By: Mayte Mata-Sivera
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.