The formation of the National Events Council

Andrew Roby

The formation of the National Events Council was sparked by the death of George Floyd, Rashard Brooks, and so many others who have died at the hands of those sworn to protect us. Certainly, none of these victims directly connect themselves to the event industry, but what they now represent does.

For generations, America has grown to perfect the art of systematic racism. So much that it demonizes Black and Brown people as easy as breathing comes to many of us. 

When I first started my career planning events, I did what many people do today. Seek out a tribe by networking with like-minded people. People who are in places where you desire to be in. Every effort made came with resistance. Eyes looked down on me as if I was invading space that the tone of my skin wasn’t allowed to enter. Who is this Black man trying to win over my clients? Certainly not I, young, inexperienced, and far from anyone’s competition.

The harder I tried to build my tribe of diverse experts and mentors, the more I was pushed back into “my place”. A place where only Black and Brown People were allowed to service the event industry. As royal as we are, the event industry has a way of showing Black and Brown People how less than others see us.

It’s not always overt. The event industry has a way of keeping white-owned businesses in a position to keep landing large clients while limiting Black and Brown business owners from ever seeing such contracts. Given such experiences, I was not surprised by recent events in the U.S.

The foundation of our country has been shaken and rocked to its core over the death of BIPOC men and women who didn’t deserve to become a hashtag. For those of us privy to still being alive, we live with a much different nightmare. As days progressed each and every one of these deaths began to showcase just how deep racism is within the United States. The National Events Council took upon itself to be the voice of BIPOC event professionals who are exhausted by how racism plagues the event industry. More frightening are corporations who primarily hire white-owned event companies and are oblivious to the harm they inflict each time they sign a contract awarded to the same people time and time again. 

The National Events Council’s goal is to eradicate race as a condition of whether or not we deserve to be in a room. This is one of the most prevalent and common mindsets that keep clients from experiencing what a diverse workforce can do. This isn’t new. Certainly far from unheard of. The only difference between now and then, is the world is out of work and has more time to see the light.

The last few months have been a crash course into what business owners and gig workers have been facing for decades. Yes, the spotlight has been adjusted to shine a brighter light. Many corporations stand in support of Black Lives Matter, yet their track records speak differently. Corporations have continued to stop short of putting in the work to hire a diverse workforce previous to the injustice we see today. Their posture has swept race, equality, and equity back under the table as the noise subsides and America finds something new to talk about.

The National Events Council will stand as a reminder that event professionals cannot and will not be sidelined. Our livelihoods will not be claimed by corporations who deem us as a PR stunt. For this very reason, the National Events Council has created two systems to keep parity at the front of the discussion. We will create an Event Index Score that rates corporations who host multiple events yet fail to hire BIPOC event professionals. We have also created the 20% Pledge that challenges corporations to hire 20% or more BIPOC event professionals for their meetings and events.

Corporations, publications, and event professionals must reexamine their roles in perpetuating inequalities in hiring BIPOC event professionals and gig workers along with giving life to toxic practices that allow discrimination to live on.

There is a lot of performative allyship taking root right now. Event and Wedding publications have flooded Instagram and Facebook with Black, Asian, LatinX couples, and business owners. Panel discussions with predominately BIPOC members reaching thousands of event professionals are occurring. People are now voicing their support of a BIPOC workforce, but even so, this is not enough.

Corporate leaders are investing hundreds of millions of dollars along with business resources to now aid the Black community. Polls show a large majority of Americans support the protests. The public sees policing and racial equity differently than they did when an unarmed man by the name of Michael Brown was gun downed in Ferguson in 2014. Walmart pledged to stop locking up “multicultural” hair and beauty products in display cases.

All great signs of support, but the type of support that makes a difference is found in each and every system that has been thriving for centuries. We must upend systems of economic disparity that keeps more than 95% of black-owned businesses operating with no paid employee. Similarly troubling are Latino-owned businesses who tend to have lower average sales and hire fewer employees than white-owned businesses with the disparities widening each year. For this, the National Events Council has created a diversity and inclusion committee that aims to help organizations, publications, and events get to the root of why BIPOC companies are not equality thriving like their white counterparts.

The National Event Council leads the way to end racial inequality within the event industry and all supporting elements by accelerating awareness of qualified BIPOC Business Owners, national research, and education increasing direct spending within BIPOC business. The result is having the council close the racial wealth gap by creating opportunities for BIPOC event professionals and gig workers to receive lucrative opportunities dominated by white event professionals.

We cannot do this alone. We need the support of trailblazers to ensure we reach our goals. If you want to be a part of this revolution, we ask you to join us by visiting our website at www.nationaleventscouncil.com. There you can learn more about our council members and how you can support this movement.

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