Beyond Black History Month: Amplify Diversity in Your Marketing & Events Year Round

Listen to this podcast via your favorite podcast player

Episode description

The events industry is called upon to celebrate and bring attention to holidays throughout the year, Black History Month included. But amplifying black voices and promoting diversity in events and marketing cannot be reserved to one month. We have to be intentional about making it a permanent part of the planning process.

Felicia Asiedu, Cvent’s Senior Marketing Manager in Europe and co-founder of the Diverse Speakers Bureau, and Hana Jacover, Executive Coach and Women in Revenue Board Member, join us in this episode to examine diversity, and the current lack thereof, in the event world. They also share their experiences as women of color and journeys of self-reflection and self-love that made them who they are today.

Listen in as they discuss the importance of authenticity in diversifying panels, production teams, and suppliers, and offer specific advice for achieving those goals. Along the way, you’ll learn about the role self-reflection and awareness play in ensuring diversity and inclusion in events.

Show notes

  • How to add diversity to events beyond speaker panels, such as in production teams and food suppliers
  • The importance of allies in making spaces for open conversations and self-reflection on diversity issues
  • How to leverage your privilege to open doors for others

Things to listen for:

[05:30] Hana’s unique journey of personal development
[11:16] Felicia’s lived experience
[16:13] Boldly calling out the need for more diversity
[18:36] Using privilege to open doors for others
[24:43] Promoting diversity beyond speaker panels
[27:19] Doing the inner work around biases
[32:33] Being aware of the systems you’re operating in
[41:42] The importance of self-reflection and self-education
[46:18] Celebrating diversity wins
[49:40] The power of representation

Meet your host

Rachel Andrews Senior Director, Global Meetings & Events

Meet your guest speakers

Hana Jacover Evidence-Based Leadership & Executive Coach and Women in Revenue Board Member and Speakers Bureau Lead
Felicia Asiedu Cvent Senior Manger of Demand Gen for Europe and Co-Founder for the Diverse Speaker Bureau in UK

Additional resources

Episode Transcript

Rachel: What is up? Great events podcast fam? What is going on in the amazing world of events and marketing? I am Rachel, and today we are joined by two very special guests, Hana Jacover, who is Evidence-Based Leadership and Executive Coach, Women in Revenue Board Member and a Speaker's Bureau Lead. Wow. Lots of things there to to do on your plate. And of course we are also joined by Felicia Aseidu, Senior Manager of Demand Gen for our Europe region at Cvent. She's also the Co-Founder of Diverse Speakers Bureau in the UK. Thank you both for joining us I know you're both busy, busy women.

Hana: Thanks for having me.

Felicia: And I'm glad to be back. I love joining a podcast.

Rachel: A fan favorite Felicia's, almost like a, a honorary guest, a host that, comes on a lot of podcasts, so we're glad to have you back. today we have a very special podcast on diversity at events, and in organizations. I know the diversity topic has many, many layers to it, but today, in honor of Black History Month, we are discussing racial diversity and how events and marketing, at organizations can help amplify black voices at events, but also beyond that.

So let's just kick it off. I'd love to begin our show by letting our podcast guests give some history about themselves Hana, I wanna start with you. If you could give our listeners a little bit of your history and, what you're all about.

Hana: Absolutely. Well, I spent, over a decade on the B2B tech marketing side, primarily at agencies helping, executives and their team really understand demand generation, marketing, operations, lead management, all things under that umbrella, which was such a blast. And through that process also really got close to the people pillar, the people operations, such an important pillar in, in orgs and I've always been just very passionate about that pillar as well.

Both of my parents are executive coaches, so the coaching mindset has just been like hammered into my brain. Subconsciously, I think, since I was younger. I spent some time at a startup running demand gen, and then I pivoted, I pivoted into coaching. So I, I just found myself at a crossroads where I really wanted to make more of an impact at the one-to-one level and followed in the footsteps of my wonderful parents.

Hana: So now I'm a leadership and executive coach, and also involved in women in Revenue, as you mentioned, as a board member and leading the speakers bureau with our executive director.

Felicia, I know listeners, know you, but I'd love for you to give just two, two seconds again to give your background.

So I started in technology when I thought I was actually going into the music business, to be honest. I started in managed hosting, moved into working in data centers in a sales role. But I always knew I loved marketing. It's what I did most of when I was at university. and I got the opportunity to pivot into the marketing world, and just quite rapidly grew cause I love it so much.

it started with more brand repositioning, working in a head office, really working on the corporate marketing strategies. And then I went off to a smaller company where I suddenly became a very. kind of, they thought I was very knowledgeable because I come from a larger organization and I really leaned into that.

Felicia: So I got to do a real breadth of marketing, whether it's from graphic design, email sends, lead generation, it was just all round marketing. So that put me in good stead to just become this all round marketer. I do literally every little piece of it, which is why it works well in my field marketing role at Cvent because we're able to look across the whole of Europe and think about it on quite a grand scale.

So I'm definitely in my happy place where I get to work in the world of events and technology at the same time. and love running my marketing organization now. And I had to add, cuz you mentioned about the diverse speaker bureau, I'm like, hold on. This is about diversity. So couple years back got involved with three other ladies.

