Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) and Events: Fresh Perspectives for Broadening Your Audience
Updated: Apr 18
The world is changing, and visionary leaders recognize the need to expand the horizon by enlisting fresh perspectives. This means creating diverse, equitable, and inclusive events.
Read on to learn more about how to serve every member of your audience well.
What is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion — or DEI — is a term that began at Carnegie Mellon University in the late 1960s. The goal of programs developed under this ideological umbrella aimed to encourage and support diversity. Over time, DEI became a standard delineation in the business world as well, often as part of human resources initiatives and policies.
Diversity = The practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, etc.
Equity = The quality of being fair and impartial.
Inclusion = The practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized.
Source: Oxford Languages
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are principles that strengthen both the individual and society. Providing DEI in every context is mission critical. Businesses that hope to thrive in a new age will not only create typical operations and protocols that support DEI, but enlist partners and vendors that can do the same.
As many businesses use events of all kinds to win business, build teams, and enhance brand visibility, DEI should be a top priority.
The Business Case for DEI
A 2020 McKinsey report aptly summarized the business case for diversity, equity, and inclusion. In short, analysts concluded that “diversity wins,” and put forth these findings:
Our latest analysis reaffirms the strong business case for both gender diversity and ethnic and cultural diversity in corporate leadership—and shows that this business case continues to strengthen. The most diverse companies are now more likely than ever to outperform less diverse peers on profitability.
The likelihood of financial outperformance by percentage is tracked as follows:
Diversity in Gender
Companies that are diversity leaders in gender diversity are 55% more likely to outperform companies where policies do not promote diversity in gender.
Companies that employ 30% or more female executives are between 10-30% more likely to outperform companies that do not.
There is a 48% difference separating the performance of the most gender-diverse companies to the least gender-diverse companies.
Diversity in Ethnicity
Companies that are diversity leaders in ethnic diversity are 59% more likely to outperform companies where policies don't promote diversity in ethnicity.
The margin of financial outperformance between companies that promote ethnic diversity and those that do not has grown by 36% since 2017.
Analysts found that the greater representation was identified in employee ethnicity, the greater likelihood of financial outperformance of competitors.
Diversity in Cognition
A fairly new component of DEI is the acknowledgement of diversity in cognition. Cognitive diversity efforts bring people together who have different styles of thinking, different habits, and different perspectives. These differences often arise because there are different backgrounds, either culturally or in terms of lifestyle.
It’s clear that attracting and retaining talent from a variety of backgrounds provides a strategic advantage. It is also important that representation is both intentional and prevalent in a company’s messaging. This extends to the nature of hosted events, whether in-person or online.
Creating experiences that support DEI are vital to the ongoing financial health of an organization.
DEI Strategy and Measurement
“Remove the notion that DEI is an ‘initiative,’ which implies it is temporary. DEI concepts shouldn’t be seen as something separate but rather interconnected, core values that help drive everything done within the company.” Christie Lindor, CEO of Tessi Consulting
Very few leaders are unaware of the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion. It is considered part of responsible, future-minded leadership, not to mention ethical conduct in business operations. Success-driven leaders will keep an eye on how effective DEI practices are directly impacting business performance.
Analysts at Gartner reported that 75% of organizations whose frontline decision-making teams were indicative of diversity and inclusivity will exceed financial targets in 2022. There is a 12% difference in employee performance, with diverse organizations being that much farther ahead than non diverse organizations. People who are a part of organizations that value and uphold DEI are happier and stay employed longer.
“We know that there is a correlation between innovation and diversity.” Daniel Sanchez Reina, Senior Director Analyst at Gartner
One of the best ways to ensure your company reaps these benefits — not just indulging in platitudes, but true, engaged application — is to showcase diversity in every event you hold.
How to Create Events That Welcome a Diverse Audience
No business model thrives with exclusivity of diverse people groups or ideas. The events you host from this point onward should always be fueled by proactive efforts toward DEI. Whether in-person or online, expand your reach by making all decisions with as many people as possible in mind.
Does your event theme exclude anyone? Conversely, is it as widely applicable and relevant as possible?
Do your event marketing materials properly include representation or various people groups (genders, races, abilities, etc.)?
Have you made reasonable accommodations for any sub-groups or people with unique needs?
Will every attendee be comfortable with the language, topical coverage, physical or digital accommodations, and speakers?
Will the style of food or beverages appeal to a wide enough audience, or are there options to ensure no one feels excluded because of dietary restrictions or preferences?
DEI isn’t about diluting your message or changing your company’s identity (unless that is an issue). It is about welcoming people from every sector to join you in your cause, mission, purpose, or activities.
DEI Event Ideas
DEI events don’t have to be specifically for that purpose on surrounding topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion. In fact, we’d contend that every event your company ever hosts should be done with DEI in mind. This is a culture moment, an opportunity to practice your principles and create an environment where all voices are acknowledged. It often does require a tactical shift and some intention, and here are some ideas to get you on the right track.
Provide an array of pricing options (note: variety in prices or reduced prices are one of the surprising perks of virtual events).
Use gender-neutral language and provide people with opportunities to register with and identify by their preferred pronouns.
Have balanced representation throughout: speakers, facilitators, breakout leaders, support staff, etc.
Prioritize accessibility: wheelchair accessibility, signage (in multiple languages if needed), having a sign language interpreter on hand, etc.
Balance people’s needs by offering a variety of event activities to meet the needs of different types of learners.
Consider networking options that feel less direct or threatening for introverted individuals.
Make sure your event website is accessible (ADA & WCAG compliant).
Note: The Event Leadership Institute offers an Event DEI Strategist Certificate that provides formal training in these and more areas.
Ask both internal and external stakeholders for feedback, in advance, during the conference, and after the conference. There are many things that your team may not see. A diverse event management or production team can be an enormous support, but you also need to be unafraid to ask for feedback about how an event made people feel. Did they feel included? Did they feel understood? Did it address their needs? This feedback will help you improve processes for every event, ensuring steady progress in the right direction.
The Wynning Experience: The Right Perspective for DEI Event Planning
When it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion in event planning, The Wynning Experience has a fresh perspective. Our goal is to provide a platform that celebrates all people, regardless of their background or identity. We believe that by creating an inclusive space where everyone feels welcome, we can help break down barriers and build a stronger community. If you're looking for a more diverse and equitable event experience, get in touch with us today. We would be happy to chat with you about how we can help!
The Wynning Experience is a minority owned and operated company. If one of your company’s commitments is to attract and serve a broader audience through live or hybrid events, go here to learn more.