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The Time is Now

Black in Events

by Keneisha Williams

For 10 years I have had the opportunity to design and execute nearly every type of event within and outside of Canada, rub shoulders with the likes of Masai Ujiri, and see my work have a lasting impression on audiences.

But as much as I love the industry, there are times when I don’t feel fully included. Perhaps a metaphor will help explain my feelings: Imagine walking to your home—the place you passionately love and spend hard- earned money on—only to step inside and not feel welcome or valued for your contributions. Upon entering, you realize you can access some of the amenities—such as a plate of food— but you are not given the same serving as others. The dinner table is crowded with people who have also contributed to the home but not many of them look like you. You attempt to speak but the space between you and everyone at the table prevents you from being heard or barely seen. You are overcome with grief and loneliness.

In early 2020, I found myself engaging in the Event Planners Talk weekly chat on Twitter. Followers were asked to discuss the changes they would like to see in the industry. That is when I met Ashanti Bentil-Dhul, a fellow event professional from the UK. We instantly connected by agreeing on wanting to see more representation of black event professionals. Often times black professionals are outnumbered in speaker opportunities, or often rarely seen working in the corporate space—these were some of the issues we wanted to address. From that moment we knew we had to do more and that is where Black in Events began to take form.

A few months later, the murder of George Floyd would shake the world—and the event industry. It was time to bear truth that an industry known for human connection was lacking the ability to connect to its underrepresented voices. This is when Ashanti and I accelerated our mission to bring awareness and opportunities to black event professionals.

Over the past four months we have spoken to countless event colleagues (not only black) who expressed the same concerns about the lack of diversity and inclusion in the industry—from event award shows and association boards to job roles, among many other areas. Many black event professionals have come forward urging for change. It is time to reimagine the industry.

Black in Events is:

  1. A membership-based platform for black professionals in the industry to network and meet other black professionals, gain access to job opportunities, training, newsletters, and exclusives from our partners.
  2. A membership-based platform for businesses and organizations within and outside of the events industry who are looking to support the mission, post job opportunities, be part of our workshops and elevate our network.
  3. A membership-based platform for supporters who are not of the black community but would like to support it, receive newsletter updates on initiatives within our network and latest research findings on diversity and inclusion.

Journey with us to reimagine our industry, our home. To be part of the Black in Events network as an individual, organization, supporter or industry partner, please reach out to us.

Keneisha Williams is a Toronto-based professional who has worked in both the corporate and not-for-profit industries.

Learn more: Twitter @BlackinEvents | Instagram @blackinevents | blackinevents@gmail.com

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