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Taking DEI and Sustainability at Events to the Next Level

VisitScotland’s Rory Archibald has launched an advocacy organization for the business-events industry focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as environmental issues.

Among the weighty challenges for today’s meeting professionals are diversity, equity, and inclusion issues (e.g. Are a full range of perspectives represented? Can everyone participate who wants to?) as well as adopting sustainable practices that not only reduce the carbon footprint of a meeting but also consider the broader implications of the event on the destination. 

One Scotsman has just launched an organization with all these issues in his sights.

Rory Archibald, (below) the Edinburgh-based head of associations, sectors, and marketing for VisitScotland’s Business Events department, believes the time is right for New Intent, a DEI and environmental advocacy organization he’s created for the business-events industry. 

1660675575687.jpegArchibald says he’s frustrated with the event industry’s rhetoric but inaction around DEI, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and climate change. The events industry has “not put what it preaches into action,” he says. His vision for New Intent is to bring event strategists, destinations, and suppliers together to “share best practice, put standards in place, and demand action from industry-leading organizations.” He would like to see business events become “an industry other [industries] can aspire to be.”

Archibald plans to maintain his position at VisitScotland, where his work over the past six and a half years has influenced his thinking.  “When I started, we were very much a department that promoted Scotland through telling stories of our culture, landscapes, and history. There was a missing link, and the real power of business events wasn’t being harnessed. Through research, education, and passion, I turned this around to promoting Scotland as a destination that puts people and planet first, and this is what led me to create New Intent,” he says.

The New Intent website offers speakers (at this early juncture, mostly Archibald), consultant services, and information about partnerships and membership. “I believe that consultancy, collaboration, and making DEI a main-stage speaking opportunity are all required to advance social transformation,” Archibald says.

Business-event professionals can join New Intent for free through 2023. Archibald expects to provide research based “on the needs of members/partners and current global issues.” Subjects he is interested in researching including the core challenges around DEI in the meetings industry and “education and funding required/missing to make the meetings industry truly aligned to DEI.” 

Diversity, equity, and inclusion need to be a priority for the events industry, Archibald says, because “the industry has the potential to drive DEI in society; that is the power of meeting face to face.

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