Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. Are we Failing?
It's time to meet with New Intent
The fear that face-to-face meetings wouldn’t come back after the pandemic has well and truly been proven wrong. I remember comments from some of those in the events industry included, ‘if you think things will be the same after COVID, you’ve got your head in the clouds.’ This was my industry they were talking about; one I’ve dedicated 15 years of my life to. But, in a way, they were both completely wrong and completely right in equal measure. Their meaning was that the rapid, impressive advancement and development of online meetings would signal the end of face-to-face which as we all know, didn’t happen. Business events came back with gusto, although online plays an important part in delivering content as inclusive as possible. Events and venues across the globe are reporting almost pre-COVID attendance levels, new events are being curated to meet the demand of delegates desperate to throw off the shackles of isolation, and trade shows in Europe and North America are seeing huge demand from both exhibitors and buyers.
Perhaps ‘head in the clouds’ wasn’t the right term but predicting events would not be the same after COVID turns out to have come true. Rightly, the last two years have brought to the forefront the climate crisis. Suddenly, the industry sat up and took note. Now, you could argue the industry was aware of this threat to humanity. I stand my ground and say that even if it was, it did nowhere near enough to combat it and certainly could not be classed as an industry that helped. On the contrary, we were part of the problem, and we’re by no means in a position, even now, to claim leadership in this area.
COP26 was probably the first COP that the industry took note of. The fact it’s the 26th edition, my 16th year in the industry, and this is the first time it’s been a real feature of business events news, is evidence of that. Accolades must be given to Glasgow, Scotland, in helping with this. A city passionate about business events made sure that this industry woke up, acknowledged the importance of an event that would determine our future, and made it the talking point of every industry conference throughout 2021 and into 2022. The launch of the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism and the Net Zero Carbon Events Pledge all featured for the first time in a COP.
Have we done enough as a collective industry? No. Have we taken the threat of the climate crisis on our industry and the world seriously enough. No. We have events that don’t push their destinations far enough in creating net zero events and vice versa, and crucially, and the point of this writing, business events, industry events and destinations are failing to make diversity, equality/equity, and inclusion (DEI) a core part of their strategy.
DEI = Environmental Action. Environmental Action without DEI = Failure.
Here is my belief. If our industry, one which we all love and are passionate about, do not embrace DEI in every aspect of our operations, supplier, or event strategist, I firmly believe that we are looking down the barrel of a gun. The only way to ensure that environmental action takes place is to ensure that DEI is implemented. Families who live in the poorest parts of society, living paycheck to paycheck, are less likely to care where their food comes from or what it’s packaged in. They are fighting for survival. A doctor in a developing nation may struggle to access continued education and training due to travel costs. Where gender equality/equity doesn’t exist or is poor, all voices are not heard, and solutions will not be found. In practical terms, if we do not offer an event that is welcoming, where every single delegate feels safe, that a culture of belonging is nurtured, are we failing?
For every new generation that comes through the ranks, the tolerance of no compliance to DEI diminishes. Non-action is a threat to our reputation, our workforce, and our existence. When we ignore DEI, we exclude talent, we exclude new ideas, we exclude innovation, we exclude discovery, we exclude advancement, we exclude maturity, we exclude fighting the climate crisis. We exclude humanity.
Here comes the positive spin, promise. I’ve just returned from PCMA EMEA in Vienna where Futurist Gerd Leonhard stated, we have the tools to save the world. We just need the will to use them.
We work in an industry that brings people from all backgrounds, unique specialisations, industry pioneers and world leaders together. We work in an industry that uniquely influences positive transformation in society. We work in an industry that can change the world. That is why New Intent exists. We want change, we want DEI, and we have the vision that we all leave this world a better place through the power of meeting face to face. We must and should make DEI topics main stage debates.
It's time that we all meet with New Intent.
Contact us now to start your journey to meeting with New Intent: firstname.lastname@example.org