Meetings, laws, and people - oh my!

It's a gorgeous day in DC - the cherry blossoms are at full bloom [sorry to those who will arrive for the festival later; you can still find lovely flowers and trees around town] - and perhaps we should talk about "pretty birdies" .. what my grandmother would say when anyone brought up controversial topics - the happy things in life.

Today, I can't.

I am haunted by the face and murder of Trayvon Martin. [One of many articles.]

Are those who attend your meetings or work in the hotels or convention centers in which meetings are held likely to be "walking while Black"? Have you seen the number of people in hoodies who attend or work events? Do we, who are not persons of color, think enough about this or did we before Trayvon's death? Do we consider the implications of profiling at our meetings and in the cities in which our meetings are held? Do we consider the impact on those who attend our meetings of the laws passed in places in which meetings are booked?
When SB1070 was under discussion and then passed in Arizona, some in our industry discussed what the impact could be on those who attend meetings who were either from outside the US or who could be profiled under the new law. Meetings and conventions were canceled; the industry discussed the implications of the law and its consequences; many spoke out against the law.

In Alabama, an executive with Mercedes-Benz was arrested under the Alabama law restricting immigration; there was minimal discussion on industry web sites and sites devoted to associations and meetings. The consequences for Alabama's farmers and hospitality industry have been great and, like in Arizona, been more widely discussed. (Food prices likely to go higher always cause conversation.) Who's to say that in Alabama someone like the Mercedes executive won't be arrested while attending your meeting?

Groups are considering canceling meetings in states where similar immigration laws have been passed. Other groups are looking at the implications of  the "vaginal probe" laws or states' laws impacting birth control for women and whether it is appropriate to hold meetings in the states where these laws were passed.

I'm not suggesting canceling meetings or not boycotting cities or states where laws are in conflict with  participants' beliefs or in which participants may be targeted or profiled. I am, someone who teaches risk management and ethics (and chairs an industry ethics committee on), wondering why so many issues aren't taken into consideration when we plan and manage meetings and why people - their safety, sense of safety, and comfort - don't come first.

And I wonder why our industry and the people in it are silent so often.

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