Usually this portion of the Friday With Joan newsletter includes interviews with, or notes from interviews, with industry colleagues and others.

Because of the complexity of the topics and issues discussed, this article instead focuses on comments from their observations about why people—and the meetings industry, our industry—may be silent on issues that impact them directly or indirectly and actions they can take.  

Susan Sarfati, a long-time valued colleague and friend, wrote this and spoke more about it with me when we discussed why people do not speak up and act.

“You asked about my comment re: ‘not speaking up’ related to the [industry] situation[s].  

“People have fears of being different, not following the crowd, standing out for diversity of thought and most simply, don’t want to bother to get involved.

“Looking the other way and just moving on with their individual lives is most people’s choice.

“Every year on my birthday people send me private messages and I emphasize private about contributions I’ve made to the association community and how they wish I was still doing so.

“But they don’t want others to see these messages and many of are the very individuals who had an opportunity to speak out [on other issues impacting my work long ago and didn’t].

“This is just my situation; I think it duplicates itself in many situations.”

I admire Susan and her husband, Joel Sarfati, for their activism in D.C. where they, like I, live, and on issues that are broad and inclusive.

More Issues That Impact Our Industry

There are many issues I chose not to delve into on the main Friday With Joan blog post that impact our industry and about which we can act including:

(1) Wages and homelessness: Often because housing is expensive and jobs pay too little, the number of people who are working and homeless will continue to grow including in Washington, DC, the U.S. capital city. Two cities that have experienced an impact on meetings and tourism because of homelessness are San Francisco and Austin.

Los Angeles too is experiencing issues of those who are the working poor without homes, including these people employed by a place that is about magic.

We can choose to do more to address these issues including supporting paying more (gasp!) for services for meetings and then demanding that workers are paid livable wages.

I’m grateful to Paula Stratman Rigling,  interviewed previously here, for our conversation about Austin and how the community is addressing how to help those who are homeless.

(2) Safety and gun violence: Howard Givner, with a few others, is taking on the issues of safety by creating “A Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence at Events.”

Unlike many legislatures in the U.S. who haven’t been moved by shootings of children and young people (Sandy Hook and Parkland) or those that directly impacted our industry (Las Vegas Route 91 Music Festival, Gilroy Garlic Festival, Pulse nightclub), Howard—and Dawn Penfold too who wrote about the issue—are willing to speak up.

In fact, wasn’t it odd that on October 1, just days ago, our industry and most national news programs—at least from what I could find—didn’t address the 2nd anniversary of the Las Vegas concert massacre? Well at least not until MGM announced a settlement with the victims.

It seems hospitality, like legislatures, is uncomfortable addressing guns other than to remind us to run-hide-fight for safety. Howard wrote this post and has created this petition.

I hope you will consider signing it.

(3) Registering to vote and voting: The greatest act you can take, in any country, is to register, become educated on the issues, and vote.

Roger Rickard, founder and president of Voices in Advocacy® and I have talked often about our frustration with the industry’s lack of action in helping people register to vote, to inform of the issues on ballots that impact our communities and industries, and to encourage voting.

I may noodge [Yiddish, meaning to push to act] on issues; our industry as individual organizations, can’t tell you how to vote. It can ensure you do.

3 Actions YOU Can Take Right Now

In closing, these words from Roger Rickard. Shared with gratitude for all his work in helping people learn to advocate for what matters. Emphasis (in bold) is mine.

“Individuals within the meetings industry can and should do the following:

1. Make sure you are registered to vote and then VOTE. Also, ask your member organizations to conduct a voter registration drive. They legally can do this if they do not recommend which political affiliation for which to register.

[Check here or your local board of elections].

2. Ask your meetings industry organizations to provide education on the political and legislative issues that impact the industry.

Knowledge of these issues is vital to the future success of the industry.

3. Act! The fourth action of my ‘7 Actions of Highly Effective Advocates’ is ‘Get on the Record.’

“Once educated on issues one can write and speak out to help defend and protect the meetings industry.”

Related Content From the October 2019 Edition of Friday With Joan

[Click here to view additional content in the 10.04.19 Friday With Joan newsletter].