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Summer Lambert

Customer Advocacy Manager

Instana

Summer discusses the importance of creating inclusive events so all attendees can feel secure and represented.

My name is Summer Lambert, I'm a customer advocacy manager at Instana. Instana is an observability platform. We are anIBM company, we help other companies monitor their websites for any performance issues. I have spent the past nine years, either split between marketing or advertising. I worked in advertising agencies, both big and small, and I worked in a variety of marketing teams around the country, in fashion and beauty, and cannabis and software. So I spent the last three years at Instana, in a variety of positions, starting in event marketing, specifically conferences, meetups in the whole like tech world. And right now my focus is Customer Marketing, and I work exclusively with our customers to enable them to speak on webinars, speak at events, do video testimonials and case studies.

And so my job is to make sure that our customer is being heard and given opportunities to really shine.

The virtual shift, and finding your way back to in-person events

Before COVID Instana would be participating in anywhere between 30 to 40 events or conferences a year. We mostly went to events like QCon, Reinvent, some of these really big events all throughout the world. And it was a really big part of how Instana would acquire marketing leads, it was very successful for us. And then COVID hit and we lost all of our events, but we very quickly were able to adapt and switch into webinars and virtual events, and we definitely increased star frequency of those, I mean it's... I think it's a lot quicker to be able to set those up and really just navigate that space.

 

Representing all attendees inside our event space

We are now seeing ourselves starting to return to in-person events, which is just really exciting, kind of mind boggling. We have our first in-person event coming up very soon. We have one in November inVegas. And so we're finally seeing ourselves make that transition back into kind of the normal world. In events you don't see a very diverse cast of speakers or organizers. It's really disappointing for a lot of people who want to attend events to not really see anyone on stage that represents them. If you don't see a whole lot of women, you don't see a whole lot of people of color.You don't see a whole lot of people with different backgrounds. It is a whole bunch of maybe Stanford-educated men on stage.

We all kinda feel that it's time for us to see more variety when it comes to speakers or presenters or people really being headliners in events. It's time to really see a better representation of what you're seeing in the world. And a lot of that has to do with the fact that events aren't being properly marketed to a diverse group. And so when organizers are putting on events, they can actually make an active effort in advertising an event in new forms and in new areas, that are specifically targeted to minorities or women, or maybe people who come from a different background, like when it comes to education. So if organizers are trying to make a more considered effort in diversity and inclusion, they start with having someone dedicated to that.

They need someone dedicated to making sure that their events are inclusive. Without someone tasked, it's really easy for that to just be tossed aside, and then you're putting on an event and you've left all diversity and inclusion. You need to search for presenters in areas you may not already be looking. And that could include for me, in my tech background, that would for me, would include looking at "Women WhoCode" or "Black Girls Code", and making sure that our allotment of free tickets at an event is going to those organizations, so that they are enabled to be there and feel represented and be the representation that that space needs.

 

Creating a positive gender-neutral environment

So then we wanna make an effort to make theLGBTQ community feel more included in our events as well. And how do you do that? And I've seen a lot of events recently make that effort and they will offer pronoun pins, on she, he, they... They offer as well, gender-neutral bathrooms. It seems like such a simple thing that really makes all the difference for this community. Also speakers, organizers, you can easily drop gendered vocabulary when you are welcoming people, instead of saying"welcome ladies and gentlemen", you can say, "welcome everyone". And it's an easy switch and it's just training your brain to just say things a little differently that makes everyone feel more included and like they are welcomed there.

Now that we are hopefully entering a postCOVID world, we have to understand that everyone is kind of in this anxious state.We have been re-wired, our brains have been re-wired after the past two years of quarantining and social distancing, and now we're expecting people to return to events with 100,000 people in convention centers. And people might be a little worried about being there, and so organizers can think about offering larger spaces for less people. And so when you start to look at locations of where you may be holding events, you may want to just think of, "are there additional rooms where people can go if they're feeling a little overwhelmed or anxious?" "Is there outside space where people can just quickly walk outside, get some fresh air, feel like they can kind of get away from the space, but still be there?" Just making the considered effort to think about how people are feeling, what their mind state is, in this world where...We're not gonna be able to easily return to what we were. And it's gonna belike that for a while, if not our lifetime. We're gonna actually be now wired to think, "Should I be this close to these many people?"