I'll talk about this more, as we go along, with the diverse speaker bureau, but we now offer diverse speakers for events and conferences again, across Europe.

Rachel: Great. Well, thank you both for joining. We have a lot, we have a lot of topics to cover here. I know diversity is such a huge topic and you know, when we were discussing on our, our prep call, I feel like there's so many different ways and avenues you could go down, as you're talking about ways to incorporate diversity, into your events and marketing programs.

Um, so we wanna talk today about, events, specifically your marketing programs, but also how organizations are addressing things. This isn't just a Black History month, topic. This is a year round, approach to changing your mindset and shifting the way you do things. before we get into all of that and all that goodness that these, these two experts have to share here, I'd love to just turn it over to the two of you and, and let you share your personal stories.

Hana: Sure. Yeah. And I'll say too, when you have so many lived experiences, your personal and professional lives like. The way that you show up, there's a reason for that. And they're very much intertwined. So that's why for me personally, like it's always important for me to tell my story because it allows people to understand why I show up the way that I show up in my, in every area of my life.

And also, you know, people will see the progression. Someone's career or whatever they choose to do in their journey. you, you really just have to hear the story, right? You have to make space for their stories because it's their unique journey. You won't ever really be able to replicate it or truly understand it until you hear somebody's story and exactly why they show up that way.

So I just wanted to preface with for me personally, I've had quite the journey. I come from a, a fully adopted family, so I'm a transracial adopt, which essentially means my parents are not the same race as me, they're white. I am biracial. I identify as black, and my siblings are also adopted from different families.

So that, growing up was sort of my environment. I was also raised in a predominantly, somewhat small, somewhat like pretty affluent town in Oregon. And so all of that really played a major, major role in my identity and, just kind of my journey into becoming, I think. And, lots of just different experiences that come from that, you know, from being adopted, looking different than my family.

being biracial, being raised in a white town, trying to just,you know, navigate all of those waters, especially when you're younger. it is really challenging and I think a lot of that. Necessarily show up for me until much later in my life because, I didn't have black community around me. I didn't have black parents.

Hana: I didn't have a lot of the language, I didn't have a, connection to my culture, my ancestors, my black family. And so growing up, like there was a distance for me that I always really wanted to close that gap, but I didn't know how. and I think,

When George Floyd was murdered, that was really a catalyst for me. It really accelerated me on on my journey of personal development, of understanding my identity, of reclaiming a lot of things that, were always mine, but I allowed to be other people's, especially other people that didn't understand me.

So that was a time where, you know, obviously the world kind of stopped for a minute and looked up and there was a lot of call to actions. And with that, I was seeing some things that I hadn't seen before given my background around, different language, right? Like learning about different language, microaggressions, things that had happened to me my entire life, but I had never been able to articulate them and instead I internalized them.

So there was a lot of anger there at that time for me. I think it opened up some wounds that I didn't even, I shove them so deep down, right? That's what we're taught to do, especially as black women. so I didn't deal with them for a long time and it opened up a lot for. And it started with anger, and then it turned into a really beautiful journey of self-love and compassion and trust, and just learning to know who I am and remember who I am, and, deal with some of the things that, again, like I wanted to reclaim.

I wanted to reclaim my hair, I wanted to reclaim my identity as a black woman and own that and know what it meant to me personally. and so that was, that was a really powerful journey for me. I also, during this time or a little bit before, I found on 23 and me, believe it or not, my half sister, from my paternal side of the family.

And that was something that I had wanted for a very long time. I had always known about my birth mother, who's white, but I didn't have a lot of information around my birth father. And that's really where I felt connected, in terms of my identity. So I found my sister, I was introduced to all my other siblings.

There were, there's many of them. so that was a wild ride. You know, they knew about me. They, they were like, sis, you know, Hey, what's up? We found you. And for me, I didn't know about them. So it was a really interesting journey. And, I just had to kind of approach it slowly and.

Learn how they would become a part of my life. and it's been really great, you know, learning, just feeling connected, right? Like having that community in terms of family feeling connected, knowing my history, like knowing where I come from and being able to honor that. it's turned into a journey of self-discovery and love, and I'm grateful for the triggers. I think when George Floyd was murdered, I was telling my mom, like, my ancestors are literally calling to me right now. Like, that was the only way I could describe it.

And they were like, deal with your ish lady so you can show up, so you can show up and you can stand in your power. And that's what I did. It was not fun, but that's what I did.

Felicia: Oh, such a cool story. Honestly, like listening to you talk, I think about so many things like. I have like so many questions and so many things I relate to. I listen to you talk about learning language and you know, showing up as yourself and there's just so many words I could go down with that

But I'll share a bit about me and why. I feel like that's a shared experience. So when I was six weeks old, my mom gave me to a foster parent. It was a very weird time in the eighties. I don't know what was happening, but I went to live with this foster mom and dad and I knew them as mom and dad because I was six weeks old.

Felicia: And it, again, small town just like Hugh, predominantly White Town. In fact, I was literally the only black person in that town. But I had no idea that I was different. And when I was five my dad was like, she has to come home at least to come to school. So I was now suddenly back in London with this black family that I couldn't relate to at all.

