Equality and diversity aren’t new ideas, and yet so many cases of unnecessarily homogeneous representation exist in our lives.
We’ve all been to a conference where the panel of experts are all middle-aged, upper income, white guys. There might be one or two female presenters and one or two people of other ethnicities, but overall there is a definite trend. In most cases, this is not actually representative of the industry, and it is almost never representative of the consumers of the industry that is being discussed.
This is not to say that the presenters don’t have valid opinions, however, they can only speak from their own perspective and knowledge. The more diverse your speakers are, the more diverse your perspectives will be.
Let’s fix this.
- Get more diversity on the panels
- Ask the sponsors to bring more diversity to the event
- Get more diversity on your event team
There’s so much information out there about having a diverse team encourages out of the box thinking and great ideas, so why not reflect that on the panel as well? If you have a conference with a panel coming up, but can only identify say, middle-aged white men as experts to put on your panel, think about:
Who is your audience? Ask those people to be panellists, it will widen your discussion and give an opportunity to someone who could be a great speaker
Network your way to new panellists. Give yourself a long lead-in time to identify talent. Use that time to plant the seed with someone who wouldn’t normally be up on stage.
Get the sponsors to show diversity as well. Most sponsorship packages include a couple of tickets to the conference and a booth to engage with attendees. Distribute a couple more tickets and encourage sponsors to bring a diverse range of people to fill those seats. Having a more diverse representation of sponsor attendees ensures that different conversations are had with different people, which does affect ROI.
Finally, look internally at your team. Have you recruited a team that reflects the attendees? If you have you’ll be better placed to deliver an event that caters and appeals to everyone. You’ll hear ideas you may not have heard before and learn where different groups get their information from. You may even find a new advertising forum to attract a whole new sector you hadn’t considered.
Being actively aware of diversity and inclusion will make your conference more successful. You’ll be benefitting your organisation, your conference, and your industry.