Exclusive: Worth Int’l COO Victor Diaz-Herman on Fostering Inclusivity

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Victor Diaz-Herman, COO, Worth International MediaHow Victor Diaz-Herman’s decades of LGBTQ+ advocacy informs his perspectives on inclusivity in business, in life and in the meetings industry.

Inclusivity is vital to success, and Victor Diaz-Herman, COO of Prevue’s parent company, Worth International Media, is proud that his team is “unwavering in their support of our mission, A World Connected, which at its core is a call to action in an effort to create a world where everyone is seen, valued and belongs.”

His deep belief in this mission was honed over a long career as an advocate and activist for LGBTQIA+ people. Having served as the Chief Executive Officer at Pridelines, South Florida’s oldest LGBTQ+ direct services agency and Miami-Dade County’s LGBTQ+ Community Center, Victor has over 15 years of experience in creating safe, brave and affirming spaces that embrace the intersecting identities of each person that walked through their doors. Victor also serves on the board of Equality Florida, the state’s leading LGBTQ rights organization.

New to the industry, Victor is committed to understanding how inclusivity and belonging play out in the meetings and events industry. “My hope is that I can offer my experience whenever possible to help foster more diverse, equitable and inclusive meetings, events and incentive programs where planners and participants feel and know they belong.”

Prevue recently caught up with Diaz-Herman to learn more.

Prevue: You’re more oriented toward the business side by education and inclination — and that’s a role you now are filling at Worth International Media. So how did you become an advocate and activist?

Diaz-Herman: I went to Pridelines to help a nonprofit with a mission that I was passionate about, but that was struggling to fund the services and programs it was dedicated to providing. As a result, I found myself running an LGBTQ+ organization and advocating for my community and the clients we serve — that by default made me an activist.

Prevue: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in your work as an LGBTQ+ advocate?

Diaz-Herman: One of the challenges that I’ve found myself navigating throughout my career, and my life, is how to operate in spaces where people are not willing to be “called out” as most would say, though I prefer to think of it as being “called in” — the willingness to be told when we aren’t operating at our best, when we may have totally gotten it wrong, or when we might have or did cause harm.

I find that most people don’t like being “called in” because it’s uncomfortable, but in reality, if we all welcomed the discomfort, I believe it would create opportunities for learning, growth and change. This is how we created safe, affirming and brave spaces at Pridelines; by encouraging conversations about how we were and were not showing up correctly for our community to inform how we operated for them and by them.

Prevue: Who needs to be involved in those conversations to ensure they’re as productive as possible?

Diaz-Herman: There’s a saying, “Nothing for us without us.” It’s important that the people you are working for be included in the conversations about what you are trying to accomplish. If we are truly working to create a more diverse, inclusive and equitable space that fosters belonging, then we have to be intentional about doing so, and that means having and elevating the voices of the people who are reflective of those you are seeking to serve present throughout the conversation. I say this knowing that it’s not easy. It takes time. It takes mentorship. It takes training. You have to be intentional about hiring practices, about the conversations you choose to have and the programs you choose to design, about the volunteers you recruit.

Prevue: What are some ways planners can promote diversity, equity and inclusion in their events, based on your inclusive-community-building experience?

Diaz-Herman: In bullet points, I would recommend:

  • Ensure your planning committee and speakers represent the diverse identities and perspectives of the people they are planning for.
  • Welcome newcomers in a meaningful way. Go beyond the standard welcome reception or “first timers” breakfast, and help them connect with others to build a sense of belonging. Introduce people and help them find common ground.
  • Consider people’s diverse lived experiences, not just their stated identities or what you may assume to be their idetities. Celebrate individuals for all that they bring to the table.
  • Provide training to address unconscious biases and better understand the experiences of different communities — commit to ongoing learning.
  • Invite and elevate the voices of those who have historically not been at the table to share both what is working and what isn’t. Listen openly and be willing to sit in the discomfort.

Prevue: How can you tell if your inclusivity work is on the right track?

Diaz-Herman: In my experience, you know you’re on the right track when you begin to see and hear a more diverse representation of people in spaces where they have traditionally not been present or where their voices have not been elevated. I also believe a great indicator of success is when those individuals begin to influence how they want to be served and when they take ownership or play a leading role in helping to create the spaces they want to be a part of and belong in.

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