Event and Tourism Industry Leaders Show Their Support for Social Change

February 16, 2021

An army of events industry leaders is taking a stand to promote diversity, equity and inclusion. Take a look: 

Reed Exhibitions

On Jan. 15, global event producer Reed Exhibitions announced that it will donate $1 million over the next five years to select global charity partners that are working to improve inclusivity and diversity in their local communities by supporting social change, fighting injustice and fostering development.

The charities that will benefit from the first portion of donations through the Reed Exhibitions Charity Fund include The Adus Instituto, Business Initiative for Racial Equality and the Zumbi dos Palmares University in Brazil; 18Twenty8 and Oliver’s House in South Africa; Heritage Corner and the Racial Justice Network in the U.K., and A Better Chance and Ally2Action in the U.S.  

“When we launched our Global Race Relations Committee in July last year, we made a commitment to contribute financial support to facilitate positive sustainable change, both in terms of funding, but also services to organizations that help support social change, fight injustice and promote the rule of law,” explained Hugh Jones, CEO of Reed Exhibitions. “The charities we will support have been identified in order to create meaningful, enduring changes that align with Reed Exhibitions’ strategic priorities and values and I’m looking forward to working with them." 

In the U.S., Ally2Action focuses on accelerating racial reconciliation by transforming fear of participating into courageous engagement. Through thoughtful content creation designed to educate and inform about U.S. race relations and Black history, the organization works to facilitate an understanding of how people can participate in transformative change.

Based in Darien, Conn., A Better Chance is a national program that serves racial minority students from under-represented areas around the country. Its mission is to increase the number of well-educated young people of color, with the hopes they eventually assume positions of responsibility and leadership in American society.

“Each of the charities’ initiatives are directly related to the GRRC’s objectives of people, business and community,” said Reed MIDEM (France) Social Media Manager Devon DeAngelo, who has been coordinating the initiative on behalf of the GRRC. “Where appropriate, we will look to find opportunities to work with the charities to create workshops, hold open discussions and identify mentorship opportunities across Reed Exhibitions.”

Tourism Diversity Matters

A new industry coalition has formed to create long-term solutions and change through diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. Launched on Feb. 1 and designed to be a resource that will educate, advocate, engage and empower in collaboration and cooperation with all industry initiatives, Tourism Diversity Matters follows a collective impact model dedicated to inspiring authenticity and inclusive leadership throughout the tourism and events industry.

Founding partners include ConferenceDirect Foundation, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau and SearchWide Global.

A 501 C (6), TDM works to address the blind spots of ethnic disparities and provide access, resources and tactics to decision-makers to develop more effective strategies that will engage and retain a diverse workforce. 

The group focuses on four primary pillars of activity: apprenticeships; workforce development; diversity, equity and inclusion; and research and data. Its goal is to sustain and expand the platform by collaborating with associated organizations and industries and notable research institutions to develop impactful solutions for all involved.

TDM Chairman Elliott Ferguson, who is also president and CEO of Destination DC, has been a long-time advocate for repairing diversity deficiencies and misrepresentations in the corporate environment.

“Addressing racism should impact how you lead – it’s an American issue,” said Ferguson, who is one of a few black CVB chief executives. “As many are confronting these issues for the first time, we can’t turn a blind eye and we can’t turn back. The pandemic has forced us to slow down and focus on being human. We need to be comfortable with uncomfortable conversations and having these discussions not only at home, but also in the workplace.”

PHLCVB Executive Director Greg DeShields, a respected leader on behalf of DEI initiatives that have helped raise Philadelphia’s image as an inclusive, multicultural visitor destination, has been appointed TDM executive director. He will continue to lead PHL Diversity, a division of PHLCVB. 

The organization’s inaugural board of directors reads like a who’s-who of the events industry, with members including: 

  •  Dr. Brandi Baldwin, CEO, Millennial Ventures Holdings
  • Debra Blair, Director of Organizational Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Temple University School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management
  • Ray Bloom, Chairman, IMEX
  • Cathy Breden, CAE, CMP, CEM, EVP & COO, IAEE; Chair-Elect, Events Industry Council 
  • Amy Calvert, CEO, Events Industry Council 
  • Gregg Caren, President and CEO, Philadelphia CVB
  • Mark Cooper, CEO, International Association of Conference Centers; Chairman, Events Industry Council 
  • Melissa Cherry, COO, Destinations International
  • Roger Dow, President and CEO, US Travel Association
  • Christine Duffy, President, Carnival Cruise Line
  • Elliott Ferguson, President and CEO, Destination DC
  • Mike Gamble, President and CEO, SearchWide Global
  • Al Hutchinson, President and CEO, Visit Baltimore
  • Sherrif Karamat, President and CEO, PCMA
  • Michelle Mason, FASAE, CAE, CQIA, President and CEO, Association Forum
  • Brad Mayne, President and CEO, International Association of Venue Managers
  •  Lynette Montoya, President and CEO, Latino Hotel Association
  • Carrie Freeman Parsons, Chair, Freeman
  • Leah Smiley, President, Society for Diversity, Inc.
  • Brian Stevens, CEO, ConferenceDirect  
  • Paul M. VanDeventer, President and CEO, MPI
  • Telesa Via, VP, Sales, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants
  • Carl Winston, Director of the L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, San Diego State University

 “Tourism Diversity Matters offers the opportunity to reset and heal from a year filled with the most challenging moments in modern history,” Freeman Parsons said. “I am honored to be part of this important collaboration moving all toward an inclusive environment with equitable access and participation.” 

Tiered partnership opportunities are available; to learn more, go here.

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