Industry missing the mark on diverse event speakers
Industry missing the mark on diverse event speakers
03 SEPTEMBER 2020 7:32 AM

Some industry conference coordinators have tried to diversify the conference speaker list, but they need to do better, especially when it comes to finding Black speakers.

It’s time for conference coordinators to focus more on finding Black speakers for industry events.

Amidst all the racial inequality and injustice that’s happening in our world, I’ve started reporting more on how the industry can do better at diversifying the workforce, guest mix, conference speakers and attendees and more.

Here at HNN, we’ve been making a conscious effort to diversify the voices in our news articles and columns, and I think the industry as a whole should be doing the same.

In recent years, there’s been more of a push to get women on the stage at industry events, which is great, but diversity doesn’t end there.

I want to see more Black leaders on the stage, whether that’s in person or in the online format we’ve moved to because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Conference coordinators aren’t doing nearly enough to find the Black CEOs, COOs and other Black executives to speak on these panels. And I’m not sure what the reasoning is behind that, but it has to happen to create an inclusive industry. If you’re not already looking into it, take this time during the pandemic to do your research and find those Black voices.

I recently spoke with Martina Jones-Johnson, who is a board officer for the Black Travel Alliance. This organization has a Black Traveler Scorecard, which ranks hotels and other travel companies on their inclusiveness of Blacks in terms of employment, conferences, marketing and press.

Jones-Johnson said employment is the biggest thing the organization looks at because hiring Black leadership trickles down to employees at the hotel level and even to guests. And Black guests want to stay at hotels where there are other people working there who look like them and understand them.

So if attracting Black employees and guests starts with Black leadership, let’s find those leaders and employ those leaders and invite them speak about what they do and about their experiences at industry events.

If you’re looking for Black leaders to speak on your panels, try looking to sites like the Black Travel Alliance and others for speaker ideas. The National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers’ (NABHOOD) website is another great resource.

About me
This is my first blog for HNN, so I guess I should introduce myself.

If you couldn’t tell from the byline, my name is Danielle Hess. I’ve been with HNN for almost five years now, and I’m sure I’ve met many of you at industry events or talked to you via phone or email for interviews.

Want to know more about me or share your thoughts on attracting Black talent and conference speakers? Email me or find me on Twitter.

The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Bloggers published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.

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