Stephen Morton-Prior, AIEA Member from Clearwater Events shares a view on destination selection, and the role that ethics play in the decision making process.
As Event Managers, I believe we have a moral obligation to select destinations that embrace equal human rights and that offer equality based on race, gender, sexuality and religion. I can be sure that with each event I do, there will be a cross section of different demographics within the delegation and I feel it’s my responsibility to ensure that these demographics are not jeopardised whilst on site.
It is so sad that in 2018 there are many popular event destinations where laws and opinions go against the very doctrine of human rights yet hide behind glossy facades. As Event Managers, we may feel comfortable visiting such destinations. Personally, I find it uncomfortable. I believe that we should promote destinations that embrace the values and beliefs of equality, rather than putting delegates in destinations where their lifestyle, beliefs, gender or sexuality could be illegal or suppressed.
The world is changing. The new US President is in office and he sends shudders down my spine. His executive orders that stopped seven countries from travelling to the US, albeit temporarily, had far reaching consequences and adds to my moral compass dilemma.
One of my first questions in planning an event will now be, ‘Where do your delegates come from? What are their passports?’ With Trump in power, anything is possible! Where will these restrictions end? We are on a slippery slope where history could easily repeat itself. Once we restrict and refuse based on fear and xenophobia, what comes next?
Now more then ever, I believe we should use a moral compass checklist to review the safety for delegates before submitting an event proposal. We may think we do this already but a little bit of research could truly help to avoid putting delegates at risk.
- What are the demographics of your delegation? You may not get complete accuracy but an overview of age, gender and nationalities is important (you can assume you will have LGBTQ delegates). For example, sending an LGBTQ event to a destination where homosexuality is illegal isn’t a good move……. Irrespective of the palm trees and beaches!
- Based on your delegate demographics, it’s time to research the destinations. This includes:
- Checking the Foreign Office website. Are there any travel warnings?
- Check Amnesty International’s website. This website will help you search by country, identifying possible issues that may affect delegates. For example, is being gay illegal or do woman have reduced rights? https://www.amnesty.org/en/)
- Where will delegates be going? Will they be staying in a city or travelling outside – if so what safety issues need to be considered?
- Are there any passport restrictions? What nationalities are unable to travel?
- Check departure access points based on possible delegate locations. Which airlines travel to the destination? Are the flight times suitable to allow delegates to safely travel to and from the airport? If a flight arrives home at midnight, will delegates have a safe way of travelling home?
- Once you have compiled your findings, think – Is this a destination that delegates will feel safe in, be considered legal in and if something does go wrong, what are the ramifications?
- Check that your guests know the local customs, laws and rules. By making everyone aware of local requirements, we can all mitigate negative situations
It may well seem like a lot to review, but this checklist will help ensure that you plan responsible events that embrace equality and ensure the safety of all of your delegates.