Top DEI Considerations When Selecting Event Venues
By: Travis Pham, Global Business Director
You’ve probably heard the acronym DEI being used more and more frequently as the concept becomes the standard for best-in-class workplaces. It stands for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and it means making sure everyone feels represented, safe, and included in the workplace – no matter their race, ethnicity, gender, age, physical ability, and socioeconomic background.
Companies that adopt and implement strong DEI practices often find that their employees are much happier at their jobs because they feel welcomed and embraced. Beyond the confines of the office, DEI practices should extend through every facet and endeavor you pursue – and even the partners you work with! This means that if you’re hosting an event – whether it’s a conference, a team-building program, or an incentive program – you should consider how your venue of choice will help support your DEI efforts.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Venue Selection Checklist
As you work to plan upcoming events, it’s crucial to ensure that the venue you choose takes a strong and robust approach to DEI. Here are a few considerations that should top your event venue checklist.
1. ENSURE ACCESSIBILITY FOR EVERYONE
For an event venue to be truly inclusive, it should be fully accessible to individuals with disabilities, and this goes well beyond the typical first thought, which is wheelchair ramps. Elevators, accessible restrooms, designated parking spaces, and appropriate signage ensure that differently-abled attendees can navigate the venue with ease. If you’re working with 360DG, our team will always point these features out to you so that you know where they are and can relay the information to event guests.
2. REMAIN SENSITIVE TO CULTURAL DIFFERENCES
Much like accessibility, the idea of recognizing and respecting diverse cultures and backgrounds goes beyond just offering vegetarian options. The cultural needs of your attendees can include amenities like prayer rooms, gender-neutral restrooms, appropriate signage with language translations, sensitivity to allergies and other dietary restrictions, and more. To understand the needs of attendees for a particular event, it’s essential to ask the right questions during your site visit. Communicate that you’d like to make sure that all guests feel included, and maybe even come up with a list of requirements that gets the conversation started.
3. FOCUS ON REPRESENTATION AND INCLUSIVITY
While cultural considerations tend to focus on groups, it’s also important to look at how a venue prioritizes treating guests at the individual level. The information can be gleaned from the venue’s marketing materials and inclusiveness policies, so don’t hesitate to ask for those resources. It’s also a good idea to look at the venue’s staff diversity. Do they employ people of many backgrounds? Who’s on the leadership team? The venue’s prioritization of DEI efforts will play a big role in the environment they create for their clients and future attendees.
4. REVIEW ANTI-DISCRIMINATION POLICIES
Despite your best efforts, there may be times that you run into issues with harassment or discrimination. So, when you’re looking around for venues, make sure to ask what sort of policies they have in place. A strongly written – and more importantly, an effectively enforced – anti-discrimination policy can protect your guests from any form of discrimination or harassment. Everyone hopes that this never happens, but it could be a lot harder to navigate a sticky situation if your venue of choice doesn’t have a plan in place.
5. ENSURE PHYSICAL SAFETY
Whether it’s a meeting or a full-blown conference, any event you host should allow attendees to leave all their worries at the door and have a wonderful time. For everyone to feel happy and at ease, you have to make sure that you’re fostering a safe environment – both mentally and physically. Select a venue that has solid security measures, emergency response plans, and policies that address any untoward incidents. At 360DG, our operations team will always share these items with you to highlight our commitment and ensure your peace of mind.
6. INQUIRE ABOUT DIVERSE THIRD-PARTY PARTNERSHIPS
Event venues may work with a veritable army of vendors and suppliers, and one way to promote DEI is to seek out companies beyond the regulars. A venue that supports diverse, local, and minority-owned vendors can contribute to promoting equity and inclusion in your event, as well as foster creative ideas that you’ve never thought of. At 360DG, our teams work with local vendors and are happy to assist in sourcing diverse suppliers that match your event needs.
7. INQUIRE ABOUT DEI TRAINING
It’s no secret that staff members who undergo training on DEI topics are better equipped to address diverse needs and create a welcoming environment for all attendees. The proper training helps them become aware of things that they never might have noticed, and understand how to assist in a respectful way. That’s why it’s important to make sure that your venue of choice offers robust training on these topics. At 360DG, our field staff undergoes thorough training on DEI practices, making sure that they contribute to everyone’s happiness and satisfaction.
How Do You Turn DEI Training and Policies Into Action?
DEI planning doesn’t end once a venue is selected. As you plan your event, there are lots of opportunities to incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion from start to finish. Here are some of our recommendations for creating a welcoming, safe space.
1. CRAFT A DIVERSE SPEAKER LINEUP
Bringing speakers to your event? As you put together a shortlist, ask yourself: Does your lineup represent and challenge your audience demographics? Do they champion diversity and inclusion in what they do? Choose speakers that represent a wide range of backgrounds, viewpoints, and experiences. This is a wonderful way to expose attendees to a much broader range of perspectives.
2. USE INCLUSIVE LANGUAGE AND COMMUNICATION
During the event, make sure that you’re using gender-neutral language, and encouraging speakers and guests to include their pronouns in their bios or presentation slides. If you’re offering any printed materials, double-check that they’re ADA-compliant. (Here are a few best practices from the Vera Institute of Justice.) It’s also essential to train your staff on using language inclusively, including correct pronouns, in a way that fosters an atmosphere of respect.
3. ENSURE ACCESSIBILITY
If the venue doesn’t supply enough or the right accessibility options, provide your own – assistive listening devices, sign-language interpreters, captioning for presentations or videos, and ways to accommodate guests with sensory sensitivities.
4. CREATE INTENTIONAL NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES
Don’t leave it up to the attendees to cross paths, especially if they speak different languages. Create intentional networking opportunities that encourage diverse attendees to connect and engage with one another.
5. SOLICIT ATTENDEE ENGAGEMENT AND FEEDBACK
Actively involve your event attendees by seeking their feedback and input throughout the event. This can include interactive elements, such as polls, surveys, or Q&A sessions that allow participants to safely share their perspectives, ask questions, and contribute to the conversation.
If you’d like a partner in planning your next event, please reach out to us! We’re eager to help and guide you every step of the way.