AEO - Association of event organisers

Diversity & Inclusion Hub: Race and Your Workplace



Every person, regardless of ethnicity or background, should be able to fulfil their potential at work. Employers who take action to support equal progression and participation in the workplace, across ethnicities, will grow their talent pool and address skill shortages in the process.

In the UK, too many individuals from an ethnic minority background still face discrimination and disadvantage when trying to get into and progress at work compared with their white British peers.

According to the McGregor-Smith Review (2017), the employment rate for black and minority ethnic (BME) groups is only 62.8% compared with an employment rate for White workers of 75.6%. This gap is even worse for some ethnic groups; for instance, the employment rate for those from a Pakistani or Bangladeshi background is only 54.9%.

Overall, about 1 in 8 of the working age population are from an ethnic minority background, yet these individuals make up only 10% of the workforce and hold only 6% of top management positions. The Parker Review (2016) of the ethnicity of UK boards found that only 85 of the 1,050 director positions in the FTSE 100 are held by directors of colour.

Addressing this issue is not just about tackling discrimination; it is also about boosting business performance. It is estimated the economy stands to gain an additional £24 billion if there was full representation and progression across ethnicities in the workplace.

All resources below have been recommended by AEO, AEV, and ESSA members. If you would like to submit a resource for consideration on Race And Your Workplace, including articles, videos, books, and/or films, please send it to us by clicking the button below. 

Submit a resource here

Tips for Being a Diverse Employer

Raphael Sofoluke

Events are still considered the most important marketing tool for a company. As we discuss and champion the importance of what we bring to the economy, we must acknowledge the pivotal role we play in our society. As a body that represents companies that conceive, create, develop or manage trade and consumer events, the AEO, AEV and ESSA are well positioned to make a difference to society, and lead the way for Diversity and Inclusion within the events industry.

Read the article here

Breaking the silence on race in the events industry

Meera Somji

Does speaking about race make you feel nervous? Do you get scared that you might say the wrong thing? 

Most likely, yes. Having interviewed almost twenty event professionals who are senior, junior, male, female, black, white, brown, South Asian, East Asian, mixed-race, in different parts of the UK, US, and in Dubai. The first thing that I learned is that it takes a bit of guts for anyone to start talking about race in the workplace. 

Read the article here

High-Performing Teams Need Psychological Safety. Here’s How to Create It

Laura Delizonna

The highest-performing teams have one thing in common: psychological safety — the belief that you won’t be punished when you make a mistake. Studies show that psychological safety allows for moderate risk-taking, speaking your mind, creativity, and sticking your neck out without fear of having it cut off — just the types of behaviour that lead to market breakthroughs

Read the article here

Do Your Employees Know Why You Believe in Diversity?

Ruchika Tulshyan

When leaders communicate why they believe in diversity, align anti-bias initiatives with the organization’s strategic priorities, and do the tough work of identifying and fixing barriers within their organization, they’re more likely to get buy-in from a wide range of internal and external stakeholders.

Read the article here

The Colour of  Power

Green Park

Just 52 out of 1099 of the most powerful jobs in the country held by ethnic minority individuals. Despite public commitments from government, public bodies and businesses to increase diversity at leadership levels, progress has stalled over the last three years, according to the latest research from executive search and diversity consultancy Green Park.

Read the case study here

How to Promote Racial Equity in the Workplace

Robert Livingstone

Many White people deny the existence of racism against people of colour because they assume that racism is defined by deliberate actions motivated by malice and hatred. However, racism can occur without conscious awareness or intent. When defined simply as differential evaluation or treatment based solely on race, regardless of intent, racism occurs far more frequently than most White people suspect.

Read the article here

The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business

Erin Meyer

Whether you work in a home office or abroad, business success in our ever more globalized and virtual world requires the skills to navigate through cultural differences and decode cultures foreign to your own. Renowned expert Erin Meyer is your guide through this subtle, sometimes treacherous terrain where people from starkly different backgrounds are expected to work harmoniously together.

Buy it here

Courageous Conversations About Race: A Field Guide for Achieving Equity in Schools

Glenn E. Singleton

Create a systemwide plan for transforming the district office, schools, and classrooms into places that truly support ALL students achieving their highest levels! This updated edition of the bestseller continues to explain the need for candid, courageous conversations about race to understand why achievement inequality persists, and learn how to develop a curriculum that promotes true educational equity and excellence.

Buy it here


Reed Exhibitions Announces Ron Walden as Executive Sponsor for Race

Reed Exhibitions

Black Lives Matter. We stand in solidarity with our Black and ethnic minority employees, customers, and partners, and we are committed to helping build a company and a world where everyone can live equitably, with dignity and free from fear.

Read the case study here

Q&A with Ron Walden, Executive Sponsor for Race

Reed Exhibitions

Ron Walden, US Group Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Activation, shares his thoughts on his recent appointment as Reed Exhibitions’ first Executive Sponsor for Race, and his vision for a more racially equal organisation.

Read the case study here

How To Make Your Workplace And Events More Inclusive

Hire Space

On Wednesday 28th October, the Hire Space Virtual Team kicked off Part 1 of EventLAB 2020 Online. This year marked the first time this event was held virtually and focused on Sustainability, Workplace Culture & Leadership. We welcomed some incredible speakers from across the industry to share their expert knowledge and advice across a range of discussions.

Read the case study here

Diversity & Inclusion in Advanced Therapies

Phacilitate Exchange

The purpose of this eBook is to not only celebrate the companies leading the way, but to inspire others on how they can take steps towards creating a more inclusive culture.

