Prioritizing inclusivity in association events: 3 tips

A line of people of all kinds standing in a line against a white background with two blue clouds overhead

The topic of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is an increasingly common consideration for organizations of all kinds, including associations. With DEI on the rise, it’s more important now than ever to prioritize inclusivity in your association’s operations. That means offering your members inclusive resources, workshops, and events.

As an association professional, you’re no stranger to hosting conferences, webinars, and even fundraising events to meet your purpose. However, while you may have already established DEI practices for your association’s everyday operations, you may not have tackled the idea of inclusivity for your events yet.

To help you avoid feeling overwhelmed or confused about where to begin, we’ll outline three tips for prioritizing inclusivity at your events. Let’s get started!

What is inclusivity and why is it important?

It’s almost impossible to discuss inclusivity without also discussing diversity and equity. DEI refers to three related values of organizations working to be more supportive of groups from all walks of life. This includes people of different races, ethnicities, religions, abilities, genders, and sexual orientations.

Historically, marginalized groups have not been included or offered the same opportunities as members of the dominant group. That’s what inclusivity aims to address—it refers to the process of providing equal opportunities for individuals who might otherwise be excluded.

Aside from equitably including members from all different backgrounds, inclusivity also brings the following benefits to your association’s events:

  • A wider range of perspectives: With attendees and speakers from diverse backgrounds, you’ll have access to a wider range of perspectives. Having these different viewpoints provides attendees with various insights and best practices that they might not otherwise have heard of, thereby increasing the value of your event.
  • An increase in attendees: If you don’t consider inclusivity in your events, it’s likely that you’ll only attract a small pool of attendees. However, if you thoughtfully implement DEI practices, you’ll make it more accessible for many more individuals to attend.
  • Inspire change: Prioritizing inclusivity and accessibility at your association’s event allows you to lead by example. Seeing these values in action may inspire attendees to implement inclusivity practices at their organizations and to advocate for equity in their fields.

As an association professional, your goal is to maximize the value your organization offers its members. By prioritizing inclusivity at your events, you’ll also be able to maximize the number of individuals who can attend and benefit from them.

3 tips for making your association’s events more inclusive

Now that you know what inclusivity means and why it’s important for your association, let’s learn more about how you can prioritize it at your association’s events.

1. Incorporate inclusivity in planning

Whether you’re hosting a conference or a fundraising event, inclusivity starts from your planning committee. Before you begin planning your event, ensure that your committee is diverse to gain a wide range of perspectives. This will help you plan an event that is inclusive to all of your members.

Once you start the planning process, consider how you can facilitate inclusivity with your:

  • Registration: Make registration more accessible and inclusive by offering a streamlined online registration form. Ensure that it’s mobile-optimized so members can register while on the go.
  • Ticket prices: When it comes to charging ticket prices, keep in mind that the lower the price, the more inclusive the event will be. While it may not be feasible for you to allow members to attend for free, try to keep ticket prices down if possible so members with limited budgets can attend. Or, offer discounts and scholarships to eligible members to ease the financial burden.
  • Location: Consider the general demographics of your association to determine where to host your event. For example, if you run an association based in the southeast of the United States, consider having your event in Atlanta, as it is a large city with plenty of transportation options.
  • Marketing: Luckily, the best practices for inclusivity with marketing are also generally best event marketing practices. To make sure your content reaches your entire member base, promote your event using a multichannel marketing strategy. This means embedding promotional materials into your association’s website, email newsletters, social media posts, and more.

These are just a few of the numerous ways you can be more inclusive during the event planning process. Now, let’s take a look at ways to make your event more inclusive once it kicks off.

2. Consider inclusivity during your event

Incorporating inclusivity at your event usually takes place in the planning stage. However, even after the event has begun, there are steps you can take to be more inclusive. For example:

  • Accommodations: Not everyone who attends your event will be as able as everyone else. Be sure to accommodate those with disabilities or other limitations. For example, leverage live transcription software during panels or workshops so individuals who are hard of hearing can easily follow along. Or, be sure that your venue has elevator access and ramps so that individuals with physical disabilities can easily navigate to the activities they wish to attend.
  • Diverse event programming: Offer a diverse range of programs and activities so that there’s something for everyone. Not everyone learns and processes information the same way, so having a variety of different programs—such as panels, workshops, and networking events—will allow members to craft an event schedule that is tailored to their preferences. You should also prioritize creating a lineup of diverse speakers, presenters, and panelists to allow for more varied and unique perspectives.
  • Employee and volunteer training: To ensure that your event is inclusive, consider mandating that your employees and volunteers receive inclusivity or DEI training beforehand. That way, they’ll be up to date on the best practices.

Make sure to be transparent about your commitment to promoting inclusivity at your next event, such as highlighting the measures you’re taking in your marketing materials. Your members will appreciate the effort you’re putting in to prioritize DEI.

3. Solicit feedback on inclusivity

After your event ends, you need to thank and reconnect with attendees to steward relationships. One of the ways you can accomplish this and help improve your inclusivity practices is to solicit members’ feedback on how inclusive your event was.

In your follow-up communications, send them a survey with questions such as:

  • On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the inclusivity of our event?
  • Did you feel that the event was welcoming and accessible? Why or why not?
  • How were your needs properly accommodated? How were they not?
  • How did you feel about the diversity of the event’s speakers, presenters, and panelists?
  • What do you think we could do better to make our event more inclusive and accessible in the future?

By asking these questions, you’ll show your members that you’re serious about your commitment to inclusion and DEI as a whole. Plus, you’ll be able to crowdsource advice and feedback from those who truly matter. Carefully consider the suggestions made by event attendees and implement them at your next event to show members that their opinions are important.

To sum up

While society has a long way to go with inclusion and DEI as a whole, you need to take small steps to improve and push these values forward. Only by actively prioritizing these values will your association be able to create a more equitable experience for its members and ensure that you give them the value they deserve out of their membership.

Subscribe to our blog

Book A Demo

Subscribe to our blog now!

Get fresh ideas, actionable insights and expert guidance for B2B events delivered directly to your inbox!
Blogs by Zuddl

Our curated hub of inspiration

Book a Demo