Why Diversity Matters to AVIXA

Recently, AVIXA announced its commitment to accelerating diverse representation across its stages and presentations at InfoComm 2021 and beyond. AV Network sat down (virtually, of course) with the organization's chief executive officer Dave Labuskes, CTS to learn more about why diversity matters in the pro AV industry.

AVN: Why is this diversity at events an important issue for AVIXA? What actions have been put in motion to support this goal? 

David Labuskes, AVIXA

Dave Labuskes, AVIXA (Image credit: AVIXA)

DAVE LABUSKES: Diversity, equity, and inclusivity are paramount for any industry, organization, and community to flourish. AVIXA has the opportunity and the responsibility to help ensure the AV industry reflects the faces we see around the world. To maintain an innovative industry, you need diverse voices. 

InfoComm 2021’s Call for Presenters submission form will ask for speaker demographics for the first time. Entries will be considered for a variety of additional speaking opportunities on various AVIXA platforms.

The review process for presentation applications starts with each application being independently reviewed by four volunteer reviewers. They are scored based on how valuable this topic is for the audience. The review committee then gathers together to evaluate the top-scored sessions. They’ll group sessions by topics, and this is where it becomes obvious that there may be a lack of diversity. Then the reviewers can discuss who they can invite to contribute on the topic. We’re looking to bring together the most well-rounded experience for attendees. 

AVN: How can the AV community help support AVIXA’s mission to bring diversity to the InfoComm stage?

DL: We’re asking past InfoComm presenters and industry insiders to “pass the mic.” The concept is for them to encourage lesser-heard voices to apply to be a speaker. And we’re already seeing some of the most-esteemed regulars enthusiastically pass the mic.

AVN: What other ways is AVIXA helping to promote diversity and inclusion in the AV industry?

DL: Diversity has long been an important issue for AVIXA and its members. The AVIXA Women’s Council was formed in 2015 to support and empower women working in the AV industry, and today the council has 45 local groups around the world with 860 members. 

In 2018, the Diversity Council was formed and now has 278 members globally. This council’s mission is to encourage inclusion and promote human, cultural, and systemic diversity in the professional AV industry. Both councils support their missions through professional networking, educational opportunities, leadership development, and community awareness. 

Over the years, the AVIXA Foundation has forged relationships with non-profit organizations like The Loop Lab and EnventU, which seek to tackle racism and other social inequalities by providing career opportunities in the audiovisual industry. The Foundation made donations of $5,000 this year to each organization and matched donations made by AVIXA employees.

Read more about the AVIXA Foundation on page 15 of Xperience 2020.

AVN: How does the demographics of the audiovisual profession line up with the demographics of the population as a whole? 

DL: As part of our commitment, we are actively compiling this information and will release data on the demographic makeup of the AV industry in the first quarter of 2021. This will provide a benchmark of the diversity that currently exists and will help AVIXA set goals and measure progress. Our commitment is to consistently be better than the status quo.

Megan A. Dutta

Megan A. Dutta is a pro AV industry journalist, and the former content director for Systems Contractor News (SCN) and Digital Signage Magazine, both Future U.S. publications. Dutta previously served as the marketing communications manager at Peerless-AV, where she led the company’s marketing and communications department. Dutta is the recipient of AVIXA's 2017 Young AV Professional Award and Women in Consumer Technology's 2018 Woman to Watch Award. Dutta is co-founder of Women of Digital Signage, an organization designed to provide a pathway to promote networking, mentoring, and personal growth.