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The Diversity Conversation is About Being Seen and Heard

By: Dwayne Rutherford, DES | Published by MPI Toronto Chapter | Jan 21, 2022

“Welcome to my home, have a seat. Would you like something to drink?” When we invite our friends or family members to our home we typically try our best to ensure that they feel welcome and that they have all their needs taken care of. We often think carefully about what we will offer them to drink and eat or how we can make them feel as comfortable as possible. It is likely that we have spent some time with them prior to their visit and have some indication of their preferences. This makes it a little easier for us to put a smile on their faces by thinking through their every want and need. We ensure they feel included in the space we have designed for them. Planning for their visit can be challenging, but we do it with pleasure to make their experience memorable.


As event planners and producers, we invite groups of people to our events to make their experience enjoyable and memorable. To provide high quality services to people with varying backgrounds, experiences and preferences,  it is imperative to slow down the process to consider all their needs. How do we show attendees that we see them? How do they know this event was designed with them in mind? Some brands may be short sighted and not invest in creating opportunities to demonstrate they are thinking about all attendees. I strongly believe this will change in the near future. The ability to courageously embrace change has often proven to be what dictates the success or failure of companies that are not able to see the importance of equity and inclusion.

We now live in a world where conversations on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging are trending. Truly embracing inclusion is a necessity for businesses that want to excel beyond the status quo. It is also important that we understand that an appreciation for diversity is merely a starting point. We should be intentional about how we actively infuse diverse voices, experiences and perspectives into the work we do and the experiences we want to offer. Brands are investing in customization to attract a broader audience to their products and services. Each event should then reflect that range of influences. Incorporating diversity is not just about an output. It’s a good idea to start within your own business to see how you might incorporate more equitable practices and policies. Consider your administrative processes and how they can be improved. Think about who makes decisions and implement changes to include distinct viewpoints to enhance the richness and vibrancy of your deliverables. Build diversity from the inside out.


Just as we  do with our dinner guests at home, think about who you serve and how you might enhance their experience and sense of satisfaction and belonging. It might mean designing a pre-event survey or updating your registration questionnaire to capture more information about your attendees. These details will help you identify how to best  meet their needs. Having a deeper understanding of your attendees' aspirations and overall needs can help you personalize their experience with unique details within your venue or platform, selection of speakers, dietary options and music options. We must take the time to inquire about critically important information such as accessibility requirements, observances and language preferences, and ensure we deliver them with respect and high efficiency. This helps us build affinity and honor the voices of our valued attendees. When we do this genuinely and successfully, our clients and attendees will know we see them. We will have cultivated an inclusive experience so they can be their true authentic selves, with their needs accounted for, where they almost feel at home.

About the Author:

Dwayne Rutherford, DES,  Founder & Managing Director
Debonair Corporate Events



Dwayne Rutherford, DES | Published by MPI Toronto Chapter

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