Meeting Mentor Magazine

June 2024

One Easy Way to Make the Events Industry More Diverse and Equitable

The Events Industry Council has extended the deadline for taking part in its Diversity-Equity-Inclusion survey, which is the first phase of EIC’s new Equity Acceleration Plan. The plan is part of EIC’s Centre for Sustainability and Social Impact, which was established to address pan-industry issues with advocacy, research and data.

The survey results will be used to establish a benchmark for the meeting and events industry’s current practices when it comes to diversity and inclusion (DEI). EIC, the umbrella organization for the meeting and convention industry plans to use the survey findings to develop a report, new educational resources and benchmarks events industry organizations can use to measure their own progress against D&I goals.

“This isn’t about passing judgment about what’s done in the past. It’s about inspiring a different perspective and different solutions,” said EIC CEO Amy Calvert.

Jason Dunn Sr., co-chair of the EIC Equity Task Force and immediate past chairman of the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals and vice president, Cincinnati USA Convention and Visitors Bureau, said, “I believe that tourism empowers communities and business events can be a driver for change,” Dunn said. “This survey is an important step toward emboldening our global industry to lead and be an example of how to move the moral compass of DE&I to the center of everything we do.”

Helping Events Become Catalysts for Change

When the issues around systemic racism, violence and death of people of color at the hands of police exploded into the public’s consciousness in 2020 after the death of George Floyd, it became clear that the industry should take “the opportunity and the responsibility to be a catalyst for meaningful and measurable change,” said Calvert, adding that meetings and events are uniquely positioned for this work, with more than 10.3 million direct jobs and more 1.5 billion participants, and as the industry that at its heart fosters human connection and collaborations.

In addition, “The pandemic has brought to light just how much of the events industry is comprised of small and medium-sized businesses that are minority and women-owned, and they just don’t have access to the resources available to some of the very large global companies,” said Calvert.

While many industry organizations have already created DEI programs, Calvert said many of the U.S. events industry leaders she’s spoken with are upfront about acknowledging that they’re not sure the programs are actually making the difference they were designed to make. The plan is designed to be a long-term project that, in addition to providing tools and resources, will measure the impact of interventions and provide suggestions for making workplaces, and events, more diverse and inclusive.

“We want this to be very interactive,” said Calvert. “We hope to lift up individual voices, who then can lift up the industry. The peer-to-peer dialogue and collaboration within this industry is one of its greatest gifts.”

The Four Pillars of Change

Announced in September, EIC’s Equity Acceleration Plan has four long-term areas of focus:

  • Creating voluntary guidelines for policies and practices in the workplace and marketplace
  • Developing strategies for attracting diverse talent, such as scholarships, mentors, and education program
  • Making recommendations for career pathways that can lead to more diversity in events-industry leadership
  • Delivering tools for creating inclusive events and diverse supply chains

“These four areas of focus are important to our industry — and to all industries, really,” said Calvert. “They draw attention to our own bias, both conscious and unconscious, and the need to put programs in place that help people advocate internally within their own organizations.

But you can’t do that without first determining where the industry is on D&I currently. Then the EIC D&I Task Force will devise a plan that could be measured and monitored over time to see which interventions and training resources really do move that needle, said Calvert.

“I’m excited about it because we have this commitment to ask ourselves the difficult questions in a very transparent way, put together these tools and resources, and have a benchmark we can collectively use to measure our progress,” she said.

“We are going to see change, because when individual leaders begin to advocate for change, they will change hearts and minds,” she added.

EIC has gathered support from many industry partners, including ASAE, Discover Puerto Rico, Disney Meetings & Events, IAEE, Louisville Tourism, Marriott, PCMA, US Travel, SearchWide Global and Simpleview. EIC also has partnered with Tharoor Associates, a London-based consultancy that specializes in addressing unconscious bias in organizations globally, and Culturelytics, a data analytics company that developed an AI platform to analyze culture in organizations. “It was important to find a partner that had worked globally to help develop guidance that is both locally relevant but also useful around the globe,” Calvert said.

The survey that kicks off the Plan is designed to gather insights, experiences and opinions from event professionals around the world, using Culturelytics’ AI-powered Chatbot to explore people’s beliefs and behaviors around DEI across the global events industry.

Calvert urges all in the events industry to participate in the survey, which is available at

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