By: Kylie Williams
Each January in Vancouver, AME’s Roundup conference welcomes thousands of people from around British Columbia, across Canada, and the world. For some, it’s a tradition, a chance to reconnect with friends and colleagues and tread the well-worn path between technical presentations, tradeshow booths and social events. For others, it can be terrifying. A young student attending his or her first conference. An immigrant recently transferred from overseas. An introvert. A normally outgoing person struggling with anxiety or depression. A woman stinging from an off-hand sexist comment. A recovering addict.
In the exploration industry, and at AME, subjects like gender, diversity, inclusion and mental health, are increasingly acknowledged and discussed, and progress is being made. But what can we each do to make Roundup a successful and inclusive meeting that welcomes and encourages a diverse range of people?
“Inclusion is one of the key values that holds up AME,” says Edie Thome, President and CEO of AME, “Roundup is an incredible event, but we recognise that everyone feels overwhelmed or intimidated sometimes, and we hear you. Roundup is a conference for everyone and we must constantly work together to maintain an inclusive culture.”
“Do one thing each day to help someone to feel welcome and included.”
What can you do?
- Be prepared. Visit the AME Roundup website and loosely plan your sessions and schedule. But leave some flexibility to have conversations and explore new opportunities.
- Speak up if you hear an inappropriate comment. If a colleague makes a sexist or derogatory comment in front of you, redirect the conversation; don’t focus on the victim.
- Introduce people to each other at networking and social events. If you see a person standing on the edge of a group, make the effort to include them in your conversation.
- Don’t assume. We all possess unconscious biases and assign our own social stereotypes to people based on their gender, age, religion, physical appearance and perceived ability, and sexual orientation. Try to find out more about a person before you assume.
- Talk small. Love it or hate it, small talk is part of conference attendance and could be the first step in a great collaboration or partnership. But if small talk isn’t your thing, prepare a few tried-and-true anecdotes and ask lots of questions!
- Be an ally. People who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and transgender (LGBTQ2) are part of the exploration community, just as they are part of the Canadian community. Jokes and discrimination related to sexual orientation and gender identity are not welcome at Roundup.
- Take breaks. Conferences can be physically and mentally exhausting, particularly if you are an introvert. Take time to sit quietly and recharge.
- Take Care of Yourself. Wear comfortable shoes. Eat fruit and vegetables. Drink responsibly.
Remember: You belong. Relax. Few people feel completely comfortable in a crowd, so take a deep breath and remember that YOU belong.