The past year has undoubtedly shined a light on the already existing and long-standing racial and social injustices happening around the world. As a result, many are looking for ways to address these issues, including those within the travel industry.
Launched in early 2021, Tourism Diversity Matters (TDM) is a new organization with a mission to be a resource to foster diversity, equity and inclusion practices that will educate, advocate, engage and empower in collaboration and cooperation with all industry initiatives.
Elliott Ferguson, Chairman of the Board for TDM and President and CEO of Destination DC, and Mike Gamble, TDM's Founder and President and CEO of SearchWide Global, recently shared the collective impact model to inspire authenticity and inclusive leadership throughout the tourism and events industry.
The organization will execute on its goal of a more diverse, equitable and inclusive industry under four key pillars:
- Workforce Development
- DEI Training
The goal is to sustain and expand the platform by collaborating with associated organizations and industries and notable research institutions to develop impactful solutions for all involved. Founding partners for TDM include ConferenceDirect Foundation, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB), and SearchWide Global.
Ferguson, one of the few Black leaders in destination marketing, has been a long-time advocate for repairing diversity deficiencies and misrepresentations in the corporate environment.
"Addressing racism should impact how you lead—it's an American issue," said Ferguson. "As many are confronting these issues for the first time, we can't turn a blind eye and we can't turn back. The pandemic has forced us to slow down and focus on being human. We need to be comfortable with uncomfortable conversations and having these discussions not only at home, but also in the workplace."
Gamble offered additional insight into the organization's goals.
"Tourism Diversity Matters is a dedicated resource focused solely on creating long-term solutions through complete industry engagement and participation," said Gamble. "The intention is to not replace existing good work happening in this area, but rather to shine a light on it, and add value and insight where needed."
Greg DeShields, CDE, CHE, who is a respected leader on behalf of DEI and regarded for initiatives to raise Philadelphia's image as a multicultural visitor destination, has been named TMD's Executive Director. In addition to this new leadership role, he will continue to lead PHL Diversity, a division of PHLCVB.
The inaugural Board of Directors includes some notable industry names, including Carrie Freeman Parsons, Chair of the Board at Freeman Company.
"Tourism Diversity Matters offers the opportunity to reset and heal from a year filled with the most challenging moments in modern history," said Freeman Parsons. "I am honored to be part of this important collaboration moving all toward an inclusive environment with equitable access and participation."
For more information, visit Tourism Diversity Matters.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for Groups Today.