Event Planning That Respects Diversity

Diversity at ConferenceWith communities around the world becoming increasingly diverse, it is important to take the changing face of diversity in consideration when planning corporate events and designing event venues. This is particularly important for international conferences and trade shows that attract participants from around the world.

An important first step is to ensure that diversity is not overlooked is to  have event and conference planning teams that are diverse.

Attention should also be given to ensuring that there is diversity on panels and among the keynoters and breakout session facilitators. Fortunately, world class speakers and facilitators are available in every corner of the globe.

Assessing attendee demographics is essential for all events. Yet questions persist such as:

  • how does one accommodate the needs of international conferences planned over Ramadan?
  • what is the best way to cater to participants who require Kosher or Halal meals?

Scheduling That Respects Diversity

Just as one would never think of planning a major event at Christmas or during Easter weekend, it is equally important to steer clear of dates that may cause conflict for participants. With resources to identify major holidays and observances widely available on the Internet, why would corporate event and major conference planners select dates that coincide with Chanukkah, Passover, Ramadan, or Diwali?

Google Calendar

It takes just a few moments to search Google and consult resources like:

  • On interfaithcalendar.org , check any date between today and the end of 2021 for potential conflicts.
  • From aglobalworld.com , event planners can order a calendar listing federal, religious and cultural holidays in over 200 countries.
  • On when-is.com, look up major civil, religious and cultural holidays from around the world.

If your company has a lot of employees from specific countries, do keep their need to spend time with family in mind over holidays that are important to them.

  • timeanddate.com lists holidays for many countries and a search of the site will pull up others.

Venue Design

Opening a new venue is an ideal opportunity to consider the needs of patrons from diverse backgrounds. When I have planned events or facilitated team building in Asia and the Middle East, hotels and resorts have public bathroom stalls that accommodate the needs of Western guests. Some hotels in Switzerland have a Surau.

When planning events, be sure to select a venue that is a good fit for the needs of the group.

Menu Planning for Diverse Audiences

A first step in menu planning for diverse audiences is to avoid dishes like pork, ham and other pork products that will present challenges for many delegates. The Butler's guild website has an excellent summary of food restrictions and some of the menu items that you will want to avoid based on attendee demographics.

As has been previously discussed on the Cvent Event Blog, be sure to include a participant profile with questions about dietary requirements on registration material. With enough notice, hotels and other event venues can usually source Halal, Kosher, and other meals that your guests may require.

In a changing world, it is important to examine current practices and ensure that they are truly inclusive. Respecting diversity should never be an afterthought.

For more advice on meeting the needs of participants from all backgrounds, also consult Catering Concerns: Kosher Menu Options, Catering to Special Dietary Needs, Part 2, Special Meals Should Be No Surprise, Corporate Events: Ensuring Diversity at Christmas, and Foreign Festive Fare for Christmas Events.

Photo Credits: Oregon Department of Transportation, yezi9713

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