Carrie Abernathy Is Driving Hard Conversations with New Talkcast on Diversity and Inclusion
As a meeting planner for more than 15 years and co-founder of the Association for Women in Events (AWE), Carrie Abernathy understands the importance of diversity and inclusion in the events industry. She is currently the lead meeting planner for Altria Group Distribution Company and has served in a variety of leadership roles in the industry.
Abernathy recently started a weekly half-hour “talkcast” with fellow planner and PCMA board member Derrick Johnson called “Events: From Black to White” — and launched a new website called A Woman With Drive. Here, she shares more about these projects and the impact she is hoping to make on the events industry.
Why did you decide to launch A Woman With Drive?
After COVID-19 struck, AWE moved from a 501(c)(3) membership organization to a free online community, so I decided to take some time to focus on personal projects. A Woman With Drive ties together my love of golf, travel and leadership in the events industry. I share how golf has been an incredible business resource as well as a personal development tool. Since my launch in May, I have been asked to speak to organizations (most recently at Untethered 2020) on leadership, happiness, travel, and how golf ties in to business and self-development.
How did “Events: From Black to White” come about?
After the death of George Floyd and the protests that erupted, my events industry colleague and friend Derrick Johnson and I decided that something immediate and sustainable needed to be available where event industry colleagues could have frank discussions on topics from inequality to engagement and everything in between.
What is the format?
“Events: From Black to White” is a 30-minute free “talkcast.” Essentially, it is an unscripted, fast-paced discussion where we share our viewpoints in a forum that allows for interaction [by participants] via a comment section. Held on Crowdcast, it kicks off each Monday at noon EDT but can also be viewed later on demand. Our aim is to have an authentic conversation on inequality in the meetings industry. [We have] covered the topic of allyship and what a white ally [is]. On June 22, we [looked] at inherent versus unconscious bias.
How have the discussions been received so far?
People find it refreshing that we are approaching potentially uncomfortable conversations head-on. We have had more than 50 registrants and 40 attendees and are hoping to grow. Many of the people who watched our first discussion and participated in the conversation immediately registered for our second event [anyone can sign up for future conversations here].
Where do you see the conversations going?
We plan on having subject matter experts on diversity and inclusiveness, and other topics related to equality join us in the near future. We can’t lose steam if we are to affect real change, so we will carry on as long as we have attendees. Inclusiveness and equality are life-long topics that need to be addressed, reformed, developed and built upon in our industry and beyond. If we can help one person or change one heart, we will have achieved our mission.