The Eventex Awards 2024 winners are here — see the list
February 21, 2024

Eventex events industry trends: Inclusivity in events

with Stefano Ferri, owner of Stefano Ferri Communication & Marketing 

The purpose of events has always been to bring people together. Artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and other technologies have come to dominate the industry agenda, and yet, they are a means, more than anything else, rather than the goal. At the core of events — offline, as well as online — remains the gathering of people. What is changing, however, is the level of inclusivity, one of the trends identified in The Eventex 2024 Events Industry Trends Report. And while the events industry has sometimes been slow on the uptake of new tech, when it comes to inclusion, it is set to lead the way. 

What an inclusive event looks like 

So, let’s take an in-depth look at inclusive events and how to organize them to make attendees feel as welcome as possible, regardless of their background.

Gender-neutral colors in both setup and signals

The setup provides the backdrop of your event, influencing the overall feel and atmosphere. So, to make sure you set an inclusive tone for your event, take special care with colors. 

While a lot goes into choosing the right color palette for an event (type and theme of the event, audience, season, venue, etc.), betting on gender-neutral colors will make sure all gender groups attending your event feel included. If you do need to use colors that are associated with one gender or another, do it in a way that does not reinforce stereotypes. 

Gender-neutral language in all event communication    

While colors make for a subtle impact on the event atmosphere, language is an even more powerful tool and can even be harmful if not properly utilized. To sidestep that risk, an inclusive event should use gender-neutral language in all forms of communication, including: 

  • Invitations — keeping invitations gender-neutral, including pronouns and honorifics (for example, including Mx in addition to Ms, Mr, and Mrs);  
  • Registration forms and surveys — in addition to having the ‘male’ and ‘female’ options, any forms should also feature other choices such as ‘non-binary’ or ‘I’d rather not say’; 
  • Speeches — using gender-neutral language when addressing the audience; 
  • Signage — using inclusive signage, for example for restrooms. 

Gender-neutral dress code 

Continuing with gender inclusivity, when an event has a specific dress code, to ensure that no one feels excluded, the instructions should be limited to “formal” or “casual” as required. Gender-inclusive dress code instructions should apply to anyone and everyone, rather than place burdens on anyone on how to dress based on their gender. 

Access for people with disabilities 

In the context of people with disability, inclusivity means access: 

  • Parking and entry — parking spots for people with disabilities, located as close to the venue entrance as possible, along with ramps, and where possible, special fast-track lines; 
  • Seating and restrooms — reserved accessibility seating, special restrooms, and chairs to accommodate all body types; 
  • Accessibility of content — make sure any lectures and speeches also feature live captioning, audio descriptions, or sign language. 

Means of transportation for people with disabilities 

In some cases, even attending the event could be a problem, meaning that planning special shuttle transportation for people with disabilities will add an extra layer of inclusivity and convenience to the event. 

Special assistance all over the venue 

Having designated staff to provide assistance to people with disabilities is another way to make your event more inclusive. Naturally, the staff should be well acquainted with the venue and all points with disability access, such as exits and entrances, elevators, restrooms, etc. 

Accommodating all special needs 

In addition to making an event accessible to people with disabilities, inclusivity also covers other special needs. Let’s take a look at some other considerations that seem to be less common but would go a long way to making an event more inclusive: 

  • Special quiet rooms for neurodivergent individuals; 
  • Dedicated spaces for service animals; 
  • Limiting the use of strobe lights and flashing or super loud content, and making sure attendees are warned of any such content in advance.  

Event team inclusivity 

Event inclusivity also covers the team behind said event. That means that the staff organizing the event (within the agency as well as any external contractors, freelancers, etc.) should be selected on the basis of their competence, and not on gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, aesthetic characteristics, or origin. This approach has the added benefit of focusing on the most qualified employees who are ultimately bound to do a better job. 

Event destination inclusivity 

A truly inclusive event takes into account its destination in terms of local laws, customs, etc. As such, it should avoid locations with discriminatory laws or widespread practices in place, which could potentially not only impact the attendee experience but hinder the organization of the event altogether. 

Welcoming any guest  

An inclusive event welcomes any guest whose aim is just to come and enjoy it. This means that their event experience should not be negatively impacted by their looks, the color of their skin, their origin, the typology of their dresses, and any other exterior element.

At the end of the day 

Organizing a truly inclusive event can be a challenge for the events industry, however, the result is worth the effort. An inclusive event not only enlarges the attendance base (and by implication is good for an agency’s bottom line) but has the very purpose of events at its core — bringing people together and making them feel welcome. 

For more industry insight, check out The Eventex 2024 Events Industry Trends Report

Enter the World's #1 Awards for Events and Experience Marketing

Early registration for Eventex Awards 2025 is now open.