LGBT Meeting Professionals Association Celebrates Meetings and Event Professionals During Pride Month and Beyond
Organizations far and wide are celebrating Pride Month by showing their support for the LGBT+ community through awareness-raising efforts, fostering more diverse and inclusive cultures and supporting progressive change. But for the LGBT Meeting Professionals Association, Pride is a year-round effort to change minds, hearts and attitudes.
As the only organization solely committed to connecting, advancing and empowering the LGBT+ meeting professional community, the LGBT MPA works to represent and uplift LGBT voices, educate the industry on a broad range of topics pertaining to inclusion and diversity and provide a safe space for its members to grow and connect.
According to LGBT MPA Immediate Past Chairman Jim Clapes, who also works as director of events at M3 Meet, the event industry’s visibility makes it the perfect platform to showcase inclusion and help shift perceptions and attitudes.
“Aside from the recognition of LGBT+ folks and the celebration of our collective identity that occurs during Pride Month, it is so important for the meetings and events industry to uplift LGBT+ voices due to the visibility we have in showcasing inclusion,” Clapes said.
He continued, “What we do touches people from all walks of life, all around the world, every single day. If we as a collective industry can work toward diversification and committing to some very simple goals…there is truly the ability to create a shift in the attitude and perception of our attendees.”
At events, these goals can include:
- Establishing gender-neutral restrooms at event venues;
- Providing attendees with the option of preferred gender pronouns on their name badges;
- Considering and featuring LGBT+ folks in event marketing strategy and promotional materials;
- Thinking about supplier diversity in sourcing and vendor relationships
For Pride Month, the association launched its own celebration: a social media campaign spotlighting LGBT+ meetings and event professionals working to advance inclusion in meetings and events. Thirty allies, mentors and connectors who were nominated by their industry peers are being honored throughout June across all social platforms, as well as in newsletters and on the organization’s website.
To close out its Pride Month celebrations on June 30, LGBT MPA will host its inaugural Day of Diversity, created to promote and encourage self-affirmation, dignity, equality and increased visibility of diversity throughout the events industry.
“This all-day event will be filled with informative sessions hosted by organizations from around the world and feature inspiring speakers from all walks of our industry,” Clapes explained. “In our effort to make this experience financially accessible to everyone and spotlight inclusion throughout the meetings and events community, you can enjoy access to ‘Day of Diversity’ with any donation amount to LGBT MPA.”
He added, “Every initiative we choose to take on is designed to empower and uplift our members, driving us closer to creating a global events community where all are equal, included and welcome.”
For a detailed and updated agenda, as well as more information on speakers, speakers, content and event information, go here.
Above and Beyond
Even though planning a Pride Month campaign is a great way to show support for the LGBT+ community, there is so much that event organizations and planners can do to help create a more welcoming industry, Clapes said.
“Start by having a dialogue with your manager(s) and colleagues [and] get their perspective on implementing more inclusive practices at your organization’s meetings and events,” Clapes suggested. “Even if the LGBT+ community is not directly impacted by the work of your particular organization or your LGBT+ attendance is minimal, be an ally. Create an environment at your next meeting where everyone feels respected and represented.”
The easiest way to do that is to join LGBT MPA, Clapes added.
“Membership is free and offers education and networking opportunities that will help change the way you look at your next meeting,” he said. “For those more seasoned planners/suppliers who have a deeper understanding of inclusion within our industry, never stop driving those conversations with new colleagues or contacts. As an association planner, I work with hundreds of new people at new venues and in new cities each year. Never is there a time that I am not pushing to create experiences where inclusion and diversity are the very foundation.”