Whether it’s in-person or virtual, PMI events give you the right skills to complete amazing projects. In this blog, whether it be our Virtual Experience Series, PMI Training (formerly Seminars World) or PMI® Global Summit, experienced event presenters past, present and future from the entire PMI event family share their knowledge on a wide range of issues important to project managers.
Imagine two project managers from Utah—one of them Black and the other Spanish—sharing an Uber ride to the PMI Global Summit in Atlanta. Overhearing our conversation, the rideshare driver chuckles, assuming it's a joke that both of us live in Utah. After that awkward yet fun conversation is when I decided to pay close attention to the diversity on display at the conference.
Here is what I observed…
Diverse attendees: There were attendees representing various industries, not only technology. We also had the opportunity to network with professionals from construction, healthcare, education, retail, banking, and more. We met people who were at different points in their careers, from people that just started their journey into project management to seasoned PMO leaders. Finally, so many countries of origin were represented. I was amazed at the people coming from Europe, Africa and LATAM. This diversity enriched networking opportunities and facilitated cross-cultural learning.
Diverse speaker lineup: This year the lineup of speakers was from various backgrounds, including women, people of color, and individuals from different cultures.
Inclusive keynote addresses: The conference kicked off strong with Cassandra Worthy, who spoke about embracing change. Her keynote was incredible, but what stood out was her open admission of the challenges she faced as an executive being a Black, queer woman in leadership. It was a powerful moment, with over 3,600 people listening as she shared her journey, highlighting the difficulties she faced in her career.
On the second day, Arminda Ascano was the keynote speaker, guiding us through the nine micro-generations and their unique relationships with technology, including artificial intelligence. It became evident that the global session had attendees from different generations, and the keynote shed light on the diversity in the room.
Varied topics addressing inclusivity: The conference sessions covered a wide range of topics, including PMOs, AI and project management. Many of these sessions highlighted the significance of diversity and inclusivity (for instance, workshops like "What Does Equitable Stakeholder Engagement Look Like?" and "Create a Flourishing Psychologically Safe Project Team Culture Built on Effective Communication"). Additionally, the session titled "25 Million Projects by 2030? Closing the Gender Gap in Project Management" tackled gender disparities in the field.
I'd like to give special acknowledgment to Stuart Easton. During his workshop "Too Many Projects: The Serial PMO Killer," he used an example of a couple (male/female) buying a house; however, he acknowledged various types of couples and highlighted that he chose to use a traditional couple as it was easy for him to find visuals for his presentation. His comment demonstrated a commitment to diverse and respectful representations in his presentations. It serves as a reminder of the importance of inclusivity and recognizing all individuals.
Inclusivity in food: A lot of vegetarian options! Based on my experience as a volunteer for PMI Northern Utah Chapters, I know how challenging the food service is—including line management, food selection and forecast quantities.
So, cheers to the organizers because every day in each of the meals was a yummy vegetarian option! There were challenges as always; however, let’s highlight the bright spots—that we had a place to sit, eat and relax (and that there was also a vegetarian option in each break).
In summary, the PMI Global Summit in Atlanta marked a significant leap in diversity and inclusivity, especially considering my attendance dating back to the Los Angeles conference in 2018.
Attendees hailed from diverse backgrounds and industries, fostering cross-cultural connections. Notably, speakers and workshop leaders addressed critical topics, emphasizing the importance of inclusion. The commitment to representation was demonstrated by speakers like Stuart Easton. Inclusivity extended to food options. These improvements are promising, and I hope to see further enhancements in the coming years—including gender-neutral bathrooms, mother lounges, and more diverse dietary choices as halal or kosher.
Thank you for your comment. As an immigrant in the USA, I've come to understand that navigating cultural nuances and embracing new environments can present challenges. Regarding the term 'woke,' it often carries a diverse range of connotations and interpretations, sometimes being used in a pejorative or dismissive manner towards social justice movements. I hope that your mention of the 'woke movement' wasn't intended in that way.
It's essential to approach discussions on social change and inclusivity with openness and understanding, fostering constructive dialogue for positive progress.
Kwiyuh Michael Wepngong, from my point of view PMI global is an amazing experience and this year was outstanding, I really loved meeting and learning from people from different cultures and backgraounds. Hope to meet you next year in Los Angeles!
That's a great point! I've met people who speak various languages, and as an event planner for the PMI Northern Utah chapter, accommodating sessions for such a diverse group will be a significant challenge.
On a positive note, this time, nobody mentioned, "You have a strong accent." There were so many people with different English accents that I felt very comfortable speaking English!
Your experience at the PMI Global Summit in Atlanta offers a vibrant snapshot of diversity and inclusion in action. It's heartening to hear how the event embraced a wide array of perspectives, industries, and cultures, creating a rich tapestry of professional knowledge and experience.
The diversity of attendees, representing various industries and career stages, from different parts of the world, is a testament to the global nature of project management. This melting pot of professionals not only enriches networking opportunities but also fosters invaluable cross-cultural learning and understanding.
The speaker lineup, reflecting varied backgrounds and experiences, brought depth and breadth to the discussions. The powerful keynote addresses, particularly Cassandra Worthy's candid sharing of her journey as a Black, queer woman in leadership, and Arminda Ascano's insights into micro-generations, underscored the importance of recognizing and embracing diverse perspectives in every sphere of professional life.
The varied topics addressing inclusivity, such as equitable stakeholder engagement and creating psychologically safe project team cultures, highlight the evolving nature of project management. It's not just about timelines and deliverables; it's about people, their experiences, and how they contribute to a project's success.
Stuart Easton's workshop and his acknowledgment of the need for diverse representations in presentations show a growing awareness and commitment to inclusivity in the field. It's a small but significant step toward broader recognition and respect for all forms of diversity in professional settings.
The inclusivity in food options, like the availability of vegetarian meals, is another thoughtful touch, showing that inclusivity goes beyond just the professional aspects to also encompass personal needs and preferences.
Your reflections paint a picture of a conference that not only talks about diversity and inclusion but actively demonstrates it in various aspects. These efforts lay the groundwork for more inclusive practices in the future, like gender-neutral bathrooms and a wider range of dietary choices.
To build on this discussion: How do you think these inclusive practices at the summit will influence the project management profession in the long run? And, what other areas do you feel need attention to further enhance diversity and inclusivity in professional conferences and gatherings?
From my point of view the diversity within conferences plays an important role in collective learning and growth. When we embrace diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences, we create an environment of mutual learning, that help us to improve collaboration, learn from different point of views, be exposed to different ways of working…and more and more benefits.
I’m lately very passioned about integrating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) into our daily work.
Related your second question, here are a few things that as VP of Programs at PMINUC, I’m trying to incorporate, however note that our events aren’t as big and for sure challenging as global PMI to organize, however is always nice to have that in mind: