And social media?
Lewis: Social media has become a huge influencer, and, many times, for the worse. People tend to hide behind social media to say things they would never say to a mass audience in person.
Wilson: People do not take the time to think about what they post for potentially millions to view and develop opinions. It sets in motion opportunities for cowards to hide behind a computer and stir up all kinds of trouble. Judging a whole race of people because of what was posted on social media is not conducive to pulling all together.
De Rozario: It’s a double-edged sword. Social media brings the world together; it creates more awareness and knowledge of incidents happening away from us. If an injustice occurs on an airplane or in another country, we get the news almost instantaneously. But since our social network is likely made up of people who think like us, we are possibly exposed to a limited perspective, and this perpetuates living in our bubbles.
Rutherford: Social media has the potential to be an equalizing force. You can’t deny its impact. A vast majority of people gets their news from Twitter. People once believed everything they saw on TV was true; now many people feel the same way about the internet. We all must improve our social media literacy, and be adept at deciphering what we see on social media as fact or fiction.
Williams: Recently, we’ve seen many contentious issues dominate our news sources. We pit people with different views and beliefs against each other instead of encouraging meaningful and constructive conversation. This is especially prevalent on social media, where there’s so much information readily available only in snippets, causing people to make snap judgments. In these instances, it’s up to us as a society to do our research and get the entire context of a story before we form an opinion.
How do all of these factors influence the racial and cultural makeup and business of meetings today?
Lewis: Diversity must come from the heart and be done because it’s the right thing to do. It must come from a genuine desire for inclusiveness and not to increase profits.
Williams: We’re already seeing a younger generation that’s more open and accepting than any generation of the past has been. As these young adults begin their professional lives and work up to leadership positions, the industry should automatically become more inclusive.
Rutherford: We have to make a compelling case for the attendee to participate. One way we address this is by providing content and messaging that reinforces the importance of diversity in our society, at large and in our industry in particular. It just makes sense.