And they were very West African. So very serious on the punishment side of things, like very strict with how they speak loud. You know, if you imagine all the things that, like white people might say about black people on a bad day, like, oh, that's so loud. And they're so, it's so harsh. And, I felt that way because I'd come from a different environment where everything was, I love you, and it was softer.

And then I got to go back to Kent where I was every summer, winter, holiday, Easter holiday. So I spent my happy times in Kent until I was 11. And what I would consider my not so happy times in London during school times with this black family that I had no knowledge of. And then fast forward to secondary school, which is high school in America.

And that was a great moment for bullying because I probably didn't have a clue who I was. And I was too bougie in one side. I was too white on one side, not black enough...too black on the other side cause I'm dark-skinned, so I didn't fit in with the light-skinned era of black women.

Cause there's a lot of colorism that happened back in that time. So water world to grow up in. And I think I found a happier place at university because it was a bit more of a mix. But I was back in that kind of mostly white environment. And then back into the world of work, I felt like I could fit in. I felt like I could be a chameleon because I had experienced both sides.

So in my professional life I knew how to put on the right tones and all of that to be in a corporate world. But early on in my career, I got called all of those names of like, you're being aggressive. people can't relate to you. They cannot come to you. And I was a trainer. I got sent to Texas to train people on how to sell our product and open a new office in Austin.

But yet for some reason, even though there was that level of faith, , there was still the side eye of like, but you're quite aggressive and all that. And I was thinking, and at the time I was like, am I aggressive? Am I aggressive? I must be. But as I've grown up, I was like, I wasn't, I actually wasn't aggressive.

I was just me and I was just, like you say, showing up as my authentic black self as much as I could. But that was too much for some people. So it's been quite a journey in my professional life of that comedian skin. I feel like I know I still do it sometimes when I feel that it's the right way to be, I will still comedian, and I guess I sometimes don't even know that I'm doing it.

And I sometimes think, well, hey, there's a different way that you'd speak to your friends, that you would speak to your colleague, that you'd speak to your mom. So maybe I'm just doing that, or am I putting on my whiteness where I need to or am I not? Have no idea . So I think I'm still trying to navigate that.

But I guess in some ways it works. In other ways, I shouldn't have to do that. I shouldn't have to be one person to one person, another person to, I should just be able to be me. But that is a challenge. So that's a bit about me,

I don't think anyone should ever tell someone that they're too much or being aggressive, like that is the biggest pet peeve of mine. Just let people be who they are and don't focus on that.

Rachel: Thank you for sharing your stories. I think there's super powerful, and I love the, the journeys that you both shared, of self-reflection but also self-love.

I think that it's a really important thing to do for yourself, in all backgrounds. So I want to talk about your backgrounds and how it's currently helping your current role in working with organizations. So, Felicia, actually, let's start with you this time since we started with Hana.

Obviously I know your current role at Cvent, but within your diverse speaker agency, I know you're working currently on amplifying and getting, more attention to folks that might not have that. And I would love to just chat through how your background has helped impact that and helped impact working with organizations.

Felicia: So the diverse speaker bureau started probably a year and a half ago. So we're a really kind of baby company. And it all started because a few of us all knew this lady called Faye Sharp, who has worked in the events industry for a long time alongside Zet and B C D. And sh put out her 15 mentors and mentees for that year and took a picture and they were all white and she kind of, and it was about that George Floyd time, and she kind of recoiled and was like, oh my goodness, I know how this is gonna, look.

And even beyond that, she was like, forget how it looks. I don't want this, why is my whole cohort white? So she called up some black and brown women. and I happened to be one of them and she said, I need a group of people that can advise my business, advise my company how to change this. you know, not just for the aesthetics of it, but I want a diverse cohort of people that are mentors and mentees.

So we worked for about a year, just trying to advertise what the richness of diversity can bring, why people might want to be involved. We held, events for, people of color specifically. We would, we didn't actually mince our words and say, hey, there's a kind of open, inclusive event for every kind of person.

We were like, no, there's an event for black and brown women to come and understand why you might wanna be a part of this. And it worked. It changed her cohort. She had different kinds of mentors and mentees the following year, and she continues to talk to us. But during that we, we're noticing no one's that bold, they're not saying I need to have this level of diversity.

They were like, maybe we need to think about maybe doing something. So one of our ladies said we should just open a speaker bureau where we can, you know, get people in that can add value to people's events. but not get them in so they can be a brown face on a panel. It's like, I need an engineer, I need a mathematician, I need a whatever.

And we can find one of those for you. They might just happen to be diverse. So that's how we run, that's what we kind of advise people to do. It's like you might come to us to say, I need a person to that's talking about ai and we will find you someone in our books. They happen to be diverse. We're not gonna find you.

Our black woman necessary is gonna talk about ai. We're gonna find you someone in our books that can talk about ai. That's it. So that's how we try to educate people and we also run workshops as well, at events on how people can think about it differently. So, Hannah, what about you?

Hana: Yeah. Um, gosh, I feel like. There's so much. You know, I think for first and foremost, for me in my journey, being able to recognize and be comfortable with using my voice, and how I can do that in my career and in the places that I was working. I have a level of privilege. I have, you know, we all have privileges, right?

