You want to create an event that no one will feel excluded from, so you actively market your event to all types of people. Your lineup is carefully curated to feature a diverse set of talents. And your venue is entirely ADA compliant.
But there might be a fatal flaw in your diversity efforts: your team. If your staff and volunteers are a homogenous crew, it sends a subtle message to attendees that’s not as inclusive as you think.
While the makeup of your staff may seem less critical than the front-and-center event experience, it’s actually an important marker. If your event staff isn’t reflective of your audience, you risk isolating your guests.
Here are five inclusive hiring practices you can incorporate to create more diverse teams.
Inclusive hiring practice #1
Diversity-forward hiring practice starts with your copy. On your website, Indeed.com, LinkedIn, and every job posting, state your commitment to building a diverse and inclusive event team.
Basic non-discriminatory hiring practices are the law. Most organizations state this plainly in job postings. But you can do better than the basics. Diversity is not only about gender and race, but economic background, educational level, physical ability, sexual orientation, and gender identification. By stating that you are open to hiring anyone within any category — provided they’re qualified for the job — you become an ally.
Inclusive hiring practice #2
Did you know that the AP Stylebook and the Chicago Manual of Style now consider singular, gender-neutral pronouns to be legitimate? That’s good news for those who write job descriptions.
So as you’re writing those job descriptions and describing your hiring practices, be sure to use gender-neutral language. An inadvertent “he” or “she” is a surefire way to betray your commitment to diversity.
Inclusive hiring practice #3
Sad fact: according to studies, people in the U.S with “ethnic” names have to send out 50% more resumes to get a callback than those with “white-sounding” names.
The term bias describes a sometimes subconscious tendency toward hiring people we’re already comfortable with or relate to. It may not be aren’t overtly discriminatory, but somewhere along the line, the outcome results in a team of people from the same background who look a lot alike.
To avoid this trap and weed out unconscious bias, conduct blind screenings of your resumes and applications. Blind screening means removing all ID details from applications. That way, you can evaluate based on skills and experience versus gender, race, age, or other irrelevant factors.
Blind screening can be achieved by creating applications that don’t ask for identifying information in the first place. Or, invest in recruiting software that anonymizes candidate resumes before you look at them.
Pro tip: For in-depth information about how to conduct a blind-hiring process, read this blog.
Inclusive hiring practice #4
On the surface, hiring for cultural fit seems like a good way to ensure that teams gel well. But as research shows, homogeneity breeds complacency.
Instead, consider diversity a positive attribute your team can develop. The more backgrounds, types of experience, and points of view you have, the better. Diversity within your teams encourages people to challenge assumptions, share diverse points of view, and create more innovative events.
Inclusive hiring practice #5
Once you’ve created a diverse team, you can showcase your commitment to diversity on your social media channels. Photos, interviews, and quotes featuring diverse staff send a message to prospective employees that you hire a broad set of people.
But be careful not to tokenize those members of your staff that fall outside the mainstream. Just because you have a few “token” minorities on an otherwise all-white staff does not mean you’re truly an inclusive event business. Holding up your minority staff as symbols of your progressiveness is inauthentic. Instead, aim to show a fair and honest representation of diversity on your team.
Remember: staff your event with a diverse group of people, and you send a message that diversity and inclusion are core to your event brand. Want more thought-provoking content about making events more diverse and inclusive? Download the free guide Making Your Events More Inclusive and Diverse.