Diversity in Events: Time to Call for a Change?

Diversity in Events: Time to Call for a Change?

04 April 2023

Generating billions of pounds in revenue every year, the UK events industry is a vital part of the country’s economy. However, the industry has long struggled with issues of diversity and representation. Let’s face it, the majority of people working in the UK events industry are young, white and female. However, most representatives or owners of companies or senior post-holders are dominated by white, male and able-bodied individuals, leaving little room for people from diverse backgrounds to participate and thrive. As the UK events industry continues to grow, the topic of diversity is becoming increasingly prevalent, particularly within the corporate sphere. While there are efforts being made, there is still a long way to go before the industry can be considered truly representative of the population.

As a woman of mixed heritage, diversity and inclusion have always held a position close to my heart. Coming into the events industry, as an outside perspective, it's clear that there is a considerable amount of work to do.

This lack of diversity is a problem that needs to be addressed, not only from a moral standpoint but also from a business perspective. Studies have shown that diverse teams are more innovative, productive, and profitable than homogenous ones. In other words, if the events industry wants to continue to grow and succeed, it needs to become more diverse and inclusive.

One of the main challenges is the lack of representation at all levels. From event planning and management to guest speakers and performers, people from diverse backgrounds are often underrepresented or excluded altogether. This is particularly true for people of colour, disabled people, and LGBTQ+ individuals. This lack of diversity is not only a moral issue, but it also has practical implications. For example, if events are not designed with diverse audiences in mind, they may fail to engage with certain groups, which could have a negative impact on attendance and revenue.

However, there are also those who argue that diversity should not be a priority in the events industry, and that it is more important to focus on delivering high-quality events that meet the needs of the target audience, regardless of their ethnicity, gender, or background. This argument tends to miss the point though. A diverse and inclusive event is not only more ethically sound, but it is also likely to be more successful and profitable in the long run. By excluding diverse voices, the events industry is missing out on valuable perspectives, ideas, and opportunities.

Another key aspect of increasing diversity is the need to create safe and welcoming spaces for all attendees. This means actively challenging and addressing discriminatory behaviour, including microaggressions and hate speech. It also means taking steps to ensure that all attendees feel valued and included, regardless of their background or identity.

While there are some efforts being made to address these issues, such as levels of training and the establishment of targets, progress is slow. Should the industry be taking more drastic action through measures such as introducing quotas or implementing mandatory diversity training?

Diversity is a complex and multifaceted issue. While progress is being made, there is still a long way to go before the industry can be considered truly representative of the UK population. Only then can the industry truly be considered a force for good in society.


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