I have light skinned privilege, right? I am closer to whiteness you know, than Felicia, right? I am lighter skinned, and that is an appropriate version of blackness in the eyes of many people. So for me to be able to leverage those privileges so I can open doors for other people is. One of the most important things that I can do, I'm not a DEI expert, but I am an expert in my life and an expert in the way that I've navigated things and the way that other people like me have to navigate those things.

So using my voice in any area that I can within my career has been really important. Whether that be just being really direct about listen, nobody else is saying this and I've had the lived experience. I also have the privilege where there's probably less repercussions for me to say something.

And so it's important for me to do that, whether it was in a specific work environment where language was being used that wasn't appropriate, or whether it's on LinkedIn and you are celebrating your all white, top 50 list of executives, right? That's not okay. And so for people just aren't typically calling it out.

And what's really upsetting is the people that do call it out are.

Hana: Or people of color, right? And those are the ones that are using their voices and actually saying the things that people don't wanna hear. so, you know, there are obviously allies and whatnot out there, but you know, in my experience, it's primarily the people of color, the black individuals that are, are using their voices and, and just saying it in a very, here's what's happening, here's the objective. so yeah, I've been able to kind of take that and, take it to women in revenue, right? We, in the last year and a half have really looked at our diversity as an organization. We support women at all levels. Our goal is 100% equity in the workplace, and our diversity was lacking, right? All of the layers, and, which I know we'll talk about, but we had a lot of women, right?

It's all for women. But when you look at the racial diversity, when you even look at like the, the level of seniority and the sexual orientations, the abilities that was skewed. So being able to introduce new layers of diversity to that organization has been really impactful as Co-Lead of the Speakers Bureau.

We have trainings, right? We have trainings. We place speakers similar to Felicia and I contribute to like our events, right? Where people can talk about things, we can contribute to content. It is so important for me to make sure that what is going out into the world, we are looking at it through the various lenses of diversity.

Am I gonna hire all really talented? people that just happen to be black to lead some of our speakers programming, speakers bureau programming. Hell yeah...yeah, that's what we should all be doing, right? So, um, being able to use these positions of, of power, right? and any privilege that I have to open those doors to add representation, to use my voice, and that's just kind of how it has spread out throughout my career.

I feel like this podcast could be two hours long. I think diversity in general, like, could be, there's so many different layers, like we talked about before. Um, wanna focus on the, the racial side of things. I know there's a lot on the neurodiversity.

Rachel: It's just like stuff like that that also flows into diversity that we, we should be talking about. I wanna segue really quick into the events industry because, one of the topics I was just talking about was how event professionals and even. going into event marketers are stewards of change a lot of times.

And, I feel like our CEO said this before, that like at major events in history have impacted a lot of social change. And a lot of times either it's a movement or it's an event professional, and it doesn't have to be a corporate event professional, it can be somebody organizing a rally or somebody organizing, some sort of movement in the government.

Those oftentimes surround themselves around events. And for me, I always view myself and any of my coworkers or friends in the industry that are event professionals, as people that, are shepherds of this duty of care and we have a higher calling to broaden this. We shouldn't just asking our friends to speak and they happen to look like us.

Rachel: Like we need to broaden that and gain those additional perspectives because that's the only way we're gonna get better together. on the events industry specifically. Felicia, you're super involved with me on events. I think sometimes people try to use check boxes, like you were saying before they tiptoe around the subject.

They're scared to say black or people of color. and I think organizations use Black History Month as a checkbox. When we said in the beginning, it should be a year round thing, it shouldn't be, a checkbox that you go. so on that note, what can the events industry or event, influencers or professionals do on a year round, basis to help amplify people of color, at events or within their own teams?

You know, marketers included.

Felicia: Yeah. I'm gonna use the word authenticity because I think that's what it comes down to. I think it's about being. a little bit authentic with what your intentions really are. And when people are not authentic, it really shows. So, I guess one of the most obvious things is, is speaker panel. So that's why, you know, we always talk about that and it, it is one of the most obvious ways that people showcase diversity because if you put someone on the panel that looks like me or looks like Hana, you suddenly, you do tick more boxes.

And I think that has been the way that a lot of event professionals have gone with. We need to sort our speakers out, which is, I guess why diverse Speaker Bureau was born and all the other speaker agencies are like doing okay with this. But there's so much more. It's like in your production, in your video teams and your, you know, in your team of people that are building that.

Where did you find that talent? Where are your suppliers coming from and have you looked beyond the norm? Like I know we're in tough times and you need trusted suppliers that can deliver what you think you need for your event and your, your event goals. But that doesn't stop you from stretching out, reaching out beyond, like I ran a workshop just the other day with Fcom, thank you to them.

They're allowing me to run these workshops, you know, associations about diversity. And one of the guys said, and he was really funny because he was, you know, a little bit older, you know, gray haired white guy. So he was watching his words. But I loved him so much cuz he was just saying things and he said, You know when you go to the Notting Hill Carnival in, in London, there are these big speaker sound systems, like, and the guys spend so much time making sure the sound is perfect for people to come and dance.

He said, why can't we in the production industry, go and find those guys that love sound and get them in. So they filter in a feed through to the events and make sure that your sound at your events is awesome because they have a passion for it. Like where are those young? And he said, sorry to say black guys.

