Advocacy within the travel, tourism and hospitality industries takes on many forms. Whether the goal is diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI), accessibility, educational resources or all of the above, advocates from different facets of the events world continue to strive for progress. Smart Meetings has collected a list of advocacy stories from 2022 and we are all excited to see even more in the new year.
In the wake of the staffing shortages in the hospitality industry, organizations such as the American Hotel and Lodging Association Foundation (AHLA Foundation) and Tourism Diversity Matters (TDM) are advocating for educational programs that will develop the next generation of event and hospitality careers with specialized training and funding from individual and corporate donors. The programs are especially focused on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) to ensure a progressive future for the industry.
Smart Meetings sat down for a chat with Megan Henshall, a 2022 Smart Women in Meetings Visionary Award Winner, to discuss neurodiversity in the events industry and what professionals can do to accommodate the issue.
Henshall explains the term neurodiversity pertains to a wide spectrum of diagnoses. “There is a growing movement with people who operate over a whole range of autism, ADHD, dyslexia, Tourette syndrome, even traumatic brain injury functions who see accommodating all processing abilities as a diversity and inclusion issue rather than a disability and accessibility issue.”
Read More: 2022 Smart Women in Meetings: Visionary
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) hosts an annual three-day Public Policy Conference in D.C. to educate advocates in how to get involved with congress in order to push for legislation reform. As registration for the event was thwarted by Covid, NMSS partnered with Capitol Canary software to include advocacy over a virtual platform.
The software allows participants to see just how many advocates who believed in the cause were getting involved. Laura Bennett, director of grassroots advocacy at NMSS, believes this innovative feature of Capitol Canary software bolsters community and advocacy. “People get a lot of pride out of that and really feel like they are making a difference as they can see themselves within this larger movement,” says Bennett.
Diversity is not only important when discussing the moral fabric of corporate policy. Harvard Business Review reported diversity amongst team members in the workplace results in increased productivity. The variety of backgrounds amongst colleagues allows for more recognition of biases and encourages creative problem solving.
Terrance Frederick, director of sales, events and marketing at Andaz West Hollywood, agrees with the findings of Harvard Business Review. “Diversity improves team performance, as it requires a team to consider the perspective of someone from a different background, ethnicity and upbringing other than their own,” says Frederick.
Accessibility continues to be an important topic for meeting professionals as they plan for inclusive events. Keely Cat-Wells, founder and president of C Talent, addressed this issue with Smart Meetings as a colleague of hers was not able to meet in the booked meeting space due to accessibility limitations.
“Disability is a chronically left out of diversity conversation,” Cat-Wells says. In this article, Cat-Wells outlines five important tips for meeting professionals to ensure their events are accessible to all attendees of varying capabilities.