Organising inclusive meetings and events - CIBSE Energy Performance Group

By Maria Spyrou and Lucy Pemble, Co-Vice Chairs, CIBSE Energy Performance Group (EPG)

Lucy Pemble
Maria Spyrou
Diversity and inclusion are important in all areas, but we have a unique opportunity as event organisers in the EPG committee to give a voice to those who otherwise might not have one. The committee provides a platform for all to facilitate and promote change in the energy performance of buildings. Diversity contributes to teamwork and it can only help us fulfil our vision. Inclusion in our meetings and events upholds diversity and therefore effectiveness of our committee.

  • We regularly hold committee meetings during the working day and ensure that there are dial-in and screen share facilities for every meeting.
  • We have committee members share roles, and therefore share the time commitment.
  • We use various means of communication, such as email, Slack, and more recently Microsoft Teams to keep everyone informed and involved in all the committee decisions. These channels have become invaluable for staying connected, whilst carrying out social distancing.

We are conscious that so often, professional events and networking are held in the evening after a working day and this can isolate, and even discriminate against those who have other commitments and responsibilities which prevent them from attending. How often do we see the same faces at evening networking events? Are we aware of the people who would attend if events were on at another time? The EPG hosts a range of events at different times to encourage diversity in our audience and ensures the spaces we are using are easily accessible.

Broadcasting an event on Twitter with a phone and tripod
We have tried breakfast events, afternoon power hours and evening debates and they have all been equally well attended, which is testament to the large audience we are excluding when we decide to host only evening events. We also try to host events on different days of the week so as not to exclude people who have other commitments elsewhere. On top of that we try our best to broadcast our events live on Twitter, and subsequently provide the recording and slides for anyone who couldn’t attend in real time.

Although our committee events are held in London, as this is most central to the majority’s work locations, we also organise regional events e.g. Bristol Power Hour and include regional members remotely in meetings. Expanding our scope beyond London is still something we have to improve, it can be a challenge reaching a certain threshold of attendees for regional events outside of London, but that could be because we don’t currently have the same reach.

Some of the challenges we are facing and could improve on, include provisions for the deaf or hard of hearing, as we currently do not add subtitles to our recordings or provide assistive hearing technology during our events. Similarly, we don’t provide voiceover text on our slides, we have recently added this feature on our Twitter feed images, but we can definitely improve our support for those with visual impairments.

Since we started recording our events, and providing the slides afterwards, we have found a wider audience who regularly nudge us to upload the slides post-event. Although there is no face-to-face networking, they have access to the expertise and the knowledge shared during the events. We are currently investigating other ways of hosting these events that comply with social distancing, similar to webinars, but with wider opportunities for the audience to participate and debate the subject of the event. Keep an eye out on our Twitter feed, Linkedin page, or website!

Dr Maria Spyrou, Energy Efficiency Manager, Balfour Beatty Kilpatrick
Lucy Pemble, Energy Consultant, ICF

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