Diversity and inclusion is a hot topic these days, and for good reason. Bringing in multiple perspectives and backgrounds fuels creative thinking and challenges people to see things from a different perspective.
The event production world is not excluded from this latest trend. Now more than ever, expert event producers are exected to cater events to more diverse audiences and enhance the level of inclusivity while onsite.
This is about much more than checking off demographic tally marks. Making your event more diverse and inclusive means committing to the very idea that different perspectives make the whole more valuable.
As such, the following tips are meant to make your event more authentically diverse, rather than superficially. Introduce different ideas, and your audience will love your event more for it.
How To Make Your Event Diverse
Bring in food
One of the best and easiest ways to create interesting, diverse and enjoyable experiences is to offer guests something new that tastes good. People may get excited about sampling dishes from different countries.
This can also be a fun way to spice up a bland conference meal of meatballs or veggie platters. A caterer or venue may have more international options or you may even consider bringing in a new restaurant or caterer that focuses on different cuisine or ethnicities. People can enjoy new flavors and maybe even want to try these treats later.
Bring in drinks
If your conference does have liquor available, you can also include details about where different drinks or flavors come from. This can provide opportunities for education as well as sampling new beverages.
Even common drinks that people may not have experienced, such as sake, might be fun to tie in with other activities. The usual cautions apply about not overserving or being sure to offer alternatives for non-drinkers – but this could also allow the introduction of juices and soft drinks as well.
Every culture has some form of dance or music and you, as an event planner, have a schedule to fill. It’s a great opportunity to bring in different music from different cultures in your community. It could be authentic dancers or even people trying to learn them, such as a local dance studio that teaches the hula or various Spanish dances.
If you know that some guests come from different parts of the world, and they’re comfortable with it, you can ask them to share details about something common to the conference theme that might be interesting to everyone.
Like how they practiced their career in their previous country that might be different or similar to how they’re practicing it now. This could be an illuminating and interesting presentation or panel to get people thinking “we’re all pretty similar.”
If you have recent or fairly recent hires from different countries or cultures, you can ask the whole group to welcome them. They may each have different stories about how they got where they are.
Invite other community members
Look for community members who are part of different cultural groups or religions to be involved in some way, even by attending a breakfast or lunch.
Share educational information
Brochures or index cards at table settings can provide details about different celebrations and cultures and the meaning of them. Guests are often more likely to read something light and interesting at their own pace if it’s placed in front of them rather than part of a larger presentation or speaker. Having this info at food, snack or beverage tables can even help as conversation starters.
Every conference guest likes to go home with ‘stuff’ so consider some kind of favor that will make everyone think positively about different views and cultures. This could be educational materials, items crafted in Third World countries, information about ways to help international charities or even a coupon to a local retailer that offers international food or gifts.
Overall, conferences can be a perfect time to get people to learn while they’re having fun. Adding a diversity component can provide an exciting opportunity to increase cultural enrichment and create a memorable and valuable experience.