By Sherrif Karamat, PCMA President and CEO
Diverse teams and companies perform better, are more creative and are better at solving problems. Don't just take my word for it. Consider the McKinsey & Co. study that determined companies with the highest ethnic and racial diversity in management were 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their industry’s mean, while companies that led in gender diversity were 15 percent more likely to have financial returns higher than industry mean. Or, consider the Credit Suisse Group global analysis that found organizations with at least one female board member yielded higher return on equity and higher net income growth than those with no women on the board.
Despite those findings, many organizations have yet to make real progress towards inclusion -- perhaps because of flawed strategies rather than reluctance to try.
I believe the business events industry can have a significant role in fostering success in this important area. The business events industry is built on bringing people together, and I believe doing so can influence corporate culture. Simply put, business events can be an ideal platform for diversity and inclusion strategies and discussion. When people meet face-to-face, they better understand each other and can remove potential barriers. Business events are already a medium for open communication regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, age, disability or sexual preference.
PCMA has its own role in this call for diversity and inclusion. Earlier this year, we launched Ascent, an initiative to help the business events industry become more inclusive and diverse. We asked our community to sign the Ascent CEO Promise, and more than 100 leaders agreed to:
- Make our workplaces and events open and trusting settings.
- Provide education on barriers to inclusivity, including unconscious bias.
- Share what we know, what we learn and what needs improvement.
Convening Leaders, PCMA's signature annual conference, will feature an Ascent Studio during our Jan. 6-9 event in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The educational track includes sessions with global diversity expert Anka Wittenberg, author Lindsey Pollak, and "Queer Eye" co-host and culture expert Karamo Brown. Billie Jean King, a champion of diversity and inclusion, will be a Convening Leaders keynote speaker.
Diversity and inclusion make sense for business events, and business in general. It can increase profits and performance, drive innovation and improve adaptability. I am optimistic that the business events industry can be the catalyst for a more inclusive society. Together, we can make everyone everywhere feel valued and welcomed.
For more information on other sessions, visit conveningleaders.org.