Making corporate events accessible and inclusive

Making corporate events accessible and inclusive
Dakota Murphey
Dakota MurpheyDakota Murphey

Posted: Fri 26th Jan 2024

In today's diverse business landscape, making sure corporate events are inclusive to all attendees is crucially important.

Creating an environment that’s welcoming and accommodating for everyone, irrespective of their needs or backgrounds, demonstrates a commitment to equality and social responsibility and enhances your business’s reputation.

Accessibility is not just the right thing to do – it also makes good business sense. Events designed to include people of all abilities and backgrounds create more opportunities for your employees and clients to connect, collaborate and engage with your company.

An attendee who feels welcomed and accommodated is more likely to contribute their diverse perspectives, forge valuable relationships with colleagues and feel positively about your organisation, or the message you’re trying to promote. It's a win-win for your company culture and bottom line.

While it takes intention and planning, creating a truly inclusive event is very achievable. This article outlines practical steps any company can take to make their corporate gatherings places where everyone can fully and actively participate. Invest in accessibility now and you’ll reap rewards through strengthened internal and external connections.

Making events physically accessible

When planning corporate events, the venue and physical layout should be designed with accessibility in mind from the start. Organisers need to ensure the venue itself is wheelchair accessible with ramps, wide doorways and lifts if needed.

Also, there are accessible routes to all areas, including stages, seating, exhibits and restrooms. Providing different types of seating options is also important, allowing attendees to choose chairs or standing areas to suit their mobility needs.

Marquees can be used to provide sheltered access between the parking area and venue entrances. They can also be used for talks and panel discussions, providing a ground-floor space for attendees to access without the worry of stairs.

Considering accessibility in all physical elements creates an event environment where everyone attending can freely participate.


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Make sure diversity extends to the line-up

In addition to accessibility accommodations, representation also plays a key role in inclusion. Events should showcase diverse speakers, presenters and performers that reflect a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.

For example, panel discussions are more impactful when the panellists provide different perspectives. This representation helps attendees from underrepresented groups feel welcomed and valued at the event.

It also enables all participants to learn from each other; broadening understanding across differences. Having diversity on stage and amongst featured guests allows the event schedule itself to champion inclusion.

Promoting representation demonstrates that the voices and contributions of marginalised groups matter. Diversity in corporate event line-ups sends a message that the company authentically supports inclusion and equity.

Sensory-friendly events

Not all disabilities are visible, so it's important to consider the needs of neurodivergent attendees when planning corporate events.

Providing quiet zones and sensory-friendly spaces is invaluable for those who may become overwhelmed by noise or crowds. These areas should have moderated lighting and sound to limit overstimulation. Flashing lights and sudden loud noises can cause distress and should be avoided.

For autistic or neurodivergent attendees, having clear guidelines on the event schedule and programme helps them prepare and feel more comfortable. Predictability and routine are also key.

Taking the needs of neurodivergent attendees into account by providing accommodations like quiet zones demonstrates a commitment to inclusion. Simple adjustments to lighting, sound and scheduling enable more inclusive participation and a stress-free event experience for attendees.

Promoting inclusion through communication

Effective communication ensures all attendees can fully participate in the event experience. Provide live captioning services so those who are deaf or hard of hearing can follow speeches and presentations. Sign language interpreters may also be necessary for some portions of the event.

All printed programmes, signage and visual aids should use high-contrast colours and large, easy-to-read font sizes that cater to every audience member. You can then make announcements over the PA system for any last-minute updates to the programme.

Encourage presenters to speak clearly and slowly and allow attendees to request accommodations like assisted listening devices, braille or large print handouts so they can follow along more easily. Promoting inclusion through accessible communication methods enables any attendee with a disability to engage with the event on equal terms.

Digital accessibility

In the digital age, online and virtual elements are often part of conferences and corporate events. Ensuring these aspects are accessible is key for inclusion.

Any emails, websites or social media apps related to the event should be designed for screen reader compatibility. Provide text descriptions (known as alt text) for all images and graphics to aid the visually impaired. Videos should also include captions and audio should have transcripts available.

Be sure that presentation slides and digital displays have sufficient colour contrast and text size, and allow attendees to request digital documents in alternate formats like braille or audio files, as needed.

Corporate events should also make use of QR codes linking to online resources or provide digital wayfinding. With inclusive digital experiences, remote attendees and those requiring assistive technologies can actively participate.

Accommodate dietary requirements

When providing food and beverages at corporate events, it is essential to consider dietary restrictions and cultural needs.

Offering a variety of options like vegan, gluten-free, halal and kosher dishes makes attendees with food limitations or religious observances feel welcomed and included. Be sure to have clearly labelled menus and buffet items to enable people to easily find options that meet their needs.

It is equally important to provide plenty of non-alcoholic drinks to accommodate those who abstain for religious or personal reasons. Taking steps to understand and accommodate various dietary requirements demonstrates a commitment to attendee diversity.

Companies should aim to acknowledge fasting periods and other religious practices by adjusting catering as necessary. Similarly, the provision of private prayer rooms shows respect for different faiths and allows observant attendees to fully and comfortably participate.

Creating truly accessible and inclusive corporate events requires forethought, planning and commitment. However, the benefits of building an event culture that welcomes diversity are immense.

Companies that embrace accessibility show current and potential employees their values around equality and social responsibility. Events designed for inclusion allow for more meaningful networking and collaboration, as everyone can fully participate.

Relevant resources

Dakota Murphey
Dakota MurpheyDakota Murphey
I am an established freelance writer based in the UK. My aim is to support niche businesses and enterprising individuals to increase their visibility and promote their products and USPs. I have more than ten years' experience in writing about eCommerce, Digital Marketing Trends, Branding, Cybersecurity, Social Media Channels and Company Growth. I regularly contribute to a number of authoritative resources online and enjoy sharing my knowledge and experience with other like-minded professionals.

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