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Take Pride in Fostering DEI

Marie Browne
IAEE Chairperson Marie Browne explores the advantages gained by executive leaders who strengthen their teams through an environment rich in diversity, equity and inclusion.

Editorial Note: Originally published in the June 2024 issue of Trade Show Executive magazine.

Pride Month brings to mind the importance of creating inclusive spaces within our organizations, where every team member feels valued and accepted for who they are. As we celebrate the LGBTQ+ community this month, let us embrace the opportunity to reflect on how we can create corporate cultures that genuinely value diversity, equity and inclusion.

Diversity goes beyond the differences we see; it encompasses the myriad of perspectives, experiences and identities that make each of us unique. It is our duty as executive leaders to recognize, embrace and build successful collaborations among our team members with these differences. By nurturing a culture that not only acknowledges but actively celebrates our differences, we empower our teams to bring their authentic selves to work and collectively contribute to our shared success.

To create an inclusive corporate culture, executive leaders must first understand the importance of leading by example. Our behaviors, actions and policies should communicate our commitment to DEI. This includes implementing inclusive hiring practices, such as diversifying talent pools and addressing unconscious biases. By hiring individuals from diverse backgrounds, we enrich our teams with a variety of perspectives and experiences that drive innovation and creativity.

Moreover, executive leaders must prioritize ongoing education and training to address diversity-related challenges effectively. By promoting an environment of learning and continual growth, we can develop a better understanding of the unique issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community in addition to the variety of viewpoints that comprise our workforce.

Review existing policies to ensure they include LGBTQ+ considerations such as gender-neutral restrooms and appropriate health benefits. Incorporate anti-discrimination policies so employees may effectively report discrimination or harassment and see to it these issues are addressed promptly.

Encourage team members to participate in LGBTQ+ allyship programs and provide opportunities for diversity and inclusion training. An environment that promotes understanding builds bridges among team members. It is no secret that team building strengthens the bonds among colleagues, thereby strengthening the team, thereby strengthening the organization – a win/win for all!

At my organization, our Global Pride Committee and business leaders promote and support Transgender and Nonbinary inclusion through internal- and external-facing education and awareness initiatives, as well as ensure our events are safe and welcoming spaces for all our LGBTQIA+ guests. We’ll, once again, actively participate in the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index assessment to ensure RX and RELX are LGBTQIA+ inclusive workplaces. We achieved a remarkable 100% in the 2023 assessment and were recognized by the HRC in a December 2023 awards ceremony in NYC.

We continue to expand our relationship with myGwork to raise our profile with LGBTQIA+ job candidates around the world, through profiling our incredible LGBTQIA+ colleagues within their extensive network, including articles in DIVA and Attitude magazines and myGwork social campaigns. And finally, we’ll extend our network of Pride ERGs and will once again march alongside our RELX colleagues in London Pride on June 29th!

Creating a corporate culture that values DEI goes beyond just fulfilling a checklist of initiatives. It requires a genuine commitment to change, a willingness to challenge our biases and an ongoing dedication to continuous improvement.

Does it pay off? Absolutely!

We are hearing more reports about how diverse and inclusive workplaces outperform their less forward-thinking counterparts in terms of creativity, innovation and overall business performance. By embracing diversity, we unlock the potential for fresh perspectives, breakthrough ideas, and ultimately, a competitive advantage.

Executive leaders have the power to shape our organizations by advocating for inclusivity and equality in all aspects of our operations. This Pride Month, let us renew our commitment to creating inclusive spaces and cultures where every individual feels valued, respected and celebrated for who they are. By embracing the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion, we build stronger teams and create a positive impact that reverberates throughout our organizations and industry.

Join us as we champion pride not only during this month, but throughout the year, and strive to build inclusive organizations that truly reflect the rich tapestry of humanity.

Marie Browne
2024 IAEE Chairperson
Group Vice President

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