How To Make Your Event Culturally Inclusive

Thriving communities are made up of diverse people from all walks of life. When people know each other, they are part of a community where they can share life’s joys and challenges and create a better life experience for their families.

When one family is experiencing domestic violence or bullying, the whole community is impacted – just think about the loss of productivity; increased stress and time off work or school; injuries, illness and medical bills; lack of sleep; abuse of alcohol and other drugs; depression and loss of self esteem. How can people with broken minds, bodies and spirits reach their full potential and actively participate in community life?

Family violence and bullying impacts all Albertans – and we need all Albertans to work together to reach out to those affected. Cultural inclusion is a key element of building a strong community where reaching out to others is a normal, every-day act of kindness.

Cultural Diversity Cultural diversity includes:

  • Race1
  • Language
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Sexuality
  • Ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Value and belief systems
  • Class
  • Gender
  • Educational background

Strategies To Promote Being Inclusive For Events

A culturally inclusive event is one where everyone aims for culturally sensitive behaviour and activities, and where differences are valued, respected and explored.  When planning your event, ensure:

  • You understand the demographics of your community in terms of cultural diversity.
  • No person or group is excluded.
  • Representatives from culturally diverse groups are actively involved in the planning, delivery and evaluation of the event – or an advisory committee with culturally diverse representation is consulted at all stages of the planning.
  • People from culturally diverse backgrounds are treated with equal respect.
  • Decisions about venue and catering consider the needs of people from culturally diverse groups.
  • Advertising is culturally sensitive.2

Step-by-Step Planning

The following information provides step-by-step tips for planning culturally inclusive events:

Tips for Building Inclusive Communities

“Building Inclusive Communities for Ethnoracial People with Disabilities Project” has developed an excellent resource entitled: Building Inclusive Communities Tips Tool. The Tips Tool provides information about disability-related access and cultural accommodations to assist with the development of programs, strategies, outreach initiatives and the delivery of events that are welcoming and inclusive of ethnoracial people with disabilities.

The City of London (Ontario) Accessibility Advisory Committee has created two guides with information about how to meet the needs of persons with disabilities when planning a meeting, conference, festival, workshop or other type of event.

Early Planning Stages

  • Include people from different cultural groups in the planning – they will be able to offer valuable advice as well as use their own social networks to encourage greater participation.
  • Make sure that every person with a disability can enter your venue and participate with dignity.
  • Consider cultural festivals and religious observances when scheduling events and activities – consult with local faith groups and refer to an interfaith calendar to be aware of days of special observance that might affect attendance.
  • Contact other clubs, societies and services to seek promotion of your event on their websites – inclusivity can be a selling point.
  • Provide multi-lingual information about your event so that all people feel respected and included.
  • Provide promotional materials in languages commonly spoken in your community.
  • Make sure that any advertising or announcements are not unintentionally and indirectly discriminating.
  • Include the accessibility symbols (page 13) on all promotional materials so that people with disabilities are aware that your event is accessible.

As the Day of the Event Approaches

  • Reach out and promote your event through your culturally diverse representatives – use ethnic media, websites and email list serves.
  • Make sure the advertising and signage are clearly visible to a wide range of people.
  • Use multiple ways to advertise: posters, flyers, personal approaches, pavement chalking, etc.
  • Contact service clubs and businesses to assist with promotion.
  • Be creative and incorporate culturally diverse methods of promotion.

At the Event

  • People with disabilities and those who are using public transportation are on a strict schedule, so events must begin and end on time.
  • Be sure to accommodate for food allergies, medical disorders and cultural practices – be sure the meat is halal or kosher, according to religious dietary laws, and that there is a full range of vegetarian food, for example.
  • Provide on-site childcare and attendant care whenever possible.
  • Evaluate your outreach by asking participants to indicate how they heard about your event.

Final Analysis

  • In the end, your event will have been a success if you have:
  • Kept records of contact developed for future promotions.
  • Encouraged everyone to attend.
  • Been explicit about inclusivity in advertising and marketing for event.
  • Kept dietary preferences in mind when organizing catering.
  • Made sure that alcohol is not the only thirst-quenching option.
  • Provided a venue which is accessible to all, enabling everyone to engage with and enjoy your event.

1 University of Melbourne (2009, March 9). Embracing Diversity. Retrieved October 5, 2009

2 University of Melbourne (2009, March 9). Making Events Inclusive. Retrieved October 5, 2009

Modified: 2013-01-10
PID: 15737