Representatives from nine meetings and events industry organizations have formed a coalition with the goal of addressing and overcoming sexual harassment in the industry and in the workplace.
Formed in the wake of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, the coalition aims to "identify tools and develop new resources to assist in educating the events industry about sexual harassment," according to a statement.
Member organizations include the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), Association for Women in Events (AWE), Events Industry Council (EIC), International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), IMEX Group, Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC), Meeting Professionals International (MPI), Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), and the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE). All have been addressing the issue of sexual harassment individually, but decided an industry-wide organization was needed.
"It's imperative that our organizations present a united front against sexual harassment in the industry," said Kiki J. Fox, president and co-founder of AWE. "Together, we are declaring zero tolerance for behavior that harasses or discriminates."
Fox, together with Carrie Abernathy, CMP, CEM, CSEP, past-president and co-founder of AWE, organized the alliance. Fox is heading up the task force working on the coalition's goal of developing tools and resources to assist in educating the events industry about sexual harassment. A webinar featuring experts on sexual harassment prevention is being planned for later in the year.
Other task force participants include:
Susan Robertson, CAE, Executive Vice President of ASAE
Bob Skelton, Chief Administration Officer of ASAE
Johnnie White, MBA, CAE, CMP, Treasurer of AWE
Julie Sullivan, CMP, CEM, CTA, Vice President of AWE
Nicole Unger, CMP, Secretary of AWE
Karen Kotowski, CAE, CMP, CEO of EIC
Cathy Breden, CMP, CAE, COO of IAEE
Carina Bauer, CEO of IMEX Group
Rod Cameron, Executive Director of JMIC
Amanda Armstrong, Chair of MPI
Nicole Edmund, Vice President, Community of MPI
Sherrif Karamat, CAE, President & CEO of PCMA
All of the nine organizations will be taking steps to educate their members on initiatives being taken to prevent sexual harassment. At MPI, this includes updating its Principles of Professionalism to contain explicit wording stating that the organization will not tolerate harassment of any kind; implementing annual training for staff, volunteer and board members on the subject; establishing a confidential, independently serviced complaint hotline; and addressing the subject in MPI's magazine, The Meeting Professional, and in blog posts.