When you are organising an event, meeting or function, equality plays a big part of the planning, even though you may not think about it.
This may seem complex, but by understanding who your audience is likely to be, you can plan your meeting or event in a way that attracts the widest audience and ensures that everyone gets the maximum benefit from the day.
Know your audience
In relation to equality knowing your audience will help you plan the content and structure of the event/meeting more effectively, so that everyone will get the most out of it. You can capture any specific needs on your application for attendance form.
Venues for events should be accessible. In this context accessible doesn’t just mean accessible for a wheelchair user or people with limited mobility, but also considers accessibility in relation to sensory impairment (sight or hearing difficulties) and in terms of technical support for assistive technology (e.g. a computer event). In addition think about the location in relation to public transport - some people, including those with a lower income, who have restricted mobility or a disability may rely on public transport.
Time of event
Where are the audience travelling from? If from across the country you need to factor in travel times. Time is also relevant in relation to anyone with caring responsibilities, whether related to children, older family members or for a friend of family member with a disability. For those reasons, make the start time 10am at the earliest and have a reasonable finish time.
Remember that people will have different dietary requirements for different reasons - they may be for religious or health reasons, or simply for personal preference. If catering, the easiest thing to do is ask in the registration process if anyone has any dietary requirements. Where there is no registration, it is best to have a variety of foods, including Halal and vegetarian food, as well as some gluten free. Where requests for specific dietary needs are identified, ensure that you can meet them.
An event that is likely to attract a diverse audience should have support for audience understanding. Are the presentations clear? Is there a need for language translators, including British Sign Language (BSL) translation? Are there note takers required for those hearing impaired who don’t use BSL or are there hearing loops in place? Have the speakers been sufficiently briefed to understand the audience needs? Getting these points right means any audience will get the message.
Date of the event
Depending on the nature of the event, i.e. a community event, a midweek day may not suit. Similarly a weekend date may have implications for others. In addition, holding meetings or unrelated events on religious festival days or days of observance will unintentionally exclude people from the audience. Child care and other care support might also be difficult for some, in particular women, who are still largely the carers for older parents and for children. Can you consider a crèche for an event? Think of the audience, it may be worthwhile.
Something worth mentioning is post event networking. If there is an expectation for the audience to network following the event, then think about finish times and how that networking is to happen. If it is in the pub over drinks, that may not suit those who adhere to particular requirements for abstinence for religious or other reasons. Similarly, networking after the event may impact on caring responsibilities or detriment those relying on public transport, particularly if they have far to travel.
More general events advice
The Public Engagement and Major Events team have developed internal guidance for events that takes you beyond the equality considerations.
Contact the authors of the events guide at email@example.com.