And I was like, it's fine . He said, where are those young black guys coming into production? You just don't see them. So I think we need to look beyond the stage. Yes, because fine, but be authentic about what you're trying to achieve. If you want great sound, find other places to get it. You're not gonna get it from the same people that have the same ideas about what good sound is.

The world has changed and you need to kind of shift with it. so that would be my, thing. You gotta stretch, really stretch beyond your audience.

 Rachel: Hannah, I don't know if you've seen that too, with your Black Speakers Coalition and dealing with events, do you face the similar things?

I've definitely seen it and just being, you know, have gone on the speaker track. and it's pretty devastating from many levels, right? For me personally, not having that representation is pretty heartbreaking. and then also thinking about the wider societal impact, right? Who we are as one humanity.

but yeah, I mean, you see it all over the place, and I think it really is. There's not a pipeline problem, everybody, right? It, there's not a pipeline problem. You're just looking in the wrong places. And you're not taking the time. You're not taking the time. And I do believe, as Felicia said, it is about intention, authenticity, and it's also about consideration, right?

Hana: Like, just consider, just consider, look at it objectively and ask yourself, Am I supporting, diverse communities with this effort? Am I also creating a safe space for them to come into that they would want to come into? Am I specifically elevating them in ways where, they maybe wouldn't have gotten those opportunities before knowing that they deserve them?

So I think it, it really is about that intention, the authenticity and thinking about it, And also I think just, just a lot of education. It's a lot of, it's a lot of inner work. You know, people want to snap their fingers and fix diversity. But listen, y'all, you gotta fix yourself first.

it's the reflection that, and people don't wanna hear this, people don't wanna do the inner work, but like, you have to, I'm sorry. so whether that is introducing trainings at work, right? Unconscious bias trainings, workshops, like Felicia said, things that will be a catalyst to you actually doing that work and actually examining what's going on inside of you and your own biases, your own assumptions, your own beliefs, your own values, right?

 Hana: Like, you really have to look at those things objectively in order to really, really play the part and walk the walk.

Rachel: Yeah. I wanna follow up on something that Felicia kind of touched on, but I think event organizers stop, their diversity initiatives at those panels sometimes, right? but what about inclusive marketing? What about content?

What about, ways that you can have other networking opportunities on site for more diverse experience, experiences on site that are more, more diverse and more inclusive for people that, are interested in different topics? and I think we shouldn't just stop at. . We have one woman and, and one black person and one white person on this panel.

Like, why is that? Why is that the checkbox? Um, it, it should be this inclusive nature of the entire event program. An entire marketing experience. like something you said earlier, I think Hannah or Felicia is inclusive marketing. and speaking the same language, the unconscious bias, weaving it into your content, that's how we become better allies as, as event producers.

And it's just something that I just wanted to hone in on because I think people sometimes forget that their people might not be thinking about all of that within their events program, or maybe their organization is 80% white and they don't think through all the ways that content could impact a lot of diverse people.

You're missing a whole huge audience of people by not paying attention to,

Felicia: A hundred percent. Like one of the areas that I'm gonna give like a very general area of, it's never gonna be diverse unless the supply chain changes is food. The food is what the food is. The hotel provides a certain food, and that's the food. Can you imagine if at a venue suddenly we were doing like a slight variation on Jack Chicken or Gelo Rice that comes from West Africa or something more, beyond what we've got used to of like, and I'm, I'm not gonna like, undermine anyone's food.

Like everybody's food comes around, but people get very comfortable with PanAsian and they get very comfortable with, oh, it's a curry. And they, and that's it. And it's like, wow, we've really pushed the boundaries, but there's so much other food out there. But because we are very limited in what we think is the norm and what the hotel says, this is it.

You say, well, that's it. That's all the food I'm ever gonna eat at the moment. , so like I, and I know this because I, I happen to do a little bit of work with an organization called Curb because, uh, the, one of the ladies that works there is on the diverse speaking bureau and they have different suppliers all feeding in through Curb.

They supply food to venues like the XL in London is one of them. So you get smaller food producers going through the name of Curb so that they can be trusted out there in the world of events. It's just a way of diversifying that supply chain, that curb have taken that role of you. Trust me, I will get you something that is cool.

And that's the same with diverse speaker Bureau. If you trust us, I will get you something. That's cool. So that's how the supply chain changes and I think until people are willing to do that, it's gonna always look the same. It's gonna taste the same.

Rachel: Yeah. How else do you think event organizers or marketers could do better? Let's give our listeners something to, to, to aim for

Hana: Yeah, I, I think one change that, or at least just one consideration to make is, we move so fast. Marketers in particular move so fast because they're trying to see results, right? And why are they doing that? Right? Why are you moving so quickly? It's because you're, it's because you're beholden to the board.

You're beholden to the shareholders. You're beholden to, right? Which then, Is a bigger picture. What we're looking at is a system you are operating in, a system that has one goal and one goal only. And you as an individual are a cog in that system. And if you don't perform the way that everybody is expecting you to perform, you lose your safety.

You lose the things that you believe are going to allow you to, elevate in your life. So backing out and looking at those systems, you know, what's preventing you from taking the time to actually have this consideration, have this authenticity, and just knowing, just being aware of those systems, right?

