October 12, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier

The results of the Events Industry Council’s (EIC) 2022 Equity Benchmarking Study show widespread dissatisfaction amongst event professionals, minority groups and women.

As part of the benchmarking study, 1,404 event professions from 380 different organisations were surveyed by an AI chatbot. More than half of respondents identified as white (61 per cent), just over three quarters were in mid or senior management and more than three quarters were women.

The survey found event professionals who were employees – as opposed to self-employed or in another kind of work arrangement – were a lot more dissatisfied with diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Employees made up 83 per cent of respondents.

Those who identified as black – making up 16 per cent of respondents – rated their DEI experience 11 per cent lower than those who identified as white.

And despite women being the majority of survey respondents and being well represented in senior leadership roles, their satisfaction with DEI in the workplace was 21 per cent lower than male survey respondents.

“It’s crucial that we champion inclusivity in our sector as a means to drive economic and social progress,” said EIC CEO Amy Calvert.

“DEI needs to be embraced by organisational leadership to be effective.

“Results from our 2022 Equity Benchmarking Study underscore we have a significant way to go, particularly advancing ethnic diversity, gender inclusivity, and equity in leadership and influential positions.

“EIC’s Equity Acceleration Plan will enable us to measure progress as well as improve our ability to deliver impact and sustain change.”

The big DEI questions

Following a framework created by 22 industry leaders including members of the EIC Equity Task Force, the EIC board of directors and external stakeholders and partners, those surveyed were asked questions across four pillars, with each pillar supported by a simple overarching question –

  • Ownership: Do I understand the nuances of DEI and act accordingly?

  • Accountability and power of influence: Is my leadership/organisation working to improve DEI? How are we engaging and tracking measurements and improvements?

  • Delivering change: What key areas of DEI need to change the most?

  • Sustaining change – How impactful are current interventions on DEI based on key metrics?

“Dismal black and brown representation within the events industry presents barriers to diversity and inclusion in leadership and influential positions needed to impact change,” said EIC Equity Task Force co-chair and past chairman of the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals Jason Dunn, Sr.

“Dispersed power and greater ownership of roles at all levels is rooted in an authentic DEI strategy, which in turn strengthens our industry’s infrastructure and positions us to compete on a global scale. Bottom line, the events industry propels the global economy, through thoughtful high impact events.

“It’s time for us to apply the same commitment, resources and metrics at an accelerated pace to intertwine DEI principles in all that we do. Our task force is committed to addressing these survey findings with actionable and measurable solutions. The journey won’t be easy, but nothing worth having ever is.”

The next phase

The benchmarking study is the first in a three-phase approach to improve DEI in the events industry.

“The next phase of our work will focus on the first two dimensions of the DEI experience: Ownership and Accountability/Power of Influence,” said EIC Task Force co-chair and AMC Institute president and CEO Tina Wehmeir.

“To create a sustainable environment of change, we must foster a sense of ownership among everyone.

“Accountability and Power of Influence is a particularly critical area based on our survey finding that minority groups showed higher levels of dissatisfaction in larger organisations.

“This further illustrates the need for organisational leadership to connect DEI principles to actual outcomes.

“It also reaffirms the importance of assembling the men and women of the EIC Task Force. They are change agents,” she said.

The EIC is made up of 34 industry groups from across the events and travel landscape around the world, including the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE), the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) and the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA).