The last few weeks have certainly been a time for reflection and learning, not just for us at Traverse, but for so much of the industries and communities that we represent and work in.
We understand that diversity and inclusion aren’t just buzz words or a trend. We know that what is important is the real long term action that will bring about change, not just the shares, likes and comments on social media.
What action has Traverse taken?
Back in July 2019 at our annual conference, Traverse 19, we hosted our main closing panel on diversity and inclusivity. It was an incredibly eye opening and insightful session to be a part of which prompted further in depth conversations. Later in the year we then scheduled time at our company’s away week to develop the conversation further and ensure that Traverse would not just be inclusive, but also a leader in this space, setting an example that other agencies and events companies can follow.
As a company we have been committed to making sure our conference programmes are representative of the real world; disabled people, people from a BAME background, plus sized and the LGBTQIA+ community to be there not just to speak about diversity. While these diversity talks are of course essential, we have always seen that people from all minorities and backgrounds are fantastic speakers on every topic we cover, from web development to photojournalism and everything in between, we never see this changing.
We would love to be in a space where discussions and panels about inclusivity and diversity, such as those we held at WTM London and BorderlessLive are no longer needed, we hope that day will come soon. For now we will make sure diversity discussions stay front and centre while still ensuring that people of all minorities are represented across the board as speakers, workshop leaders, campaign creators, panelists and much more.
As a result of conversations and goals set at our team Away Week last year, we decided that inclusivity and diversity needed to be a core value of Traverse activity going forward, not just something that we discuss when lining up events and campaigns. Six months ago we updated our Core Values to reflect this and put plans in place to reach out to start a conversation on diversity and inclusivity.
The initiative included inviting a range of content creators for a diversity discussion, paying attendees for their time and expertise. The aim was to better understand the bigger issues in the industries that we work in with the potential for us to produce and publish guidelines that we as a company can be held accountable to.
Unfortunately we then had to put a pause on these sessions in the short term as COVID-19 has had an immense impact on the travel, events and content creation industries. We are looking to restart these sessions as soon as we have the resources to do so. Ideally we wanted to continue hosting face-to-face discussions, although now we realise that these discussions may have to take place online.
What are we doing going forward?
For Traverse, this has been an on-going effort that we had already committed to, not a short term reaction. We know that we may not always get things right, but we are listening and striving to be open, transparent and to keep the conversations going in order to do better. Actions speak louder than words, mentioning our intent means nothing until we follow through, which we have begun, and will continue, to do.
We hope that you can help us to improve by having these important discussions and being part of our community. We are in the process of taking the next steps to publish our values and targets, as well as sharing data from our events and campaigns in 2019. We want you, every one of you, to take us to task if you feel we are not doing well enough or just not doing enough. In the next few weeks we’ll make sure to share the guidelines as well as a template for other brands and agencies to do the same.
In recognition of the tragic events of a couple of weeks ago, we stand with the Black Lives Matter movement and the Black content creators in our community. We’ve been listening and learning, and wanted to take this opportunity to share some of the amazing work produced by content creators and help amplify their voices and experiences:
- Hey Dip Your Toes In – ‘So You Want to Be An Ally To Black People’ https://heydipyourtoesin.com/be-an-ally-to-black-people/
- Kerwin McKenzie – Travelling As A Black Guy https://www.passrider.com/traveling-as-a-black-guy-treats-trials-and-tribulations/
- I Was Travelling in Thailand and got Cast in Spike Lee’s New Movie, by Travis Levius on CNN: https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/spike-lee-da-5-bloods-thailand-extra/index.html
- Roobens Fils’ blog delves into what it is like to travel as a Black man: https://www.beenaroundtheglobe.com/category/blacktravel/
- Erick Prince’s YouTube is the best of food, travel and other amazing experiences: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLvozTwKNGuh8WUeSHrSkpw
- Lọlá Ákínmádé Åkerström’s Instagram is always inspiring and she is a fantastic speaker at events all over the world, and online: https://www.instagram.com/lolaakinmade/
- Martinique Lewis is a leading voice when it comes to Diversity in Travel and someone you should absolutely be following (read her interview with Traverse here): https://www.instagram.com/marty_sandiego/