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Event orchestration | 29 August 2022

Diversity and Inclusion: The Ultimate DE&I Event Planning Checklist

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett
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Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) is a top need in the events industry, with organizers and planners increasingly looking for ways to connect with and represent more people from all walks of life. Event diversity is critical to ensure participants feel welcome and have engaging and impactful experiences. That’s where this DE&I event checklist comes in!

It’s time for organizers to prioritize DE&I, form a solid integration strategy, and implement it across all aspects of the event. It takes a bit of work, baking DE&I into your event strategy ultimately leads to a stronger event community, increased participation and engagement, and better learning and speaking experiences.

What To Include on Your DE&I Event Checklist

Your DE&I checklist will vary depending on your event’s goals and attendee demographics, but do your best to integrate as many of these checklist suggestions into your larger event planning checklist, so DE&I doesn’t become an afterthought or merely performative. 

1. Checklist for Building DE&I-driven Infrastructure

To improve DE&I in your events, you must prioritize it. In other words, your team needs to understand what an inclusive strategy entails and what they need to take it seriously. Here’s how to make that happen:

☐ Audit your current DE&I plan (if you have one) with your event team.

☐ Audit your company’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility policies to ensure your event strategy aligns with existing policies.

☐ Clearly define and explain key terms related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. 

☐ Outline how you talk about DE&I as a team and any steps your team is currently taking.

☐ Inventory your event websites and registration forms for DE&I-driven fields and options.

☐ Create a diverse and inclusive task force to lead awareness and the creation of inclusive policies, programs, and event content and themes.

☐ Set aside a budget for offering need-based scholarships to ensure the inclusion of individuals from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds.

☐ Create a diversity and inclusion statement and/or principles of an inclusive community manifesto.

2. Checklist for Analyzing Data

Once your team is up to speed on DE&I, building and refining your event strategy is next. At this point, it’s necessary to analyze recent events and outline areas of success and those that need improvement. Here are a few items to add to your checklist:

☐ Look at year-over-year data to identify patterns and trends in attendees, vendors, exhibitors, and speakers (both positive and negative)

☐ Examine feedback from events over the past six months (or year) to see if you already have DE&I-related feedback.

☐ Read and analyze social media comments and event reviews.

☐ In post-event surveys, ask participants for feedback on diversity, inclusion, and accessibility.

☐ Conduct user testing on your event websites to gain data on accessibility and usability. 

☐ Hire a data analyst — or work with someone internally — to evaluate DE&I-related analytics and feedback.

☐ Create a multi-phase plan for implementing data-related feedback and strategies across your event strategy.

3. Checklist for Creating an Inclusive Registration Experience

For attendees, the experience starts when they see a social post or email and head to your event website. You must build diversity and inclusion into your event website to ensure that participants feel seen from the start. Here are a few checklist items to add to your event strategy:

☐ Ensure your event website features inclusive imagery.

☐ Ensure your event website is ADA compliant and follows WCAG accessibility guidelines. 

☐ Add options for name pronunciation and pronouns to your registration form. 

☐ Include learning preferences on your registration form. 

☐ Offer space for attendees to include any ability-related needs when registering (e.g., wheelchair accessibility, auditory or sensory impairments).

☐ Ask questions about preferred communication style (e.g., email, text, automated phone call).

☐ Include a community agreement to your form, such as: “I understand that this event space has a zero-tolerance policy for racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, ageism, classism, and body shaming.”

screenshot of event registration form with pronouns

4. Checklist for Building a Diverse Speaker Lineup

Speakers engage, educate, and entertain audiences, but attendees have to feel like they see themselves represented on stage. Unfortunately, there is often a disconnect between speakers and audience members. Including checklist items is essential to ensure your speaker lineup is as diverse as your attendees. 

☐ Ensure your speaker lineup includes individuals from diverse genders, races, religions, abilities, cultural backgrounds, and more.

☐ Consider your audience’s demographics and consider how they will respond to each speaker and topic.

☐ Choose diverse speakers who can challenge your attendees’ attitudes, ideas, and beliefs.

☐ Choose speakers from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. 

☐ Choose a mix of established, well-known speakers and those building a name for themselves. 

☐ Consider hiring a diversity consultant to help build a more comprehensive speaker diversity program. 

5. Checklist for Factoring Neurodiversity into Your Events 

It’s essential to consider neurodiversity when planning events. Remember that audiences have vastly different learning preferences, abilities, personalities, and health needs. 

For example, you may have several audience members with dyslexia who have trouble reading slides. There could also be attendees with auditory processing disorder who have difficulty understanding speech. In any case, two attendees may view the same presentation but perceive and process the information differently. 

☐ Include the option to choose learning preferences on your event registration form.

☐ Hire sign language interpreters and offer materials and presentations in alternative formats, such as braille or large print. 

☐ Create reserved seating in each session and keynote for those with auditory disabilities and those with assistive devices (e.g., wheelchairs).

☐ Ensure post-event videos have captions, transcripts, and language translation options.

☐ Feature a variety of session types throughout your event, such as roundtables, small-group activities, and fireside chats.

☐ Ensure your event website complies with ADA standards and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

6. Checklist for Venues, Vendors, and Dates  

During the event-planning process, it’s vital to choose the right venue, vendor, dates, and more to accommodate the largest number of participants. According to global research from Radisson Meetings, 80% of event organizers feel that a policy of inclusivity is an important consideration when selecting a venue.

Here are some items to add to your event strategy checklist:

☐ Ensure events avoid cultural and religious holidays and observances. 

☐ Consider time zones and accommodate varied attendee locations for virtual and hybrid events. 

☐ Choose venues in cities and states with social and political policies that accept all attendees.

☐ Offer diverse and inclusive food choices, such as vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, kosher, and halal.

☐ Feature mocktails or other non-alcoholic beverages for attendees who don’t drink.

☐ Ensure the selected venue offers gender-neutral and ADA-compliant restrooms, prayer rooms, quiet rooms, elevators, and wheelchair ramps.

☐ Ensure the venue has clear signage for smoking and non-smoking areas and resources for enforcing those policies. 

☐ Choose diverse and inclusive event partners and vendors, including those whose corporate social responsibility policies align with your business and event goals.

☐ Use local vendors from underrepresented communities. 

7. Checklist for Training Hosts and Moderators for DE&I

Hosts and moderators also have an essential role in event DE&I planning. Here are some examples of items to add to your checklist:

☐ Ensure all panelists, moderators, and emcees have panelist pronouns and name pronunciations in hand. 

☐ Choose Q&A submissions that feature a variety of perspectives and voices.   

☐ Create a list of topics that might make presenters or audience members uncomfortable and train moderators/emcees on how to field sensitive subjects.

☐ Ensure someone is monitoring chats for offensive comments and hate speech. 

Take Your First Steps Toward Improving Event DE&I

Whether you’re starting on your DE&I event checklist from scratch or have made headway in recent years, there is always room for improvement! Remember: DE&I is a journey — not a destination. 

Prioritizing diversity and inclusion can go a long way toward creating more welcoming, open, and comfortable events for all event attendees and participants. A secondary benefit of prioritizing a DE&I-driven event strategy is that it makes your brand stand out from the competition, increasing pipeline and driving revenue. 

Want to learn even more strategies for bringing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility to your event strategy? We thought you did. Check out our Guide To Building a DE&I-Driven Event Strategy.

the guide to building a DE&I-driven event strategy