Case study: Bringing diversity and inclusion initiatives to IMEX Frankfurt

3 mins

How IMEX embraced diversity and inclusion at IMEX Frankfurt

IMEX’s EDI Working Group was established in the autumn of 2018. This cross-departmental team strives to make the IMEX office and our trade shows as inclusive as possible. The EDI Working Group always aims high with a list of long and short-term goals to measure our success against.

The IMEX Group’s organizing principle is “the family table”. A place where everyone is welcome to bring their true selves to the conversation. While this concept is well established in our office, we want it to be reflected in our shows too. Diversity and inclusion are a top priority for us, but there’s always more work to be done.

Five years ago, our goals were:

Creating a code of conduct

We implemented a code of conduct as it’s important to be clear on the behavior we expect from everyone who attends our shows. Whether they’re attendees, speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, or staff. We want everyone at our shows to feel safe and included. It’s paramount that people attending IMEX shows know that certain behaviors aren’t acceptable. And there are consequences to inappropriate conduct. The challenge was to make our attendees aware of the code of conduct. We provide a link to the code in our ‘badge emails’, as these reach all attendee types before the show. We also showcase it on posters around the exhibition halls in high-traffic areas.

Having gender-neutral bathrooms

We wanted to create safe spaces for attendees who don’t identify with the terms “male or female”. At our shows, we strive to have the choice to use a gender-neutral bathroom using signage such as “Please use the toilet of the gender you identify with”.

EDI bathroom sign

Representing the diversity of the show in our visual marketing

IMEX is an incredibly diverse show. And we want our marketing to reflect that. Unconscious bias can often be blamed for images that aren't representative of a diverse audience. One goal was for the whole company to receive unconscious bias training which we’ve now achieved. This training helps the whole team recognize their biases and empowers them to take steps to reduce the likelihood that bias will impact decisions. To make sure we have diversity in our marketing material, it’s important to familiarize our external team with the IMEX brand. We give detailed briefs to our photographers each day of the show to ensure accurate representation of our attendees that we can use all year round.

Developing an inclusive language guide

Language is constantly evolving. Not everyone is up to date with terms that can cause offense or unknowingly create a non-inclusive environment. To make sure our staff are equipped with the knowledge they need we developed an inclusive language guide. This is a working document that’s reviewed once a year to ensure the terms listed are still appropriate. This guide is given to our permanent staff and anyone who may encounter attendees at the show, such as our event support staff.

Inclusive language guide
Download now: the IMEX Inclusive Language Guide

The EDI Working Group is always working behind the scenes to make IMEX a more inclusive space

In between our shows, we’re working on making sure the IMEX office is as inclusive as it can be. One of our focuses for 2024 is our recruitment practices. Our goal is to review all our recruitment, and all internal, policies. The Working Group aims to relaunch these to the company post-review.

Fast forward five years, our EDI Working Group work has expanded to focus on accessibility at our shows. On the IMEX Frankfurt website we now have a page on accessibility. Accessibility at IMEX details the how, where, and what of accessibility - and how to obtain further assistance if required. From wheelchair access to sensory information for neurodiverse attendees, we're always looking for ways to make our shows more accessible.

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About the author

Charley Murfitt is IMEX's Content Producer. She is a proud advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion, sustainability and the circular economy.

Charley Murfitt

Content Producer