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Diversity & Inclusion in Events

This morning I was privileged to be asked to chair a session for the AEO cross association working group on the subject of Diversity and Inclusion.


The working group has produced a raft of resources available to members and non-members that I think are incredibly valuable especially if you’re unsure of the subject and want to further your own learning about how we can make our industry more inclusive.

Have a look here – it’s all free.

There are a few thoughts that I had from the session as well as some of the questions asked that I thought would be worth sharing.

A topic of personal interest to me and Twigged, I asked about registration in reference to adding in salutations such as Mr, Mrs or if you do ask gender related questions, should we even be including these in registration going forward? The answer, much like ANY question you ask when collecting data, is to ask yourself do you NEED that information? If the answer is no, drop it. If it is yes, then you need to ensure you include ALL groups, not just those that may be included as “standard” from years gone by.

A number of questions were also asked about the use of pronouns, something I’m sure you’ve all seen on various social profiles of late. The question was asked about what to do if you’re unsure of what to refer to someone as, the simple answer is… just ask. You’d be surprised how many people like to open this conversation and if not, it certainly starts the conversation and begins to normalize different gender types and how people identify themselves. It was also asked if companies should be including this in your email signatures or social bio’s etc. and whilst no one should be forced to do anything they don’t want to do, again, it begins the conversations and can create an open and honest atmosphere in your workplace.

I found this next analogy really interesting. When they talked about normalization, the speaker referenced colour blindness. What’s that got to do with inclusion? Well, you won’t see a colour blind person (of which I am one) excluded from work or events for being colour blind would you? So why would you exclude any other type of person from your events? (although I do understand some roles it is a necessity to not be… I still wish I could have been a fighter pilot – although this has changed in recent years I believe….).

It’s important to note that it’s not all about gender. Inclusion covers nine protected characteristics (as defined by the Equality Act), including; age, gender reassignment, disability, marriage and civil partnerships, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation

It was a fascinating discussion and I’m pleased to have been involved in the conversation. I have definitely taken away a greater understanding of the width and breadth of the gender flag and encourage you to do the same.

If you want to know more or educate yourselves or your businesses please do check out the AEO Hub for more great content on diversity and inclusion.