Fighting for Diversity
for the LGBT Meeting Professionals Association chair's perspective on the fight for diversity in our industry.
June is Pride Month, a time to embrace and celebrate sexual diversity and freedom of expression. As meeting professionals, we should strive to provide a welcoming environment for all attendees, including those who identify as LGBT+.
Following are some simple suggestions from Jim Clapes, events manager for the Specialty Food Association and chair of the LGBT Meeting Professionals Association.
How to Make Your Event Inclusive and LGBT+ Friendly
Designate some single-gender restrooms near your meeting space as gender-neutral rooms that can be used by anyone, regardless of their gender expression or identity.
Allow people to designate their gender identity or preferred pronouns on their name badges, if they so choose. This can be done with ribbons that stick to the badge.
Be sure your session presenters include women, people of color and individuals from the LGBT+ community.
Study your marketing. Does it depict men and women of diverse ethnicities? Does it show gay couples?
5. Site Selection
Make sure you're working with cities and venues that have shown a commitment to inclusion. Look at policies and sentiment regarding LGBT+ rights and diversity in general.
Consider specifying in your contracts that if any anti-LGBT+ legislation is enacted at the state level, you can cancel without penalty. (You might face some pushback, especially for smaller events. You’ll have more leverage for large meetings and conferences.)
Depending on the nature of the meeting and the composition of the attendance, consider having an LGBT+ mixer. This allows people to connect with others who identify as LGBT+, adding to the overall sense of inclusion.
8. Anti-Harassment Policy
Issue a nondiscrimination and anti-harassment policy that must be agreed to upon registering for the event.