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Diversity in events has ‘a way to go’, reveals report

There is significant work to be done for event professionals to move forward with inclusivity and diversity, according to new research developed by Fay Sharpe, founder of Fast Forward 15 and Dr Kate Dashper, director of research at Leeds Beckett University.

Using IMEX’s global network, more than 600 participants helped paint an accurate picture of the state of diversity and inclusivity in the events industry and revealed there is still work to be done.

The research found that the sector predominantly consisted of white professionals (82 per cent) with just 3 per cent of event professionals identifying as black, African or Caribbean.

The research also broached issues including who holds the majority of senior management positions. Despite the industry consisting mainly of women, the research participants indicated that 46 per cent of male event professionals hold executive roles, compared to just 23 per cent of women.

There is also a lack of representation from those with disabilities working in events, with only 3 per cent identifying as having a disability, compared to the UK average of 18 per cent of the working age population having a disability.

“The results were surprising; I had hoped we had moved on from many of the gaps between gender and ethnicity as well as disability in our sector however there is a way to go I hope the results provide solid data on where we are at, and what we need to work on,” Sharpe said.

“With the economic impact of Covid-19 leaders need to think outside the box, there will be opportunity to reshape a fairer more inclusive structure to the vibrant industry that we are. I also believe it highlights how important it is we work on diversity and inclusion as well as ensuring we don’t overlook minority groups.”

“Whilst the research shows that we still have much work to do to create a truly diverse workplace that reflects our wider society, the results shine a light on the areas where we should concentrate our efforts,” said IMEX CEO Carina Bauer.

“The business events industry is full of creative, passionate and open-minded professionals. We generally like to solve problems and I am optimistic that if, as an industry, we are serious about solving the issues of diversity, inclusion and gender disparity, we have it in our power to do so.”

Sharpe added that she fully expects the industry to go through a full transformation over the next two years and Gabby Austen Browne, co-founder of Diversity Ally and Fast Forward 15 ambassador agreed that soon organisations would be required to report on metrics relating to diversity in their teams.

“Soon, reporting requirements relating to ethnicity and reaching diversity targets will be non-negotiables. The research conducted and shared in this paper highlights we still have some way to go with regards to diversity overall. By participating in and sharing this research, we now have a place to start from, to build, grow and improve. “What gets measured, gets improved”, Austen Browne added.

“A review on race in the workplace found that tackling the racial disparities in the UK labour market could result in an annual economic boost worth £24bn to the UK Economy. So, its’ time to become consciously inclusive. now more than ever. It’s good for humanity and it’s good for business.”

The full research report can be accessed here.