GLOBAL – Black in Events, a global platform representing black professionals in the events industry, officially launched today.
The goal of the platform is to bring awareness and opportunities to a “growing and underrepresented group who continue to contribute their service, dollars, and knowledge” to the meetings and events industry.
To mark its launch, its founders, Keneisha Williams and Ashanti Bentil-Dhue hosted a webinar featuring the industry’s most prominent voices, influencers, and experts. Topics discussed included how to keep your business thriving, how to leverage event technology, and how to manage mental health.
We tuned in to the official launch and distilled the five best takeaways from the event that you need to know regarding diversity and inclusion, which was a major topic during the webinar.
- Black people shouldn’t be hired to solely plan black events
Joey Addai, head of broadcast events at the UK’s Global, said during the Black In Events panel that giving opportunities to black planners is key to diversifying the industry.
“I think the biggest challenge in our industry right now is not having representation at all levels. Because when people come into our industry, and they don’t see people at the top that look like them, they feel like they can’t get there,” he said. “We need to give these opportunities to them. The talent is there. We need to give that talent the opportunity to showcase what they can do. We need to start pivoting away from ‘this person is black, so we are going to give them black events’. No. They can do everything and anything they put their mind to.”
- Seek out black vendors for your event
Corporate meeting planner, Erika Summers from Chicago stressed the importance of collaboration. She said that there is so much more the industry can do when it comes to hiring black talent and black vendors.
“My priority as a black planner is to always bring on black vendors and suppliers to assist,” she said. “So every event that I work on, I have to have at least one. And that’s the way that I give back and mentor. My goal is to come up with a preferred vendor list that is all black because I want people to know that we’re out here. Because if I can get that into the hands of different organizations and planners, then it won’t be difficult for them to find people of colour to do the job.”
- There is no better time to be black than right now
Aja Bradley-Kemp, founder and chief experience officer of Conversate Collective reminded the audience that there no better time than the present for the black community because the attention is on them and their voices right now.
“Were living in a really amazing, historic time,” she said. “I want to say being black right now, there is almost no greater time because there is so much happening in a positive way. Yes, there are a lot of struggles and a lot of things we want to change, but the attention is on us right now and people are actively looking to help us in ways there hasn’t been before. Take advantage of that.
She added that collaboration should be put above the competition and reminded the audience that there is an abundance of talent in the industry, and so to work together to solve these issues, is ideal.
- Stop hiring minorities to only talk about diversity
Julius Solaris, editor in chief of Event Manager Blog, said that to really diversify your next event, you need to do more than hire someone of colour to speak at your next event about diversity itself.
“Something I never understood is why panelists in this industry are mostly all white males when the industry itself is made up of mostly women,” he said. “I’ve been trying to put myself aside there. But for us, we’ve been trying to increase the diversity of our speaker lineup and move away from people of colour talking about diversity itself. We want them to speak about business. We are really trying to challenge that.”
- There is no better time to be in the events industry
And finally, while this has been a trying time in the events industry history, Solaris reminded the audience that there is no better time to be in the events industry than right now.
“The perspective here is that if you just joined the industry, or if you’re been around for years, this is the best time to be involved in the industry,” he said. “We’ve never seen this level of change in the events industry before and we’ve been advocating for it for years. I think that there’s never been a more exciting time to be in the industry but we need a plan. We need to keep our eye on the ball and the ball is to thrive and advance communities within our industry.”