Why Diversity and Inclusion are Essential to Your Events’ Success

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is more than just polices, programs or headcounts. According to Forbes “Diversity and inclusion are essential in business today as a healthy variety of people from different backgrounds and cultures provides us with the balance of voices and diversity of thought that we need.” Dominic Biggin is Hotel Manager at Sedgebrook Hall and one of our amazing diversity ambassadors who are leading the way. He shares his thoughts about how to create environments that are inclusive and welcoming to every guest.

What advice do you have for charities and associations to help them create inclusive and diverse events?

I would firstly say that this cannot be a tick box exercise or an add on; diversity has to be embraced from the outset and remember that ensuring inclusivity doesn’t just stop at certain communities such as gender or racial ethnicities. Inclusivity means just that, everyone is included. Your event should be able to reach out to everyone – including people with physical abilities, differing economic classes or differing age demographics. The ideal event should be a reflection of society as a whole.

Once invited, your guests should then be made to feel comfortable attending the event – which may include ensuring full accessibility for people with physical abilities, using captions for the hard of hearing or setting a date which will not conflict with religious or cultural holidays.

As part of our D&I Strategy we are implementing the Sunflower Lanyard in all venues and training is currently being rolled out for all of team TVC. The Sunflower is a globally recognised symbol for non-visible disabilities, also known as hidden disabilities or invisible disabilities. Not all disabilities are visible – some are not immediately obvious. Although you may not be able to see invisible impairments and conditions, they’re still there. By adopting the Sunflower in our business, it will help support a culture of disclosure for our existing employees, make our team members more confident in the workplace and support guests staying with us.

Why is having a diverse venue team important to organisers and guests?

Not only is it important, but I believe that actually it is expected. Diversity includes a vast array of cultures and communities and is a reflection of life throughout the country. Consequently, a non-diverse workforce would not be representative of our clients, their guests and their working practices. Our clients need to see people like themselves within our venue teams to ensure they feel welcomed and that our venues are inclusive. If our services do not resonate with our guests, it would leave us vulnerable to isolation from the very customers we want to attract.

It has been well documented that more diverse companies – which have representatives from all walks of life – are better at attracting top talent which in turn will improve customer orientation and increase employee satisfaction and decision making. Research has also shown that an inclusive environment generates innovation and there is noted correlations between gender, ethnic and cultural diversity and financial performance. There has also been analysis that shows diversity leads to a more harmonious workforce and reduces staff turnover.

Invite the right partners to work with you

Your sponsors, suppliers and service providers all have an influence over whether your event will be recognised as diverse and inclusive. It is important to invite organisations and facilitators who have a commitment to equality and inclusivity.  Also try to reach out into the local communities to see the feasibility of sourcing local suppliers who are reflective of the communities you are serving and the guests you are inviting.

There are many ways within event to highlight diversity, such as with stands or banners and by choosing a diverse selection of guest speakers to entertain and educate. Remember to also cater for people with dietary requirements to ensure that the food that your serve is inclusive for everyone.

Speak to the communities you want to invite. There are many networks within all communities who will be happy to give advice and support on how to be truly inclusive – and don’t be afraid to ask questions which may seem challenging or take you out of your comfort zone. It is only by challenging our norms that we will be better able to educate ourselves.

What else are The Venues Collection  doing to ensure their teams are diverse?

As part of global caterer, Compass Group, The Venues Collection is fully aligned with the Compass commitment to inclusivity throughout the workforce. Our ambition is to create a workforce which represents the rich diversity of the customers and clients we serve as well as our society. We want everyone in our business to feel able to be themselves at work and to have an equal opportunity to progress their career. Our aim is to widen access to our career opportunities and encompass all in our society.

To this end we have created a D&I portal which is accessible to every single team member and provides information on all things D&I, including information on our amazing employee networks and the D&I events and celebrations that are taking place. These networks are run by our colleagues for colleagues and help to creates a welcoming and inclusive environment for all. Each of our networks are represented throughout all of our venues by network ambassadors who are passionate about bringing about positive change and inclusivity via their respective groups.

Some of the networks we have are;

 The Within Network which aims to promote cultural diversity in the work environment and inspire others to do the same.

Women in Food Network which is working to create a more inclusive culture by attracting diversity, creating a safe supportive environment where everyone can thrive – whilst ensuring development for women at all levels.

Pride in Food which strives to create an inclusive and diverse culture where everyone can be themselves at work.

You Matter which is working to promote and support the mental health and wellbeing of our colleagues by creating positive working environments which support employees’ wellbeing, create a culture of openness and acceptance around mental health as well as encouraging colleagues to lookout for each other’s mental health as well as their own.

We are working hard to ensure that our venues are diverse and inclusive spaces for your events. We’ll be delighted to share our experience and to help you on your D&I journey – please contact our team on: enquiries@thevenuescollection.co.uk

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