equity

Shoutout Atlanta 2020 Interview - The Giving Skirt blowing bubbles

Shoutout Atlanta 2020 Interview

(Shoutout Atlanta 2020 Interview–reprint of the article)

September 1, 2020 – Shoutout Atlanta featured Handy Entertainment

We had the good fortune of connecting with Jan Levie and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jan, how does your business help the community or world?

At Handy Entertainment, we say “Everybody is at the table,” and mean it. Diversity and inclusion are the foundation of what we do. Some of the ways we address inclusion and diversity are in hiring. A year ago in March we began partnering with the Bobby Dodd Institute to build meaningful positions for people with disabilities. There are many kinds of disabilities–some that are obvious, and some that fall under the radar. Under- and unemployment are extremely high in the disabled community. Something as simple as maintaining eye contact in an interview, or only having the stamina to work a certain number of hours a day makes finding meaningful employment particularly difficult for people with disabilities. The work we create demands flexibility. That flexibility gives us the nimbleness to adapt not only what we do, but also how we can structure work. Another way to build diversity and inclusion is by making what we do accessible to more people. Our first cancellation due to the pandemic was to be our first event implementing American Sign Language. We wanted to underscore the importance of accessibility in the events industry. While submitting for grants and funding in April, I discovered that out of 19 employees, 17 were women, minorities, LGBTQ+, disabled, veterans, or a combination. The vast majority of businesses we partner with are owned by women, minorities, LGBTQ+ folk, veterans, or again, a combination. How did we create this environment? With intention. We’ve been members of the OUT Georgia Business Alliance (formerly Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce) since 2012, back before it was cool. I remember a conversation with my business consultant when I’d told him I was putting the AGLCC logo on my website. He said, “That might cause you to lose business.” I replied, “That’s too bad. That’s not the kind of business I want.” That’s the bottom line. What are your values? How do you treat people? Do you stand up for what you believe in? Do you stand up for others? Everybody is at the table.

What is it that you do? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?

What We Do. You are celebrating a milestone and sharing the most precious minutes and hours of your life with us. For corporate events, the stakes are equally high. We are given an awesome, rare, and daunting task–create meaningful and engaging entertainment that is unique and personal. Your event might call for customized Lip Cards, special costumes, messaging, or take-aways. Every one of our events and activations focus on creating a welcoming environment, putting people at ease, and connecting them with meaningful interactions. Our challenge is to produce an event that meets your needs that you’ve shared with us and even the ones you haven’t told us. What we do is similar to baking a different kind of cake for each event using different ingredients and a vision. As the world becomes more and more efficient and technology plays an increasingly prominent role in everything we do, my job is to create human connections. We bring people together and share a moment with them that is real, that is tangible, and is about them. That’s the bottom line–there is NO one recipe. That is what we love and what keeps me up at night.

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WBENC-certified SBA WOSB logo

WBENC certified SBA WOSB

WBENC certified SBA WOSB. Handy Entertainment is proud to announce that it has been recertified as a WOSB and as a WBE. These designations allow certified diverse businesses to compete for government contracts, and for contracts with corporations that contract with the Federal government. This is one step towards leveling the playing field. Preparing submissions for the Small Business Association and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council WBE certification programs call for an enormous amount of detailed information and documentation, but are well-worth the effort!

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People in rainbow colors hunched over at a starting line. Privilege, bias, and racism: How do you benefit or are you excluded?

Racism and Bias in Events

Racism and Bias in Events

An article from the NYT: Not  Invited, Even to the Planning

Racism and bias in the events industry are so prevalent that we’ve become blind to them.

If you are part of the event and wedding industrial complex, you need to read the above article.

This article from the August 8, 2021 NYT, explores the effects of racism, bias, cronyism, and unspoken rules in obtaining business in the events industry.

Some questions for the industry:

  • As an industry, what are some of the tools we have at hand to redistribute access and privilege?
  • How is your industry sector and your employer, or your business creating access?
  • What are the risks involved in openly discussing these topics?
  • Who is most likely to be adversely affected?
  • What do YOU believe the criteria should be for listing businesses as preferred partners?

The effects of these practices

This article examines some of the criteria for vendors to gain access to preferred vendor lists. Looking at how they are represented, how this access is gained, or who is denied it, is eye-opening.

The similarities between these practices, redlining and gerrymandering are striking. The results, just as insidious and long-term.

This is able to continue through self-regulated systemic policies. What are some of the ways that we, as individuals, businesses, and associations can address our privilege and work towards equity?

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How to Maximize Event Accessibility

You can maximize event accessibility in many ways.

By accommodating everybody, including those with invisible disabilities, you make your events more comfortable, increase your reach, and create a premium environment.

  • Planning
  • Event design
  • Technology

Event planners work magic behind the scenes. They pull everything together to create an exciting, welcoming environment.

Diversity and inclusion work best when they are a part of the planning process. ​

〰PLANNING〰

Are guest accommodations friendly to people with disabilities, including those with ‘hidden’ disabilities? Most U.S. hotels, motels, inns, etc. include accommodations that are ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant. In fact, all accommodations designed or constructed after January 26, 1993 are required to be ADA compliant.

How can you make it easy for your attendees from the start? Provide them with an accessibility statement and point of contact in event announcements and invitations. Include clear instructions on how to request accommodations. You’ll want to clarify deadlines for requests for special accommodations and avoid disappointment or avoid confusion. (Scroll to the end for two examples!)

Share details about lodging and transportation accessibility with out-of-town guests.

〰EVENT DESIGN〰

The best event designs unify and refine your event. You’ll want to make sure that acoustics, lighting, and climate all contribute to making your event as comfortable and inviting as possible–for everyone.

Prioritize details that contribute to guests’ ability to see, hear, and fully participate in your event.

Ideas to help create a supportive environment:

Thoughtful seating arrangements

Unobtrusive decor

Easily available information

Take it a step further and add personalized event entertainment to make sure ALL  your guests can participate. Strolling entertainers make accessibility a breeze for those with mobility impairments–the entertainment comes to you!

〰TECHNOLOGY〰

If you use visual or auxiliary elements (for example a slideshow or speaker), share a list of  additional services, assistive technology, or accommodations that you can provide.

Examples:

●  American Sign Language interpreters

●  CART services (Real time closed-captioning is more accurate than computer generated captions)

●  Visual and auxiliary aids

●  Assistive communication devices

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