The first and only LGBT association for the meeting professionals, the LGBT Meeting Professionals Association has grown in the almost four years since it was founded to 2,000 members from 43 countries.
This 501(c)(3) organization was founded by CEO David Jefferys almost four years ago and is thriving. LGBT Meeting Professionals Association will have a booth (#C0634) at the upcoming IMEX America show November 9 to 11 in Las Vegas and also a special D.E.I networking evening planned on November 9 from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at Eyecandy Bar & Lounge at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
Prevue sat down with the Chair, Derrick Johnson of Talley Management Group, Inc., to discuss how DEIA (diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility) has been impacted by COVID.
Prevue: Has interest in inclusive events grown during COVID, when planners have moved to virtual/hybrid and had so many other new concerns?
Johnson: Actually, it has has grown tremendously since COVID. The pandemic exposed the industry’s minimal focus on it, yet provide an expedited opportunity to maximize growth. Virtual experiences moved from the back seat of the family car into the driver’s and demonstrated to the community the opportunities that exist within providing extended access outside of the in-person space with minimal expectations on the participant (lower to no registration fees, no travel, and less time needed).
Virtual (and now hybrid) events add the opportunity to diversify audiences, customize solutions in a more people-centric mindset, and extends the life of the community beyond time and space. Once planners and organizations identify the most profitable (ROI, ROE, and ROO) design, it’ll be interesting how the data informs future action.
Prevue: Do you see a higher level of awareness and acceptance among younger attendees entering the industry than in the past?
Johnson: For the most part, the younger generation of attendees (Millennials and Gen Y) grew up with more technology, and their exposure to people, places and cultures outside of their natural environments have allowed them to be more mindful and open to diversity than older generations. Still, as we look at many leading organizations in our space, they are still run by individuals who fall into this category.
The opportunity is for groups to embrace younger leadership to help strengthen strategic directions for communities. The more we provide equal opportunities for people to learn, share and contribute, the more we diversify our spaces. Diversity is the foundation of evolution, and this change helps the meetings/events space create global and social impact in global communities.