A panel of experts addressed a very sensitive topic and a hard one to approach for fear of saying the wrong thing. Why Black Lives Matter (BLM)? Specifically, why is it good to have diversity? Why are there so few BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) people at a senior level in the events industry and what can we do about it?
Frances Green, Managing Director, Green & Pleasant Events
Orson Francescone, Managing Director, FT Live at Financial Times
Jessica Charles, Co-head, Black Tomato Agency
Stuart Mason, SVP Commercial, Revenue & Distribution, Belmond
Fay Sharpe, Founder, FastForward15
The problem doesn’t simply lay with BLM or BAME. It is a global issue that encompasses gender, sexuality, religious beliefs, etc.
Racism does exist and there clearly is an inequality in the MICE industry, especially at a senior level. People who are racist are often more eloquent and more militant than the minorities they discriminate against. To combat racism, society needs to have structural reforms at a senior level across all sectors: education, politics, economy, etc.
Ideally, the government should be proactive and back up a BAME scheme but this seems unlikely to happen when the cabinet itself doesn’t lead by example (the current cabinet only includes 2 "non-white" MPs ). Therefore changes are more likely to come from within the MICE industry lobbying the governing bodies.
Companies observing a D&I policy attract a more diverse range of clients as many clients do not feel represented by white male staff.
The FT is one of the most progressive (media) businesses in the UK, having launched a gender and ethnic diversity programme that is based on 5 pillars:
The collection of employee’s data via Workday (HR software) and set up of goals. About 80% of the FT Live staff have completed the survey and the FT is aiming for a workforce to include 22% BAME (currently at 18%).
Building an inclusive culture within the company by offering inclusive leadership training and set up employee’s networks such as LGBTQ, BAME community, mental health network etc.
Inclusive recruitment practices with 50/50 male vs female and 25% BAME candidates to be shortlisted for all job openings,
Flexible working hours and location.
Strengthening partnerships with local charities specific to the BAME communities,
Many companies only receive few BAME job applications because most of their mentors are white males. A change in the mentoring process is needed to encourage more applications from minorities. Going forward, the recruitment set up needs to be slower and more inclusive.
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Please give us your feedback and thoughts on why Black Lives Matter.