Meeting Mentor Magazine

May 2024

LinkedIn Post Leads to Directory of Black Speakers

When HR and DEI Consultancy Founder Madison Butler wrote a LinkedIn post about not waiting until the last minute to book a speaker for Black History Month — and not to ask them to speak for free — she had no idea that it would spark so much response. In fact, so many Black speakers left their contact information and areas of expertise in that post’s comment section that it took on a life of its own, first as a Google spreadsheet, then as the  Black Speakers Collection website.

The website now has a list of hundreds of Black speakers — and it continues to grow. As Butler notes in her post, in January Black speakers suddenly get a lot of requests to speak at events in February, which is Black History Month. And most want them to speak for no charge. “If you care about Black people, pay us for our time, expertise and IP,” she wrote. As a bonus tip, she said, “Black speakers can talk about things other than DEI and Blackness. Pay us and recognize all of the things we’re capable of,” right before asking Black speakers to drop their topics and contact information in the comments.

Each speaker can add topic tags to their entry, and the list of available topics goes well beyond DEI, stretching from artificial intelligence, branding and cloud computing to venture capital, leadership and vision/purpose.

As one speaker said in her comment to the post, “Thank you so much for saying what we’re all thinking!” But Butler didn’t stop with the website directory. She’s now planning to add a Slack channel specifically for Black speakers where they can talk about pricing issues, marketing and other topics around managing a speaking business, Butler told Convene.

USTA and Tourism Diversity Matters Partner

In other DEI-related news, the U.S. Travel Association (USTA) and Tourism Diversity Matters have announced a new strategic partnership designed to provide travel professionals with better access to Tourism Diversity Matters’ content, expertise, research and other resources.

Tourism Diversity Matters was founded earlier this year to provide insight into ethnic disparities in the tourism and events industries and help leaders in those industries find ways to engage, recruit and retain a more diverse workforce.

A key goal of Tourism Diversity Matters is to affiliate with industry partners such as U.S. Travel Association to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion solutions that will benefit the tourism and events industry as a whole, said Greg DeShields, Executive Director of Tourism Diversity Matters and a speaker at a recent ConferenceDirect CDX event in Michigan. “We welcome this new partnership and look forward to the positive impact that will come from our work together.”

Tourism Diversity Matters has also partnered with Temple University’s School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management and San Diego State University’s L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality and Tourism Management to conduct academic research and facilitate workforce development.

“U.S. Travel Association has a clear vision: In working closely with Tourism Diversity Matters, we aim to help the travel sector achieve a truly diverse, equitable and inclusive industry for all,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO, U.S. Travel Association and board member, Tourism Diversity Matters. “Aligning with Tourism Diversity Matters is a great step toward this pursuit that will enrich U.S. Travel’s membership for years to come.”







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