Because this is a, this is not just like a marketing events problem, right? And we know that, but we, we are often just kind of stuck in that tunnel vision. and also hire an inclusive marketing consultant, right? Like that's something you can literally do tomorrow. I know at least five. and they will help you.

They will help you ensure that what you're putting out there as your message, content, events, you are constantly thinking about, you know, in inclusivity as a strategy and different ways to approach that. and that's another way to support black individuals, right? Hire a black marketing consultant or, inclusive marketing consultant and they will 1000% be able to help you in redirect you and make sure that you can make the changes necessary for us to move in, have that forward momentum towards closing the the gap.

Rachel: On that note, I wanna move to some organization questions cause I feel like we've answered some of them, but you know, I think we keep harping on this. Hana, I think you said on the call earlier when we talked before the podcast, like about Black History Month in general, I'm gonna address the elephant in the room here.

She said, I'm not black. Just one month a year. And I think that that's really important for people to hear. Black History Month is important because it does elevate and amplify, but again, we have to talk about it all year.

Question for both of you actually-I know it's important for organizations to elevate and educate. You can start with the consulting, ideas that Hana just gave, and getting that outside perspective or inside perspective. If you have a DEI component of your organization, kudos to you. You're, doing the right thing already, but you can go even further. What can organizations do, year round to celebrate, black stories, black impact, et cetera?

I think there's a lot that we've already talked about. You know, it's number one in my mind is reflection and education and what individually as well as group, right? And so there's lots of different things that you can do from an organizational perspective. Lots of workshops, lots of trainings, your DEI efforts.

Hana: So making sure that those are widespread throughout the organization and encouraging the individual work as well. So doing that reflection both internally around your own values and beliefs, but also at the organizational level.

How are you supporting the black employees? Do you create safe spaces? Are you using your voice? Do you elevate other black voices? And if you have black people in your organization, it's not just. Getting people in the door, right? Where are they sitting in, in terms of seniority? I guarantee you most of them are not in leadership positions. How can you elevate them to leadership positions? So those are uncomfortable conversations for people to have, and I think that that's the most important thing.

Hana: Other than that, I think, just support black individuals. Pay us, right? Like pay us for the emotional labor that we literally have to endure every single day of our lives when we're offering something to you. so support black-owned businesses, support black consultants, creators, artists, whatever that may be.

You can find people to partner with, organizations to partner with, and organizations to donate to. And I think the one thing that I will say before passing on to Felicia is one thing not to do is nothing. And claiming that, you know, essentially don't be colorblind because that is something that a lot of well-intended white people say.

Hana: And it is one of the most offensive things you can say to me because it tells me that you don't see me, you don't care to see me, you don't care to hear my story or my experience, as well as those around me that also have similar experiences. So while it might sound, you know, oh, I'm not color, or I am, I'm colorblind, I don't see color might sound neutral.

It is, you are complicit in racism when you say those things. So, yeah, that's just one thing not to do

Felicia: Couldn't agree more. Like, I don't see color. Yes, you do. You see me or you or I'm invisible. Like this is, you.

Hana: Right?

Felicia: Um, but no, I think you've hit the nail on the head with most of that hammer, like, I will say, you know, I feel quite lucky. I feel in a sense, privileged because I'm a leader within Cvent.

And I think that does, if I'm being real, I think that does make me a little bit blind to some of the issues that are faced by people that aren't leaders and are black in Cvent. And what's been really cool is that we got to set up the culture, which was our, our ESG, and having the culture is a space.

It is, like you said, these spaces, you know, for a community, a group. We are a black group within Cvent, and I think when we first set up the culture, there was some like, oh, but you know, to be inclusive, we should include every. And we were like, but then how, how do we meet? How do we talk?

So, um, we ended up having, we've got the culture group for, the Black Sea Inventers, but then we also have the Culture Cvent Group, which is inclusive. It has all the allies in there, and we're able to put things out there in that group and say, here's what we're thinking about. Here's what we've been talking about. Here's what we see. Here's what we think. You should read because we don't mind some education, but we love the fact that the allies also say, here's what I watched, here's what I've read. I think, you know, this is cool for everybody. What do you think about this? You know, sometimes it's been controversial.

There's been people in the ally group asking questions and you're like, okay, that seems like an obvious one, but hey ho, it's, it's an open platform. We can answer that if we feel like we can. And sometimes the allies answer the allies questions. The best thing ever. I think that to me is where we would love to get to where the blacks inventors are not doing all the work to necessarily educate or run, you know, trainings and whatnot, but the allies are saying, Hey, I read this.

You know, brilliant. That's where you want your org to get to. But I think I mentioned it because I think Cvent does offer that space to do that. I do wish most organizations, including Cvent, could do the bottom line conversation of data. How much of the black employees being paid versus their white counterparts?

How many people are in leadership positions? I wish we could get that data, but hey, maybe we'll get there. We're way off. We'll be good.

Rachel: That's an awesome comment on allies too, because I think that the conversation is a tiptoe conversation for a lot of people and you, and we have to cross the aisle and say, it's not just say it, ask it, be educated, educate yourself. Because if we're just doing this like weird, awkward dance, like how is anybody supposed to empower each other?

