Industry coalition forms to banish 'manels' from advertising events by 2021

Diversity and Inclusion at Conferences and Events (Dice) has launched with a 10-point charter

A coalition of figures from the media and creative industries have joined forces to create a charter and certification designed to improve diversity and inclusion at advertising conferences and events.

Diversity and Inclusion at Conferences and Events (Dice) has launched with a 10-point charter laying out how event organisers can promote inclusivity, avoid tokenism and finally banish all-white male panels (or "manels") by 2021.

Based on the 2010 UK Equality Act, the charter looks to help those producing industry events to "prioritise an inclusive approach from the outset". Event managers can submit their agenda to receive an official Dice certification.

The charter covers three elements: line-up, content and marketing. Within this there are guidelines around race, age, gender, class, disability and neurodiversity, in addition to the accessibility of venues. The action plan will be supported by limited free consultations with organisers when necessary.

The Dice team is made up of: Amy Kean, head of strategic innovation and creativity at Starcom; Seb Joseph, brands editor at Digiday UK; James Whatley, strategy partner at Digitas UK; Nicola Kemp, managing editor of Bite at Creativebrief; Alex Tait, chief exec of marketing consultancy Entropy; and Faisal Ahmed, director of innovation and business transformation at Sudler London.

Kean said: “Rarely a week goes by without an event failing to prioritise diversity and inclusion. 'Manels' do get called out, but the industry doesn’t seem to learn. By not adequately representing all of society, conferences are sending a message that either they don’t notice inequality, or they don’t mind it. Dice doesn’t claim to be the authority on diversity but we do want to help make things better.”

Digitas' Whatley added: “It’s simple: representation matters - and we believe the industry can do better. Talk is good but action is what we want to inspire. That is why we have launched Dice. By following the charter our hope is that conference organisers have the roadmap they need to improve the diversity and inclusion at their events - both on stage and off.”

Diversity has become a major issue for event organisers after the CES was called out in 2018 for announcing an all-male keynote speaker lineup, compounded by a later protest that adding more female voices would be a "challenge". Elsewhere, Dmexco faced criticism in 2019 for hosting 19 all-male panels.

Despite such high-profile missteps, the issue of diversity remains a live one with major gatherings such as the World Economic Forum in Davos accused of elitism. The Drum has sought to play its part by pulling together a list of the 50 best female speakers to make their voices heard.

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