We caught up with Diversity Ally Co-founder Gabby Austen Browne to discuss diversity within the events industry.

The events industry is a bright vibrant community full of supportive and enthusiastic professionals, but is it lacking in diversity? Gabby Austen Browne, Co[1]founder of Diversity Ally, an organisation taking ownership of the events industry’s approach to tackling its lack of diversity and inclusion, says yes: “We are an incredibly homogeneous group of professionals and as an industry we massively lack diversity. A survey carried out in 2020 covering Europe, the US, UK and Asia showed that just 3.5% of those who work in the events industry are Black people, 6.3% are Asian and we employ just 2.4% of those with disabilities compared to the UK average of 18%.”

Ensuring a diverse workplace is not only an ethical concern but a practical one as well: “We are unique as an industry in that we have the opportunity to influence all the sectors we cover by demonstrating DEI (diversity, equality and inclusion) best practice. Whether we are delivering a political party conference, a music festival or a travel expo, we can demonstrate how to deliver diverse content, how to create accessible spaces and inclusive environments with a diverse range of people that represent the society we live in.

“There are also the stats that demonstrate having a diverse team and leadership brings many benefits such as more diverse management teams having 19% higher revenues. And companies with strong gender and ethnic diversity are 15% and 35% respectively more likely to outperform their competitors. Not only is it good for humanity and society, but diversity is also good for business.”

With the industry in the midst of a recruitment crisis, diverse hiring is more important than ever: “Because those from diverse backgrounds were not encouraged or welcomed into the industry in the first place, I think we are going to have to do a lot to attract them now unless we demonstrate a real commitment to diversity and inclusion, commit to developing talents from all backgrounds, pay people equally and delivering work that is meaningful where possible and demonstrates care, compassion and most of all equality.”

Tackling such a large and persevering issue as a lack of diversity can seem daunting, but Gabby has suggestions for how organisations can start: “First of all, organisations should educate themselves on what diversity and inclusion really entails; it doesn’t just mean hiring a Black person. Set internal goals around diversity and have a strategy to commit to and follow.

“The industry can also develop or take part in initiatives that encourage attraction, retention and training and development of people from diverse backgrounds like the REACH scholarship program, which I am on the working group for. The REACH scholarship is a new university scholarship initiative to encourage people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds into the events industry. “At Diversity Ally, we provide education and training, consultancy and deliver events for the events MICE and hospitality industry.

Workshops can cover inclusive leadership, creating inclusive workplaces, how to have conscious (and sometimes uncomfortable) conversations, intersectionality in the workplace, anti-racism and allyship training, understanding privilege and power and the impact of systemic inequality.

“We also offer guidance and support on how to develop diverse recruitment and inclusive hiring practices, D&I policy writing, diverse marketing and inclusive branding, developing statements of intent and client proposals and pitching to create diverse, inclusive and accessible events. “

To find out how to make your organisation more inclusive visit Diversityally.co.uk