Moving on. I hear that, and I  love all those sentiments. I feel like, we have so many other questions to get to here, but I wanted to touch on a question that I'm gonna just directly ask.

How can other people that maybe people that aren't people of color, like how can we shift microaggressions in the workplace that we might not?

Our microaggressions. I feel like this is something that we should address and bring back to our organizations, and maybe you address that in the culture group, Felicia, at Cvent, and I know Hana, you're, a neuro divergent black woman that's coaching executive teams. I'm sure you're having those really hard conversations with execs, like how do we shift those microaggressions and make people more self-aware of what the heck they're saying or, or doing, or acting or insert any weird activity that they're doing to make other people feel uncomfortable.

There is a level of like, I mean, I hate to repeat the education thing, but the George Floyd time was an interesting time because people were very willing to ask questions. They were very like, and to say, to think about what they had just said. Like, it was annoying cause I kind of became this like poster child for like, Felicia, what should we say?

Felicia: Was this the wrong thing? So it was like, I'm not the one, but I really valued the fact that at that time there was a lot more of the self-awareness happening of should I have said that? Was that uncomfortable? is this the right way to phrase that? So there was a lot more of self-reflection happen.

And I think it's dried up a bit, if I'm being honest. I think, you know, George Floyd time has passed, so they're like, okay, we've moved on. What's the next diversity thing that I need to jump on? Or is it sustainability now? I'll do that instead. So I think it would be great if there could be that ongoing level of self-reflection.

I would champion and call out, black professionals, let's try it and not do that thing where we are sensitive to people that genuinely are just asking. Because if we can be open as well, I think it would create a space for people to still feel that comfortable as they did around the George Floyd time to say, oh, was that the right thing to say?

Felicia: I'm really sorry. Should I have phrased that differently? I like to give that open space, but I don't know if that's cause I've been raised by white people, so who knows? But I'm an open book. I will talk to anybody and I think that makes me approachable for people to ask.

Hana: I'm the same. Yeah. And maybe it is the white parent syndrome, I don't know. But yeah, microaggressions, I mean, especially being biracial, like this is what I experience most of my life and it's a lack of a education. It really is. Like, you don't know what a microaggression is. You don't know examples of a microaggression when you comment on my hair or touch me, like, don't touch me.

Um, or ask me what I am. Or like these, these, the little slight, or even just like those backhanded comp compliments. And Felicia, you had mentioned this too, like, oh, you're so articulate, you're so well educated. Things like that. It really is the con goes back to the consideration. Would you say that to somebody who doesn't look like me?

What, in what world would it be appropriate for you to touch another white woman's hair, but you and you're gonna say, no, I would never do that, but you think it's appropriate to do that to me? And so it's that consideration of why do you feel like that was okay to do? And then reflecting on that, what was your intention?

What are you try, what's the need that you're trying to meet? Because everything, everybody has needs, every action is coming from I have a need. That's not a need that's not being met. So what does that need inside of you that is not being met? I'll tell you, it's probably your white fragility. You need to deal with that.

You know, you need to really wrap your arms around that and you have some generational trauma and curses to break for yourself because of who you are with your whiteness. You know, like there's a lot there to unpack from what your ancestors did and what ha you know, we continue to do. And so I think it's just unpacking that.

There's a really good article, one of my favorite, journalists, Ruka Toshi. She has an article called We Need to Retire the Term Microaggressions. And it's a really great article and it just talks about microaggressions as. Really, like the word is so mini, it minimizes it, right?

Because these are small things that happen, but they have such a big impact. I've carried microaggressions around with me that happened, you know, 20 years ago. I carry them for the rest of my life. They live within me until you sort of work through that trauma. So that's a great article to read, just to start understanding the impact of microaggressions.

I think that's another thing is people just don't understand, you know, what it does, the impact of, these so-called small things.

Ee're gonna have to definitely link to that, for our readers I would love to celebrate any diversity wins you have personally seen or professionally seen, either with you or a friend or a company that you've seen, and call out any examples like that.

So I mentioned an organization earlier called Fcom, and they're an association, for events and film. I'm probably just like absolutely butchering that, but that's what they do. It's where event and film kind of crosses over. And what they've done is, you know, you have all these boards, so there's the board of the association, and they recognized a while back that this.

Felicia: Look similar, it's gonna come up with similar things. They're great, they think really well, but they don't have the diversity in the board. So they created a shadow board to advise upwards to that main board. Because one of the issues that sometimes happens is someone will say, our board is not diverse.

Okay, you black women, will you join the board? We looked diverse. Excellent. And so they were like, we're not doing that. We will have a shadow board that is full pat, full of people that are maybe not as experienced as the board, but come with innovation. It's age, it's race, it is gender, it's sexuality. It's just such a mix.

And they were able to advise upwards to, we think you should be thinking like this or try and consider that, and that has unlocked so much for them. We have a podcast coming up, with, um, somebody from the board and she's just said the areas they've been able to unlock because they have diversity in the shadow board.

It's beyond what they could have done, the work they're able to do, the organizations they have now got relationships with. Just the creativity that's come out of it has changed the way they operate completely. And I wish that they would almost share their board or that that kind of concept would work across multiple associations that could then say, Hey, all the event associations, we think you should do this so that the associations can advise the corporates and all the other organizations of our shadow board thinks this is good stuff.

