Imagine walking into a corporate event and feeling like you truly belong. You see people from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences, all coming together to celebrate diversity and inclusivity. It feels good and you want to not only stick around but engage fully, in the event and in your role in the company.

This is the power of corporate events that prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

As an event planner who has organized numerous DEI events, I have witnessed firsthand the impact these gatherings can have on individuals and organizations.

But if you (or your boss) isn’t convinced about how important events like this are, let me tell you why, and how you can start planning for success too.

The Benefits of a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace

A diverse and inclusive workplace is one where employees from all backgrounds, cultures, and experiences feel valued, respected, and supported. This type of environment offers numerous benefits, both for individual employees and the organization as a whole.

First, diversity brings a wealth of perspectives and ideas to the table. When you have people from different backgrounds and experiences working together, they can approach problems and challenges from unique angles, leading to more creative and innovative solutions. This is particularly important in industries like health care, where understanding and serving the needs of diverse patient populations is crucial.

Moreover, having diverse decision-makers at all levels of an organization ensures that a wide range of considerations and viewpoints are taken into account. If you don’t have diverse groups of people making decisions, you risk missing out on valuable insights and perspectives that could help your company better serve its customers and stakeholders.

Beyond the business benefits, a diverse and inclusive workplace also creates a sense of belonging and community for employees. When people feel like they can bring their whole selves to work and that their unique contributions are valued, they are more likely to be engaged, motivated, and loyal to their employer. This can lead to higher retention rates, lower turnover costs, and a more positive company culture overall.

Corporate Events that Celebrate Diversity

When planning corporate events that celebrate diversity, consider incorporating the following elements:

  1. Diverse speakers: Invite speakers from different races, backgrounds, genders and experiences to share their stories and perspectives. This could include inspirational keynote speakers, such as individuals with disabilities or those from underrepresented communities, who can share their triumphs and challenges.
  2. Cultural celebrations: Host events that showcase and celebrate the diverse cultures represented within your organization. This could include traditional food, music, dance, or art from different regions of the world. Encourage employees to share their cultural traditions and stories with their colleagues.
  3. Diversity and inclusion summits: Plan a multi-day summit that brings together employees, leaders, and experts to learn about and discuss various aspects of diversity and inclusion. Include keynote speakers from diverse backgrounds, panel discussions on relevant topics, and interactive workshops that promote cultural competence and understanding.
  4. Employee resource group (ERG) events: Support and empower your organization’s ERGs by providing them with resources and platforms to host their own events. These could include networking mixers, educational seminars, or community service projects that align with the group’s mission and values.
  5. Diversity and inclusion awards: Recognize and celebrate individuals or teams within your organization who have made significant contributions to advancing diversity and inclusion. This could include awards for mentorship, advocacy, or leadership in creating a more inclusive workplace culture.
  6. Inclusive team-building activities: Design team-building events that promote collaboration, communication, and understanding among employees from different backgrounds. This could include activities like diversity and inclusion-themed escape rooms, cultural scavenger hunts, or storytelling workshops.

Ensuring Accessibility and Inclusion

To create a truly inclusive event, it’s essential to consider accessibility and ensure that all attendees feel welcome and accommodated. Some key considerations include:

  1. Physical accessibility: Choose event venues that are fully accessible to individuals with mobility impairments, and ensure that there are adequate accommodations like ramps, elevators, and accessible seating. Follow ADA guidelines for stage access, and provide ample space for wheelchairs at tables.
  2. Communication access: Provide captions, sign language interpretation, and other assistive technologies to ensure that attendees with hearing impairments can engage with the content and participate in discussions.
  3. Inclusive language and content: Use language and materials that are respectful and inclusive of all attendees, avoiding assumptions or stereotypes based on race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or other identities. Provide content warnings for potentially triggering topics.
  4. Dietary and religious considerations: Offer a variety of food options that accommodate different dietary needs and restrictions, such as vegan, halal, and kosher options. Provide a designated prayer or meditation space for attendees who require it.
  5. Inclusive scheduling: Be mindful of scheduling events on religious or cultural holidays or during non-traditional work hours like evenings and weekends. Provide childcare options to enable parents and caregivers to attend.
  6. Feedback and ongoing improvement: Solicit feedback from attendees after each event to understand what worked well and where there is room for improvement. Continuously iterate and refine your approach to ensure that your events are as inclusive and accessible as possible.

Hosting Corporate Events with Diversity and Inclusion

In a world that is becoming increasingly diverse, creating corporate events that celebrate and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion is not just a nice-to-have – it’s a business imperative. By bringing together people from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences, these events foster a sense of belonging, spark innovation, and drive organizational success.

As an event planner (by role or by necessity), you have the power to create meaningful, impactful experiences that promote diversity and inclusion in your organization. By incorporating diverse programming, ensuring accessibility, and prioritizing inclusivity at every stage of the planning process, you can design events that leave a lasting impression on attendees and contribute to a more equitable and just workplace culture.

So, as you start planning your next corporate event, I encourage you to keep diversity and inclusion at the forefront of your mind. Seek out diverse perspectives, create opportunities for authentic connection and learning, and strive to make every attendee feel valued, respected, and supported. Together, we can create a world where everyone has a seat at the table and every voice is heard.