Designing a truly diverse meeting requires targeted planning and implementation. A panel of experts on a recent Prevue webinar, sponsored by Visit Dallas, shared tactics and strategies.
Experts agree: There are increased expectations for meetings and events that are diverse and inclusive. What does this mean for planners? How does the quest for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) impact program planning?
During a recent Prevue Webinar moderated by Editor Barbara Scofidio, a panel of experts offered hands-on advice: Leslie Zeck, Director of Meetings, International & American Associations for Dental Research; Sherri Lindenberg, Senior Vice President, Marketing Communications, Crump Life Insurance Company; Hattie Hill, President & CEO of the T.D. Jakes Foundation and Cheryl Richards, Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer at VisitDallas.
Among the takeaways, panelists recommended the following best practices for creating truly diverse meetings:
1. Create a DEI advisory board for your company. A diverse group of professionals can help with the planning process and give input on meeting content, speakers and programs. A DEI advisory board gives you access to all kinds of issues and information you may not be aware of otherwise.
2. During the site selection process, check the destination websites. Does promotional content reflect DEI? Does the website feature diverse bloggers telling the story of the city?
3. On site visits, take a good look around at hotel staff, from front desk to housekeeping. Do they reflect a diverse and inclusive venue?
4. Ensure a diverse selection of program speakers, moderators and event entertainment. CVB’s are a useful and free service for identifying local resources, for taking the diversity pulse of the destination, and even for ideas on how to implement diversity and inclusion in your programs.
5. There may be last-minute accessibility challenges on site. It’s important to create meeting spaces and after-hours spaces that are comfortable for everyone and compliant with DEI best practices.
6. Meeting promotions and social postings should reflect DEI best practices. Consider having a photographer on site to help you spread the word on social media.