Feedback is a Gift: Being a Lifelong Learner in DE&I with Vanessa Santana

DE&I Blog

As event organizers, we’re conditioned to be masters of the “to do” list and check items off as we go. With our meetings and conferences, we also tend to take that approach with such things as our speaker line ups, but when looking at DE&I, that’s not the best or even the ideal approach.

The Scoop sat down with Vanessa Santana, Associate Brand Manager, Dove Haircare Innovation at Unilever, to truly understand what it is to be fully present and mindful in the DE&I space and the power of accepting feedback and being always willing to learn.

DE&I is an issue that we tend to overcomplicate. We can start small to integrate ourselves into cultures that aren’t ours.

Most networking events focus on connecting participants to make introductions, potential partnerships, and growth opportunities. While this type of networking does provide a great opportunity and enriches the attendee experience, as our teams, markets and products evolve, as should we with our intentions with networking. We have a responsibility and an advantage to set up networking events that spur tough and messy conversations intentionally and spontaneously at the same time… which is exactly how the conversation between Vanessa and Fallon began. In recent years, event organizers and their teams have struggled with the best way to analyze and review how they prioritize and action DE&I in their events. Knowing where to start, when to start and who to consult can be confusing, and Vanessa provided us with some tips on how to craft this process. DE&I is an issue that we tend to overcomplicate. We can start small to integrate ourselves into cultures that aren’t ours,” said Santana. We all want to be our best selves, and we asked Santana what small steps can be taken to become better allies and fully open to further our education on DE&I.
Performative Allyship
Everyone strives to be a well-meaning ally and in doing so, you must look at what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Are you doing it to gain validation or are you open to learning more iterations of a process to in fact, be more inclusive? “Ally is a verb, meaning it’s active,” said Santana.
Become an ally to more than one person or culture. Exhausting one minority team member, speaker, or advocate of your organization on every DE&I topic isn’t the true meaning of an ally or diversifying and understanding your customer or audience.
Stop over instating
We hear or see one prominent piece of information and we take it and run with it. Instead of leaning on one thing we know or that made an impact on us, break through the barriers, and have the conversation. Listen and participate in the human connection. In being an active participant, we can understand better and empathize with what we’re retaining and hearing in the exact moment. Once we open up, make further connections and ask more questions, this will lead us to understanding nuances and provides us the power to be more inclusive in our thinking and mindsets. Being a well-informed advocate will add to the richness of the experience of your event and your brand. For more tips and insights on creating more inclusive events and DE&I connection ideas, view our full interview with Vanessa Santana here. Interested in bringing The Scoop to your next event? Contact us today to speak to one of our expert humans!


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