Let's make that cyclical and go around. So I've seen that success and I think it could be replicated so that other people could also have success without manufacturing crazy boards that suddenly look diverse without the experience.

Hana: Yeah. Uh, I actually have something similar and it does have to do with elevating more black women and women of color onto a board. And we did that at Women in Revenue, and it was exactly that. At first we're like, wait, like are we diversity board members? You know, checking the box, but we all have this amazing experience, right?

Our experience, our perspective, and we happen to be women of color. And so while, while we're on the board, we also have the power, we also have the power to make changes, to use our voice, to be collaborative, to call things out, and to have those conversations. That's definitely not the case for all boards that decide to elect new, more diverse board members.

But I think it worked really well for our, our organization just because of our mission. And it's been really impactful. We elected our first executive director, Deanna, and she's also a black woman. And for me, like that representation was so important, so important to see. So that was definitely a win, I think, blending personal and professional for me.

And also I just had a moment a couple weeks ago on the personal side where I was with my partner and we were watching the new Black Panther and, you know, telling the story of Africa. There's some problems there, but, we won't get into that today. But the joy, just the joy that I felt sitting there watching a movie and everyone is black and they are royalty and they are powerful women and they are showing their culture.

Hana: And I mean, the joy that I experienced sitting there watching that film, also knowing it's directed by a black man, like that was really powerful to me. And I know that a lot of kids, have watched Black Panther and they're like, they see that representation. It's very, very meaningful and impactful.

Felicia: I can relate so much to that because remind back to Black Panther. I'm Nigerian and they have a lot of representation from Nigeria in that film, from the cloth that they used to the accent I felt. Seen is not even the word. Like when people say, I felt seen, I understood it. I was like, I feel like they, they care.

They, it's like I'm a somebody in the world and I recently watched Woman King, similar thing. They had, John Boyega, his hand actions alone reminded me of my mother because that's the kind of it, it just had the same, he would use these particular hand actions and I was like, oh my gosh, my mom's on the screen.

And it does something for you that you can't really articulate. And I imagine, imagine if that was in the world of events, how do we bring that feeling? You're trying to change people's feelings in the world of marketing, in the world of events. You didn't just invite 'em to come in and consume content and eat and leave.

You want 'em to really feel something. So can you imagine people. I can relate. I understand. I feel seen. You guys get me. I'm with you. What does that do for your brand? Your brand is like elevated because people suddenly are like, this company is for me, not for the randoms but me. Like I think there's so much to learn.

That's why I actually love Fcon because they merged that film and event world and I think we could do a better job of.

Rachel: Wow. So we've talked a lot today about amplifying and thank you to the two of you for all of your wonderful, wonderful commentary and just educating us, I think really in order for people to amplify more or get in touch with, more of their audience and, people also need to become personally aware, including myself, how can we educate ourselves and understand or listen to other people better, something we should be asking ourselves every day, but also, keyword education.

On that, any final parting words to our listeners before we end today's podcast?

Felicia: I think for me, I say this at a lot of my workshops and when I'm doing sessions, I would say like, try to remove that guilty feeling and the blame feeling. There's a guilt and a blame thing that would stop progress. And I say that because when someone of color, a black woman, black man says, Hey, could you try and stop doing this?

There's no reason to be like, oh, did I do that? I feel guilty. Oh it wasn't me. And like, defend it. Just look into it. And that's how you start the education process. And on the, on the black woman, black man's side, it's not a blame game. It's not your fault, my fault. Therefore we just need to try and work together.

So that would be my thing of like, that's how you get open dialogue. That's how you ask and answer questions. That's how we partner that guilt blame back and forth. Let's just park it. Just ask the questions. I will answer if no one else will.

You know, my word that I've said a few times is consideration, right? Just take the time. Take the time, slow down. Consider, look at the bigger picture and try to look at like, this is what we do in coaching. Look at it out here, instead of keeping it in here, bring it out here so you can look at it from all different angles so you are not subject to so much.

Hana: You know, we are subject to so much when we keep it in here, when we can remove ourselves from that and see the whole thing, see the object for what it is and all of the different elements around it. You can change your life. Like you can develop in a way that you have not even thought was possible. So take the time to consider and take the time to be objective about things and really just watch, be a watcher, be a watcher so you can move in a way that aligns with where this world should go and needs to.

Rachel: Wow. Thank you both so much for joining today's podcast. To our listeners out there, we hope you enjoyed our chat. I wish we could have kept it going for longer because I personally have found some inspiration, learned a lot. I think we can all do our part. To keep our own conversations going regardless of background or color, but hone in on, keeping your mind open like Hana and Felicia suggested, and educate yourself.

Because that's really the only place that we can start to do that. My lovely, guest speakers have given me many links of ways that you can get involved or get educated or help amplify, bring these back to your own marketing and events programs, and just keep that dialogue going and keep that top of mind as stewards of your own programs, and inclusive marketing.

So thank you both again for joining today's Great Events podcast. To our listeners, if you have any topics you'd like to see, next DM us or send us a greatevents@cvent.com.

I'm Rachel. Thanks for joining us on today's Great Events podcast.