“Diversity fatigue is real,” said Greg DeShields, CEO of PHLDiversity.
And it’s true. People groan when they hear the words “diversity and inclusion.”
They’ve been through training at work, in their spiritual homes, in their communities. Yet, the fear of those “not like us” is great and the lessons learned are not sticking.
The following was posted to the Meetings Today Twitter account from a presentation on storytelling at the MPI Northern California Chapter’s Annual Conference & Exhibition:
“The story always came first. Without a great story, everything would unravel.” The quote is attributed to Matthew Luhn, who worked with Pixar on the Toy Story films and others.
Because the subject is not sexy—a bit like ethics or contingency planning, as I was once told by an industry association staff person—diversity and inclusion at meetings often gets overlooked or, perhaps even worse, we assume that it's no longer an issue.
I began to write this blog post with the intention of identifying the many things you can do to ensure your meetings, conferences and events are more inclusive.
My initial advice included, but certainly is not limited to the following:
Possible additions to my list included the offering of printed handouts versus having everything web or cloud based because not everyone has a device capable of access.
We also know people learn better by writing than by “keyboarding.” And let’s not forget to ensure that images used in all levels and types of marketing are representative of different ethnicities, gender, attire, age and visible ability.
Then I thought: you know this. You get it.
You are a unique person who wants to be included versus excluded; you hate the pain you see in children and adults when they come to an event dressed differently than others because no one told them or showed them what was acceptable.
At some time in your life, you too were left out for being different. We all were.
I thought the examples shared by those I interviewed for the March 2018 edition of the Friday With Joan newsletter would help. And yet, only a few shared personal stories.
As noted earlier in this blog post, the “story comes first.”
Here are some of my own experiences that have instilled a desire to seek out and ensure inclusiveness and diversity in the world in which I live and work.
I am or was:
You can check calendars for dates to avoid so that you don’t meet over holidays and you can delve into why some religious holidays are more important than others.
You can learn by talking with people who aren’t like you—that includes those who are your members or customers or who want to and could be if they were just asked. You can talk with your HR departments and those who conduct diversity training like Jessica Pettitt and learn more about the importance of diversity and inclusion for all.
You can read what people are posting about the “math for women” conference that showcased a panel of four men and realize your marketing isn’t showing who you want to attract—you too hotels and cities!
You can read the U.S. Department of Justice website to understand your obligations to help people with disabilities attend and participate in your meeting and you can stop asking why you have to provide sign language Interpreters because they’re expensive.
You can read what Tracy Stuckrath has written about food and beverage and shared elsewhere in our industry. Or why meeting the needs of those who “claim to be vegan” really means they need to eat what they need to eat so they feel valued.
It’s pretty easy to understand why people want to be included in all the activities at your conferences and in your facilities. And why it hurts so much when people are not.
We need to be hospitable and welcoming in all that we do.
It all matters because we live in a global society and we all need to support each other, no matter how much we or others might think or say otherwise. It all matters. It just does.
Related Reading From the March 2018 Edition of Friday With Joan
Click here to view additional content in the 03.02.18 Friday With Joan newsletter.
Editor’s Note: The views expressed by contributing bloggers are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Meetings Today or its parent company.
Posted by Joan L. Eisenstodt
Follow Joan on Twitter: @joaneisenstodt