The Role of Diversity and Inclusion in the Meetings Industry

Author: Lorene Yue       

Ideological polarization should be an opportunity, not a deterrent, to raising the profile of diversity and inclusion in the meetings industry.

“The climate today is a perfect backdrop to raise greater awareness and move from awareness to action,” Sherrif Karamat, PCMA president and CEO, said during a roundtable discussion on diversity and inclusion. Karamat was one of five meetings industry leaders who took part in a Successful Meetings conference call to discuss how race, religion, nationality, and sexual identity are shaping the meetings industry.

The wide-ranging conversation addressed the potential impact of ideological polarization diversity in the meetings industry and creating meaningful content for ethnically diverse audiences. The group also discussed the future of diversity in the meetings industry.

Karamat also spoke the PCMA Convene Ascent initiative and a pledge that more than 100 CEOs signed to promote inclusion and diversity within organizations and at the events they produce and attend. Learn more about PCMA Convene Ascent and see its new Ascent Luminaries series at pcma.org/ascent.

Joining Karamat in the roundtable discussion were Greg DeShields, executive director of PHLDiversity at the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau; Dave Jeffreys, founder and executive director at LGBT Meeting Professionals Association; Michelle “Mick” Lee, founder of WINiT for Women and managing director at ARROW212; and Gwen Migita, chief sustainability officer and vice president of social impact and inclusion at Caesars Entertainment.

“I believe when we meet face-to-face, we see eye-to-eye and we can break down barriers that we initially think are insurmountable,” Karamat said. “The business-events industry is about bringing people together, and it’s the ideal platform to address the issues that we face around inclusion and diversity. We have a golden opportunity to lead by example through education and walking the talk. I’m optimistic that the business-events industry is going to play a leading role in this charge of inclusion and diversity.”

Read more about or listen to the roundtable discussion at Successful Meetings.