Read the case study here

Small Axe: Red, White and Blue (available until October 2021)


After seeing his father assaulted by police officers, a young black man is driven to join the force, with hopes of changing racist attitudes from within. He soon finds himself facing both his father's disapproval and racism in the ranks.

Watch here

Understanding Racism Within and Outside the Workplace


Like “second hand smoke” our research reveals that the harmful repercussions of racism extend well beyond the target to impact third-party bystanders in the workplace.

Watch here

Building anti-racist and compassionate workplaces


Black HR professionals share their lived experiences and talk about the change that is needed to combat workplace racism.

Watch here

Accelerating racial equality within the hospitality, food and drink sectors

Diversity Ally, The Podcast

In this episode, Diversity Ally speak about the importance of bridging the gap between education and getting into the workplace, as a key strategy to address the broken pipeline, and how using quantifiable measures is the key to identifying that you're moving towards your D&I goal.

Listen Here

How Do We Tackle Racial Diversity In The Events Industry?

Diversity Ally, The Podcast

Do senior level execs really care about Diversity and Inclusion? Or Is it just lip service? This episode features the founders of Event First Steps to discuss the results of the global survey on tackling racial diversity in the events industry in collaboration with C&IT.

Listen Here

Brand Purpose and Alignment When Tackling Racial Inequality (With Ryan Curtis-Johnson)

Diversity Ally, The Podcast

"2020 is not all about COVID - it's about listening to other people's voices instead and taking the power to change, in your own hands." Ryan Curtis-Johnson, Head of PR & Marketing at DRPG, talks about the importance of brand values and purpose being aligned with your diversity message.

Listen Here

  • "Broadway Events joined the AEO on the Enterprise Membership. We’ve already taken advantage of the many benefits including the excellent FaceTime Masterclasses and training guides for exhibitors."
    Emma Barrett
    Broadway Events
  • "We are a member of the AEO because it is a proactive association for the events industry. As an organiser it provides us with high value ideas, networking, guidance and information."
    David Harrison
    PPMA Group
  • "This year, the association has led working groups to address industry issues and put on some amazing events full of insightful content for both organisers and, through the AEOs FaceTime initiative, exhibitors. In addition, the AEO has represented the industry at a Governmental level to raise awareness of the importance of events to the UK economy."
    Paul Byrom
    Upper Street Events
  • "I genuinely believe that if you’re involved in organising events you should become a member of the AEO."
    Simon Kimble
    Clarion Events
  • "Our membership of the AEO represents real and tangible value for UBM - it provides fantastic networking opportunities, practical training for our team as well as valuable insight into the state of our industry."
    Simon Parker
    Informa Markets
  • "As an Association business, we appreciate the excellent work the secretariat of the AEO do for our community. From the events side of our business, the AEO provides an excellent return on investment, providing thought leadership, fantastic networking, brilliant awards, excellent research and FaceTime, a valuable tool to tell our markets why exhibitions and events should be an essential part of the marketing mix."
    Neil Felton
  • "AEO’s networking and member meetings are valuable for individuals at all levels within our organisation. The promotion of our sector to the outside world, to government, authorities and business at large is another vital aspect of the AEO’s purpose for members, many of whom, like my company, work on events throughout the world."
    Stephen Brooks
    Mack Brooks Exhibitions
  • “Knowledge is power and the AEO dinners are certainly powerful, there is always a wealth of knowledge at the table. Insightful presentations make for a constructive and extremely social way to learn from the experts who’ve done it before. I attended the Japanese evening and gained really valuable insight about the culture and how best to communicate with a local audience.”
    John Whitaker
    Vice President Marketing, Data & Digital , dmg events
  • "We have the opportunity to contribute positively to the industry as well as gaining valuable insight and advice. There’s no need to spend valuable time and money reinventing the wheel when you have so many experienced professionals in AEO membership to learn from”
    Emma Cartmell
    CHS Group
  • "JOINING THE AEO HAS BEEN FANTASTIC! Being able to gift our customers with free places at the FaceTime masterclasses, learn alongside industry peers and seek advice to common challenges is invaluable”
    Sharon Azam
    GovNet Communications
  • I just wanted to send my most sincere thanks for everything that you and the AEO team are doing to help navigate the events industry through the pandemic. The working groups and communication from the AEO have been excellent and I’m really appreciative of being part of such a wonderful organisation.
    Simon Burns
    ICHF Events
  • I think what the AEO has been doing during this tough time has been exceptional.
    Greg Cherry
    QD Events LTD
  • It is so useful to hear from your peers at this time. Please pass my thanks to Ruth and the BTIG panel
    Dan Assor
    CloserStill Media
  • Just wanted to thank you and Ruth this morning for the Zoom meeting - it was really interesting to hear how things are moving along in the virtual/hybrid meeting/exhibitions. All very new to me, so a lot to digest.
    Maureen Wright
    Optic UK
  • The session this morning was fantastic. We are right in the midst of this and the information was so useful. We can apply it immediately
    Claire Adams
  • The AEO provides an opportunity to make a difference, to work with other companies for the good of the industry as a whole, but beyond that, it provides it’s members with valuable insight and tangible benefits to grow your business, upskill and engage your teams. For those reasons, our membership is in indelible ink on the each annual budget. In short, if you aren’t a member, you are missing out.
    Ed Tranter
    73 Media




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