Nalan Emre is chief operating officer of the IMEX Group, which supports inclusion and diversity inside the company and at its events, and incorporates this approach into education and event design at IMEX America and IMEX Frankfurt, two large meetings-industry exhibitions.
How does IMEX approach inclusion and diversity?
Emre: We have a 14-member Diversity and Inclusion Squad from different departments across the company. They have launched an inclusive language guide for internal use and work with our team to ensure the IMEX office and IMEX events are as inclusive as possible. Together we keep ourselves accountable and hold each other to a high standard. We also have a company diversity policy as well as a code of conduct for staff and delegates, which is designed to ensure our shows remain a friendly and open environment for all, and one that’s harassment-free.
How does this impact your events?
Emre: We evolve our shows each year and introduce new elements. For example, at IMEX America 2019, we have a gender-neutral bathroom, and staff members have their pronouns on badges.
We procure educational speakers who represent a wide spectrum of our global society and have a dedicated diversity track with 19 sessions at IMEX America 2019, including a joint session with MPI and our Senior Community Engagement Manager Suzanne Mulligan, who will discuss how IMEX is working to champion diversity and inclusion.
How do you handle dietary needs at your conferences?
Emre: We think about our dietary restrictions from our first tasting at the venue. During the RSVP/registration process our guests are asked for their dietary requirements, and we cater to them. For example, we will order in kosher meals because they can’t always be made on the premises. We have also chosen not to serve nuts or shellfish, and we work with the venues to ensure our produce is as local and sustainable as possible.
For this year’s IMEX America, we will serve Rainforest Alliance Certified regular coffee and Fair Trade certified decaf. We are debuting Impossible Burgers and Beyond Meat Brats (sausages) and offering gluten-free pizza crust. We also sourced beef from the Harris Ranch in the sustainable farming region of Coalinga, Calif., and sustainable flour from Bon Breads in Nevada.
How do you support different groups at IMEX?
Emre: IMEX America is a founding partner of She Means Business, a conference celebrating the role of women in business and events. We host the winners of Association for Women in Events Hall of Fame at IMEX America, and we’re supporting AWE’s Celebration of Women in Events Pink Hour (powered by Freeman) at the show.