The foreseeable future is hybrid — which means your events and engagements will be too. And now more than ever, with the pressures of a global pandemic and virtual employees, it is critical to foster a company culture focused on inclusion. Not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because it leads to happy, productive employees and successful companies. This article has been written by Lauren Cater of Mixtroz. The Mixtroz platform facilitates group gathering using real-time data so that every human interaction is an opportunity for meaningful connection. Mixtroz is part of Public Spend Forum’s GovMarket Growth Program, as well as Public Spend Forum and Shatter Fund’s Women-Led Tech Accelerator Cohort.
Let’s set a familiar scene: You walk into an open conference room filled with soft murmurs as small groups of attendees converse. As you scan the room, you notice that, although the host has not assigned participants to specific groups, people have naturally gathered into homogenous subgroupings. Perhaps by gender. Or by race. Or by physical ability. Or maybe even by hair color or height.
And there’s a reason for this. Research shows that people tend to gravitate toward those who are similar to them. But this reaches beyond a simple, superficial selection process. Data goes one step farther to suggest that this tendency directly contributes to the social isolation of marginalized groups. These findings are concerning for workplaces attempting to diversify staffing and create a welcoming environment for all.
Why Fostering an Inclusive Workplace Matters
It’s no wonder that companies are diversifying their workforces. Inclusivity is as good for your employees as it is for your bottom line. However, companies that prioritize inclusivity must actively work to broaden their pool of candidates and emphasize workforce retention.
On a personal level, employees want to feel valued, appreciated, and secure in the workplace. Employees also greatly benefit from the unique perspectives of coworkers across racial lines, gender divides, cultural backgrounds, and sexual orientations, to name a few. Further, employees who feel included experience increased morale and higher levels of job satisfaction. In return, companies benefit from lower turnover, improved productivity, and higher retention rates.
Tips for Making Your Corporate Events More Inclusive
Creating a welcoming environment for all attendees at your corporate event shows that you can talk the talk and walk the walk. It’s one of the most important opportunities you have to impact your company culture positively—so take the steps to make it count.
This is the first thing people notice when they walk in the door. Are they welcomed? Do they have what they need to converse with other attendees? Are you making an impression as a company that promotes accessible inclusion? Here are some questions to ask yourself:
To begin, is your gathering area wheelchair accessible? Are the bathrooms also wheelchair accessible? If you know that any of your attendees have a specific disability, have you planned ahead to ensure all accommodations are in place?
Next, is your space gender and LGBTQ inclusive? What signage is on the bathroom doors? Will attendees list personal pronouns on their nametags? Are questions phrased in a way that is inclusive of all genders and orientations? Are there nursing stations available to those who breastfeed or bottle-feed?
These are small considerations that show you are willing to go the extra mile to make all of your guests feel seen.
Gain Insight from Marginalized Employees
Resist the urge to guess what may make attendees feel most welcome. Instead, get insight from those who belong to a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee or similar advocacy group. When in doubt, conduct research online through interviews with or articles written from the perspective of marginalized people so that you enter event planning discussions well-equipped to answer questions and alleviate concerns.
It is not any individual employee’s responsibility to educate their company about race, gender, or sexual orientation (especially for free). However, if an employee volunteers to get involved, leave the door open for commentary and suggestions before the big day.
Promote Diversity Throughout the Event
Hosting corporate events with a diverse demographic of attendees is not enough. You should also find ways to promote the ideas of people from diverse backgrounds throughout your event. This begins when you book speakers months in advance. Choose speakers that align with your company’s mission and values, but who also may push employees to think outside the box or challenge their prejudices.
It’s also important to take a closer look at the makeup of your event’s leadership team. Who is in charge of planning the event? What are their backgrounds? Do they offer diverse perspectives? If you find a lack of diversity, it may be time to reevaluate.
Overall, it’s essential to promote inclusivity at every level by allowing diverse voices to be heard.
Provide Opportunities for Feedback
After your big event has come to a close, take an honest look at what went well and what could have gone better. Getting honest feedback from your guests is critical to creating more inclusive corporate events in the future. At the same time, you’ll build rapport and demonstrate just how valuable your employees’ opinions are.
There’s no better way to get accurate, honest feedback from attendees than in the moment, at the event. Mixtroz captures real-time data so you don’t have to wonder what’s working and what’s not. All the information is there in front of you as the gathering unfolds.