Bridging the Gap: The Voices of the Oppressed Must Be Heard

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Bridging the Gap: The Voices of the Oppressed Must Be Heard

By Tanida Mullen | Sep 9, 2020

Join MPI’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee for “Meet-Up: Professionals for Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion,” 9-10 a.m. on Nov. 4 at WEC Grapevine.

If someone would have tapped me on the shoulder in January and told me that most of the year would be filled with trying to navigate a completely new world, I would have calmly said, “Sure, change happens.” I can tell you right now there is no way I would have imagined the changes we are seeing today. A global pandemic was not on the top of the list of “things to navigate.”

We feel connected in a way, all going through a new situation together at the same time. When you call a friend in Singapore or San Diego you feel a sense of connection because, no matter what, you can relate in part to what they are going through now. But even with the common denominator, there are slight differences in the experience.

I’m from Texas, where we are wearing masks—but not everyone is on the same page about when and where. I have a friend in Germany, and from her viewpoint, everyone is on board with wearing masks—no problem, no pushback. This experience shows me that even when we feel a sense of connection, we must step back and understand that everyone doesn’t have the same exact experience.

How do you learn about different experiences and perspectives? You ask. You listen.

As we take a deep look at what diversity and inclusion means for the meeting industry, it is clear now more than ever that we have different struggles and challenges as individuals. What does this mean for you as the MPI member reading this article right now? It means that as a professional in the meeting industry, you have a new responsibility, a new charge.

Between myself, fellow co-chair Zoe Moore and the members of the MPI Diversity & Inclusion Committee, we have had many conversations, meetings, Q&As and brainstorming sessions around how we can foster change as it relates to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the meeting industry. There are talks of big plans, education and partnership to help this mission. While all those things are necessary, I want to challenge you as individuals to bridge the gap from where you are. Small actions create big change, we know this, and we say this all the time. For many industry professionals, the heart and intention are there, but most people don’t feel like they know where to start. The secret is that you don’t need a manual or guidebook for the first step in the process of bridging the gap of inequity in our industry.

MPI Resources for Equality and Justice: Furthering the Advancement of All Peoples

Start here: Like the example of the pandemic, even in our collective feeling, our experiences in this industry are different. The path to how each of us arrived at our destination in the world of meetings and events could probably serve as individual guides or books. How do you learn about different experiences and perspectives? You ask. You listen. In my opinion, without taking the time to inquire from a place of curiosity, you start your journey without a roadmap or idea of how you’ll get there. Imagine someone reaching out to say they want to help you get to a destination, but they have no idea how far you’ve traveled or where you want to go. It’s important that we listen with the intent of letting the voices of the oppressed be heard. Here are a few questions you can ask of professionals who have been marginalized, excluded or underserved.

·      Who do I need to engage in conversation?

·      What do I need to know about the community to offer the best programming or service?

·      In what way do you feel unheard?

·      What have you not felt comfortable sharing up until now?

·      What are your challenges?

·      What do I need to know about the community to offer the best programming or service?

·      How can I be of assistance today?

·      What am I not seeing?

Ultimately, the path to change starts with you, your mindset and how far you are truly willing to think beyond what you know at this moment. While organizations like MPI will help to facilitate conversation, provide resources and work to change our industry for the better, the big shift, the one that will be pivotal for change, starts with your commitment to individual action and commitment to change the current narrative as it relates to diversity, equity and inclusion for those underrepresented in the meeting industry.

Over the next few months, you will hear voices that might be new to you and see faces of the members that want to help bridge the gap of DEI and the meeting industry at large. Listen intently and ask questions from a place of curiosity. Those steps alone can begin your personal journey to facilitating the change our industry needs. I look forward to taking this journey together.



Tanida Mullen

Tanida Mullen, CMP, is co-chair of the MPI Diversity & Inclusion Committee. A seasoned hospitality professional, she has a true passion for helping teams work better together. Mullen has worked across the restaurant and CVB sectors of hospitality and has expertise in training and people development. You can reach her at Hello@