower Guy Bron, led the WIPA webinar “Moving the Race Needle Forward” yesterday, addressing the issues of diversity and inclusion in the event industry. Hansboro was included on last year’s Special Events “25 Young Event Pros to Watch.”
Advice from his presentation:
Bear in mind that we’re biased even when we think we are not biased.
Hansboro pointed to the book “Biased” by Jennifer L. Eberhardt, which explores the hidden prejudices that shape what we see, think and do. “This bias can be triggered even when we want to be fair,” Hansboro said.
To offer authentic support to people of color, start by being honest.
People of color may be hesitant to embrace today’s sudden outreach from the white community “because we’ve been downtrodden and disrespected so long,” Hansboro said. “You can’t just join the fight now; you must be transparent and share your story—even your dirty laundry.”
Start at the heart--even when it’s hard to do it.
“Start having some hard conversations with yourself,” he advised. “You are going to offend people and annoy people, but don’t you get offended. Show what it in your heart.”
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
On this journey, you will make mistakes, but “be comfortable making those mistakes,” he advised, “even if they dog you and drag you.” For white people who feel they are “damned if they do and damned if they don’t,” Hansboro advised picking the former and “Take one for the team!” He added, “It’s your turn to be uncomfortable.”
Send the message.
With the power of social media, “You cannot be ‘unaware’” of today’s demand for diversity and inclusion, he said. “Create a message of solidarity.”
Along that line, don’t be afraid to speak out when a colleague makes racist comments. “If something is ugly and hurtful, speak up,” he advised. “You have been evolving; make people evolve with you.”
Tokenism? Deal with it.
“You cannot avoid tokenism now,” he said, and it is a benefit if it “effects change.” “I can’t judge anyone else’s intentionality,” he said. “You have to start somewhere. Just get started.”
Take a good long look at your clients, and fire those you need to.
Based in Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War, Hansboro noted that his refusal to work on weddings hosted at former plantations has cost him plenty of business. But “If I can do it, you can do it,” he said. “It’s OK for you to fire a client. Because, how would such a client treat your servers? Your DJ? Your clients are just as much a reflection of you as your vendor team.”
So, take a good long look at your vendor team, too.
“Are the only Black people the DJs or the people who mop the floors?” he asked. “If the team is 80 percent white women, that team needs some diversity training.”
Seize this moment.
America is at a pivotal moment to move toward a diverse, inclusive society. “Hearts have been tilled for seeds,” he said.