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Op-Ed: Can the Meetings Industry Save America?

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Gary Murakami, Teneo Hospitality Group.
Gary Murakami

Have we become so divided in this country that we are not able to move forward together? 

Hearing the recent news regarding the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that could potentially strike down Roe v. Wade, I was struck initially by a sense of increased despair of where we are headed, considering the past few years of pandemic, but simultaneously with a renewed sense of resilience and resolve— characteristics indicative of our industry that have been articulated and demonstrated quite well during the momentous challenge of pandemic. 

The past few years—and recent events—have really increased the stress levels of our colleagues, and no matter what opinion one has on the Supreme Court news, what can and must the meetings industry do to save America during one of the most polarizing periods in its history? 

[Related: DEI and the Hospitality Are Dual Passions of Teneo's Gary Murakami]

We as an industry have committed that the meetings and events community can “change the world” and our industry “can drive social and economic progress” and transformation. We are an industry that is defined by dialogue, so that gives us a unique perspective about the importance of civil discourse. 

Our industry has shown resilience and demonstrated how innovation and the power of collaboration can bring people together. We have shown over time that our industry thrives on the power of relationships. In a sense, we specialize as a platform for presenting differing opinions and ideas, while still coming together to create and facilitate unique opportunities and environments for people to coalesce to find solutions and results—or just keep civil dialogue flowing during chaotic and stressful times. 

Our industry still grapples with enhancing the conversation of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), and much work and progress are yet to be made. I like to think that we are, however, willing to listen and be open to hearing the various voices involved in the conversation, and then continue to dedicate ourselves to creating equity and inclusion in our industry and beyond. 

Let’s find ways to understand how we use our platform, along with the influence and the power of our industry, to make real change in what we do each day. 

I am reminded by the power of “me,” and my responsibility in our community regarding the commitment that “I” make in the collective “we.”

A Mantra for Our Times

Clearing my mind while getting my workout in on the treadmill the other day, I came up with this concept on how we can remind ourselves to be present in creating change while also being empathetic to the experiences and opinions of others: 

  • IMPACT the world with what we do each and every day, and create strategies to accomplish the initiatives we believe in. 
  • INCLUDE all voices into the conversation, as diversity brings different perspectives and understanding. 
  • IDEATE opportunities for what is possible. 
  • ILLUMINATE ideas and thoughts even if they differ from yours.  
  • INSPIRE others and be inspiring.  
  • INFLUENCE the conversation and ideas by creating space for those opportunities to happen. 

While we create unique and memorable experiences and face challenging obstacles and situations, let’s remember what meetings and events truly do—create impact and drive results. So, I ask you as we move forward, how can we as an industry “save America” and realize that we can and must facilitate our positive future together? 

Read Next: New Asian Pacific Islander Meetings Industry Advocacy Group Launches 

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About the author
Gary Murakami

Gary Murakami, GTP, GLP, CMP, CMM, DES, is vice president of sales and industry Relations for Teneo Hospitality Group.