By: Mary Tucker, Sr. PR/Communications Manager
Maurice Norris is the Public Affairs Manager for Promotional Products Association International (PPAI). Currently, he manages the government relations and product responsibility programs at PPAI. In these roles, he monitors legislative and regulatory developments affecting the promotional products industry. Maurice also assists members with compliance challenges facing their businesses, and helps them advocate for their companies with various aspects and levels of government.
Maurice also serves on the Board of the Graphic Communications Workforce Coalition, and three separate industry diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) committees. Here, he shares with IAEE his vision for DE&I within the exhibitions and events industry.
IAEE: What inspired you to serve on the IAEE Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee?
Maurice: I was initially a replacement for a colleague who was leaving our company. I think lots of people realized last year that more had to be done to make space for a variety of people to exist in this country. At the time, I had recently begun my own work in the DE&I area, and joining this group seemed consistent with the goal of improving conditions for people who don’t check the normal boxes.
IAEE: What has been your experience/observations with how the industry addresses DE&I?
Maurice: My biggest experience with this industry’s approach to DE&I concepts has consisted of my involvement with the IAEE DE&I committee. Considering everything from the scholarship to the mentorship program, to the infusion of DE&I-based concepts into such a wide variety of IAEE offerings, I would say this industry’s approach to DE&I is multifaceted and continues to broaden.
IAEE: What overall advances would you like to see in the industry regarding DE&I?
Maurice: One of the more tangible progressions I hope for is heightened visible representation at industry events, as well as in the various leadership structures. Additionally, I would like to see the conversations around DE&I grow from the periodic or contrived task-based occurrence to a more organic endeavor that happens naturally and daily. Idealistically, I hope for the day when a prevalence of fairness, equity, and inclusivity renders DE&I committees and initiatives unnecessary.
IAEE: How do you think that companies can help advance DE&I?
Maurice: One important step for companies to take is to determine their goals. DE&I has a subjective meaning, so it will be critical for companies to identify what is most important to them and focus on that. Some goals here could include:
- Establish a certain percentage of women or underrepresented minorities in the company and in leadership
- Implement a DE&I training initiative
- Start a supplier diversity program
Whatever goals a company sets, another key is measuring their current status. There’s an old saying that goes, “You can’t improve what you don’t measure,” and these metrics are a huge component in determining the success of whatever initiative a company decides to implement.
IAEE: What suggestions do you have for individuals who would like to learn more about and/or help increase awareness and advances in DE&I within the industry?
Maurice: There are several universities and organizations that offer certificates and other learning opportunities in this space. Many trade associations are also offering guidance, including IAEE and PPAI, in the form of webinars and live event sessions. There is also a huge amount of publications, including research papers and media articles, that cover a wide variety of DE&I-based concepts. There’s a lot of relevant information available, much of which is free to access.
IAEE’s goal is to engage as many members as possible who are willing share their experience to our community on the importance of DE&I. If you have a story to tell, please email Karen Gonzales, CMP, and we will spotlight your experience.