Steps to diversify your workforce – today and tomorrow
s the exhibition industry comes back to life , many companies are starting to hire new employees . This presents a wonderful opportunity to begin diversifying our collective workforce . According to Ideal . com , diversity in the workplace refers to a workforce comprised of individuals of dfferent races , ethnicities , genders , age , religions , physical abilities , and other demographics .
Lisa Skriloff , president of Multicultural Resources , Inc ., and publisher of Multicultural . com and Multicultural Travel News has been a proponent of workforce and cultural diversity for decades . I first met her when my company launched a show called Expo Latina Comida , The Hispanic Food & Beverage Show , with Diversified in the early 2000 ’ s . ( She ’ s an exhibition fan !)
I asked her to share some thoughts on how organisations can begin now to diversify their teams and what we can do in the days to come . She said : “ In the travel ( and trade show ) industry , the single most important thing is to be welcoming .” Stop judging new hires on looks . Lend a hand in the onboarding process . Hear their suggestions and embrace fresh perspectives .”
Where can we find new people ? Lisa recommends employers attend minority recruitment fairs both digitally and in person . ( Multicultural . com has some listed .) She also recommends finding new hires ( particularly entrance levels ) through schools . That ’ s not as easy as it looks . As an industry , we are terrible at getting the word out about our profession and sector to high schools and universities . One bright spot is the IMEX / IAEE Faculty Engagement Programme . Held since 2015 , the programme is for influential teachers / professors of academic teaching hospitality , event , or tourism management courses . It provides two days of engagement with meetings industry leaders , as well as discussion of trends and
Top : Stephanie Selesnick
Above : Lisa Skriloff
innovations , and provides a chance to see the business events industry in action .
For a few years , SISO had a programme and accompanying PowerPoint for members to speak at university business and marketing programmes , but it went away during the Great Recession . Lastly , there are a few collegiate hospitality schools , but overall as an industry , we ’ re mostly nowhere .
This is something all of us can do now to help elevate the exhibition industry while diversifying the incoming workforce . It ’ s not only in high schools , colleges , and universities . What about vocational schools ? One can make a very nice living in all sectors of our industry . An additional bonus of sharing our industry in schools is that it will only help amplify the message that exhibitions mean business .
Lisa said : “ Expose future employees to the trade show industry in high school and college , showcasing opportunities they may not be aware of . For example , The New York Advertising Club ’ s Diversity Committee held an event with minority students to share jobs within the advertising industry . One student said he was interested in a music career and was told that most commercials feature music – another career path he never knew about .”
Lisa also suggests working with school counsellors and exhibiting at school career fairs to get the word out about our industry . Hold sessions such as her Diversity Committee did . Hire paid interns to work your in person AND digital shows and events . And it ’ s not just show management who should be doing this . ( Hint to our supplier partners …)
Lisa ’ s last bit of advice : “ The biggest mistake I ’ ve seen employers do is try to do too much at one time . Instead , start small . Start with one new thing , then build on its success and learnings .” What ’ s the one thing your company plans to start doing today to diversify your team ?
12 Issue 5 2021 www . exhibitionworld . co . uk