Friday, July 19, 2024
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Fostering Inclusivity

A roadmap for successful and inclusive meetings and events

By Kate De Master

In an increasingly diverse and interconnected world, the importance of hosting inclusive meetings and events is essential. By doing so, meeting planners can create safe spaces where all individuals—regardless of background, ability, or identity—can actively participate in the meeting experience. Such environments ensure that attendees are not only present, but also valued, heard, and respected. By including diverse voices, planners and attendees alike can benefit from a variety of ideas and perspectives which all lead to greater innovation and success.

By encouraging and celebrating diversity and inclusivity, planners and attendees alike can benefit from a variety of ideas and perspectives. || Image by Oliver, courtesy of Adobe

Inclusive Trends for 2024

The landscape of meetings and events is constantly evolving, and increased inclusivity is at the forefront of this shift. Some of the most notable trends this year include:

  • Multilingual Signage: Incorporating signage and materials printed in different languages can cater to diverse attendees and ensure inclusive access to pertinent information.
  • Dedicated Spaces: Renewed emphasis on inclusivity has encouraged venues to offer designated rooms for lactating mothers as well as designated quiet spaces including prayer rooms, meditation spaces, or sensory rooms.
  • Accessibility: Planners are allowing ample time between sessions and breaks to facilitate smooth transitions for attendees with limited mobility.
  • Inclusive Services: Having a sign language interpreter at event sessions enables those who are deaf or hard of hearing to participate, and expanding beverage options to include light and non-alcoholic cocktails and beer ensures there’s something for everyone.

Ensuring Venue Accessibility

When researching or booking venues for inclusive events, planners should ask specific questions to guarantee accessibility such as the following:

  • Does the venue offer ramp access for the stage and risers?
  • Is the setup adaptable to accommodate people with mobility aids?
  • Is the location and destination LGBTQ+ friendly and welcoming?
  • For off-site events, are there public transportation routes to and from the venues?
  • Can the venue accommodate dietary restrictions and faith-based dietary needs?

Collaboration Is Key

To ensure every detail is meticulously planned and executed, collaboration between planners and venues is essential. This will allow all parties to ensure that every detail is well planned and necessary expectations are met. During this time, the venue staff can present how they will be advocates for every attendee while also allowing everyone to talk through all possibilities and outcomes before arriving at the venue the day of the event.

While pre-event surveys can be helpful, it is recommended that a planner begin with identifying the primary audience and defining the event’s goals. Tailoring the event to meet the diverse needs of each and every attendee is essential to creating a truly inclusive experience.

Additional Considerations for Inclusivity

Initiating discussions on inclusivity early in the planning process is critical as it requires thoughtful strategy from beginning to end. Planners should also be mindful of attendees with more specific sensitivities or needs, such as those prone to seizures, in which case lighting would need to be carefully considered. For individuals with chemical sensitivities, avoiding strong scents from candles or cleaning products is important to ensuring their comfort and well-being.

Ultimately, hosting inclusive meetings and events is not just a trend but also an integral part of modern event planning. By embracing inclusivity, planners create environments where diversity thrives, innovation flourishes, and everyone can participate fully by bringing their whole self to the event.