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  • Felicia Asiedu

Are you doing enough to make your events inclusive? - DSB @ CONFEX 2022

Updated: Mar 12

It was an absolute blast to be invited to speak at International CONFEX 2022 on a topic that is near and dear to our hearts. The show was absolutely buzzing this year and definitely represented the kind of exhibition we were used to attending way back in 2019. From camper vans and a man putting people inside bubbles, to the very busy show floor packed full of event and hospitality suppliers, buyers and students, it seemed like business as usual.


But one thing was distinctly different. The mix of people and the incorporation of topics around diversity, wellness and equality was bold and on display. The People & Culture Hub, situated right at the entrance to the show, captured the attention of all visitors and for good reason. With so many groups on one stand - EventWell, FastForward15, Event First Steps, Diverse Speaker Bureau and Events 101 to name just a few - and run by our very own Gabby Austen-Browne on day 1 and Shonali Devereaux on day 2, the hub was a fantastic representation of the world in which we live and was the epicenter of conversation around how to enable true inclusivity in events.


One of the finest moments of the event (well we would say that) was the opportunity the DSB team were given to discuss the ways in which event and hospitality profs can ensure events are diverse and inclusive whilst avoiding mindless checkbox practices. With a particular focus on our speaker code of conduct, the audience was given some best practices on how to ensure their events and particularly their speakers line-ups are doing justice to supporting inclusivity in events rather than simply championing representation.


Specific focus was given to the DICE charter (Diversity & Inclusion at Conferences and Events), with a deep dive into how working towards the charter arms event and hospitality professionals with a set of clear guidelines to follow to deliver more inclusive events. If the charter is used as a guide to deliver better events, that is a good first step. But why not go all the way and try to create DICE certified and recommended events? Yes that is absolutely something you can do.


There are ten sections to the charter:


PARTICIPATION AND LINE UP (60%)

1. GENDER

2. RACE

3. AGE

4. PANELS

5. DISABILITY AND NEURODIVERSITY

6. CLASS AND EDUCATION


THEME AND CONTENT (20%)

7. AGENDA

8. HATE SPEECH


ATTENDEES AND MARKETING (20%)

9. MARKETING

10. GENERAL ACCESSIBILITY


A maximum of 10% is awarded per section, with the overall maximum score of 100% being available. There is no expectation for anyone to score 100% so the scoring and award matrix is as follows:

  • <39% Poor - NO DICE.

  • >40 <59% OK - DICE CERTIFIED.

  • >60 <89% Great - DICE CERTIFIED AND APPROVED.

  • >90 <100% Perfect - DICE CERTIFIED AND RECOMMENDED EVENT

We love the DICE charter and recommend you check it out and try your best to work towards the certification. During the discussion we used our own panel to showcase the fact that our panel, made up of the 4 co-founders of Diverse Speaker Bureau, would be NO DICE! We are 4 heterosexual, brown women, with 10 years between us in age. We are far more similar than we are different which means our panel lacked diversity. That lack of diversity meant we could not possibly be fully inclusive of the diversification of thinking that is needed to have more well-rounded discussions.


There were likely areas we could not cover because we did not fully appreciate or understand them. At one point Gabby contemplated and pointed out the fact that the stage itself was not even accessible. She pondered "how would someone in a wheelchair even get onto this stage?" Though both panelists and audience all nodded in agreement, we truly have no idea of the impact an inaccessible stage has on a particular sub-section of society and therefore that is where the conversation ends. We can't do justice to representing the views of those that are other than ourselves and that was one of the points that was made clear during the panel.


This is one of the reasons why diversifying panels is so important for content at events. This is what we mean when we say you need to think about your speaker line ups - not simply to have representation, but to be inclusive of diverse thinking. To understand the viewpoints of those that literally have different viewpoints. This is likely one of the reasons why the DICE charter scores the area of participation and line up so highly.


We know it can be difficult to spend a great deal of focus on this area but that is where organisations like the Diverse Speaker Bureau can help. We take the time to understand your content, your vision and your objectives and source the right speaker for your events. When you work with DSB, you get a speaker that matches your content needs and can add value to the conversation. The more speakers you source from us, the more you can guarantee your panels and speakers will be diverse. All our speakers self identify their are of diversity and we ensure that our speakers are truly representative of the world.


To find out more about how to work with us, contact us today


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