ON THE AGENDA
tudies show the more
diverse a workplace is, the
better it is for the company’s bottom line. A Harvard
Business School survey of
250 firms found that those
with greater diversity among their em-
ployees made between 18 and 69 percent
more in net income than those with a
more homogenous team. Companies with
the greatest ethnic, gender, sexual orienta-
tion, and racial diversity are 35 percent
more likely to see financial returns above
their respective national industry me-
dians, according to research conducted
by consultancy McKinsey & Company.
What many of us have felt and known
intuitively is becoming harder to ignore:
diversity matters in business and that includes meetings and conferences.
“Diversity is the new normal,” says
David Jefferys, president and CEO of
the Altus Agency and founder and executive director of the LGBT Meeting
Professionals Association (LGBT MPA).
The association has grown to 500
members and is having its first annual
workshop and networking event this
November. A strategic goal of LGBT
MPA is to partner with organizations like
the National Coalition of Black Meeting
Planners and support their model of di-
versity and inclusion.
Although optimism is strong, there
still are challenges to overcome. Some industry experts feel that given the current
political climate, diversity may actually
start to wane. The recent clash between
white supremacists and counterprotest-ers in Charlottesville, VA, demonstrated
that anti-diversity sentiments are hardly a
thing of the past.
Here is a look at the state of diversity in
the meetings and events industry.
Progress in Jeopardy?
“I fear that diversity might slip down
the agenda. There is the risk of the rise
of nationalism and anti-diversity orga-
nizations, as evidenced by the events
in Charlottesville and the White House
response,” says Rohit Talwar, an interna-
tionally renowned futurist and CEO of
U.K.–based Fast Future Research. “This
may have a bearing on business diversity
and hence meetings.”
Martin Sirk, chief executive offi-
cer of the International Congress and
the meetings industry
is moving toward a