A group of black executives working in the UK events industry has launched its own trade body, the Association of Black Event Professionals, after it commissioned a report that found there are no black board members across 15 of the UK's leading event trade bodies and associations.
The group's report, Black in the Boardroom, analysed a wide range of event trade associations and bodies to examine representation of black professionals within these organisations.
Nadu Placca, founder of The Zoo XYZ, an event company, was inspired to conduct the research following the music industry initiative The Show Must be Paused, also referred to as Blackout Tuesday, when individuals and major corporations around the world took a stand against police brutality and institutional racism by posting a black square on their social profiles last year.
A year on, Placca wanted to see how organisations were taking pro-active steps, rather than making symbolic moves, to improve diversity, equity and inclusion.
Nine out of the 15 organisations analysed published official statements in 2020 acknowledging Black Lives Matter, yet in 2021 still had no black board members, the report said.
The organisations featured in the report are Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP), Event Marketing Association (EMA), Event & Visual Communication Association (EVCOM), Meetings Industry Association (MIA), The Hotel Booking Agents Association (HBAA), The Association of British Professional Conference Organisers (ABPCO), Association of Event Organisers (AEO), Association of Event Venue (AEV), Association for Events Management Education (AEME), Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA), The Association of Festival Organisers (AFO), Production Services Association (PSA), The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), Association of Independent Promotions (AIP) and The Concert Promoters Association (CPA).
Placca was disappointed with the findings because trade bodies and associations are voluntary industry watchdogs set up to regulate and monitor industry standards. By their nature, it is essential that they are inclusive, she said.
"I'm tired of being the only black person running an event agency in the UK," Placca said. "My journey may have been different if I'd had an association behind me. We want to be able to support more black event professionals."
This desire to support others has led Placca to join forces with Nicole Wallace-White, who is events and project manager assistant at The Zoo XYZ, Aaron Raybe, who is director, live events at Momentum Worldwide, and Eunice Obianagha, who is director at Enspire Management, to form the Association of Black Event Professionals.
The founding four will be recruiting additional board members and the association will launch in the coming weeks.
Raybe said: “This report is a demarcation point in time when we can really look at the industry as a whole and say: ‘This is when real change began.'”
The group plans a follow-up to Black in the Boardroom in June 2022 when it will review all 15 of the trade bodies and associations analysed within the report and the status of DE&I within the industry.
Placca said: “If Black Lives Matter to you, this report should be of interest."
The founders emphasised they want to collaborate with and help the wider event industry to improve DEI and plan to work with other initiatives such as the Beehive.