What Makes Future Business Events Diverse & Inclusive?
Wall of Ideas on Diversity at the Germany Stand at IMEX Frankfurt 2023
This years’ IMEX Frankfurt kicked off on German Diversity Day, May 23th, 2023. The GCB took this opportunity to initiate several diversity campaigns to raise awareness and to spark a dialogue about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the events industry. Even before the start of IMEX, the GCB had signed the German corporate initiative “Diversity Charter”, thus actively promoting an appreciative and prejudice-free working environment. On German Diversity Day, the Germany stand at IMEX Frankfurt hosted the Diversity Quiz 'n' Lunch presented by the Cologne Convention Bureau, and a joint photo campaign with the initiative She Means Community. Both activities enabled the participants to network, share experiences and thoughts on the topic of diversity in order to learn from one another.
During the entire three days of the trade show, visitors also had the opportunity to post their ideas on the topic of "What makes future business events diverse and inclusive?" on a large wall in the Activation Area of the Germany stand F100. Evaluating the contributions from participants from all over the world shows clear priorities in the areas of accessibility, speaker selection, feedback, and evaluation.
According to several contributions, future business events should prioritize the issue of accessibility and, where possible, make appropriate provisions for participants with disabilities. This includes barrier-free entrances that can also be passed with wheelchairs, the provision of sign language interpreters and subtitling services, and the provision of materials in alternative formats. This ensures that everyone can participate fully. In addition, inclusive language and communication helps creating a welcoming environment – including avoiding gendered language, addressing cultural specificities, and fostering respectful and inclusive dialogue among participants.
Representation and Diverse Speakers
Other contributions from the IMEX diversity campaign focus on the selection of speakers. Accordingly, event organizers should ensure that speakers and panelists have diverse representation. This includes not only gender balance, but also a variety of perspectives based on the different diversity dimensions. Speakers with diverse backgrounds enrich events and can offer a broader range of expertise and experience.
Diversity Training and Education
To raise awareness, business events of the future should also include educational elements on diversity – for example workshops and training sessions. Possible content could include unconscious bias, intercultural competence, or strategies for creating inclusive workplaces. In addition, feedback and evaluation are of great importance: organizers who actively solicit feedback from participants can identify areas for improvement and make their future events even more inclusive. And last but not least: Active networking fosters diverse interactions. Bringing together people from different backgrounds broadens horizons and thus contributes to finding new solutions to the complex challenges of our time.
Comprehensively diverse and inclusive meetings, conferences and congresses cannot be realized "overnight". However, step by step and by taking the above aspects into account, among other things, all stakeholders of business events can create an environment in which people with different backgrounds feel welcome and valued. Diversity thus becomes a core value in the entire planning and implementation process of an event.