Exploring Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Virtual Summits with Erica Courdae

Join me in an eye-opening discussion as we talk about integrating your values into a summit, diversity, equity, inclusion, and how it affects your speakers.

We're currently in a series about virtual summits for high-volume business owners, that has kind of morphed into a sub-series about making an impact and infusing your values through your event.

We're going to continue that today with a special guest who is going to challenge all of us with the way we integrate our values into our summits and run equitable events. Some of the things we discuss today may be challenging to hear or think about, but I know that for me, only beautiful things have ever come from me being challenged by today's guest, Erica Courdae.

Let’s dive in and learn from Erica how we can start to make our businesses, online space, and the world a better place for everyone.

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Episode at a glance

[2:40]  When it comes to building an inclusive business, and prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion in your virtual summits, there are so many practical ways to do better, but it starts with making baby steps. Those baby steps eventually makes such a big difference.

You have to start with clarity on your values and experiences as a human that you want to infuse into your business and whatever it is that you're launching. Think about what you want to create within your summit, who's creating it with you, how you're marketing it, and what the goals are. If we don't have anything to actually tether and to create routes with, we're just doing business for the sake of business, and that's not good business.

[5:24] When you figure out your actual values and operate out of those (when planning a summit or with any other area of your business), it feels so much more aligned, and the kind of people you attract are just absolutely incredible. It’s game-changing!

There is a level of openness, transparency, and vulnerability that happens when you're able to connect with your team, your speakers, and your audience on a deeper level. Knowing your values and infusing them into everything you do will bring more clarity and insight into what you're doing and why. When you consider why you're here, who you're doing it for, and why it matters, it gives you filters for every choice that you're going to make, and that makes decision-making so much simpler.

[10:09] It's important to have a clear understanding of where you are currently when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and be honest with yourself if you're not yet where you want to be. It can be tempting to try to move quickly when you realize that you're lacking in one area or another, but forcing it often ends up creating an environment that’s not safe for everyone.

Understand that you have to have some clarity first on where you are, where you want to be, and what your goals are. And you have to give yourself some grace. Deciding to do a summit does not all of a sudden mean everything changes with this summit. This is a place to begin to make the evolution toward making your business more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

[12:28] If you’re getting ready to start pitching speakers and, for example, you realize you don’t have any racial diversity in your network, how do you create a diverse speaker lineup without being tokenizing? The answer is, if it’s not already in your network, and you just go find and pick someone to fill that role, it is tokenizing.

When you decide to do a summit, this is not the time to recognize what you don't have, and then rush to fix it. You need to begin to work on creating a network that is actually representative of the people that you want to work with, support, and amplify. Don’t do it just because it makes good business sense right now, do it because it’s the right thing to do.

Speaker Compensation

[16:39] We shifted gears to talk about speaker compensation, and it was so insightful to hear Erica's perspective on this. I’ve seen people go off on social media about this topic, one way or the other, and it’s always very forceful, but of course, Erica had a more nuanced perspective on how to approach speaker compensation. 

I don’t think anyone should be asked to give away the thing that they actually get paid to do in these kind of smaller bites because we give the misconception that it’s easy, and in this 20-minute session I can give you all my knowledge. In reality, it’s a 6-month program. We have to be careful of not to devalue all of the time and effort and work that we’ve put into something by showing up and trying to make it bite-sized, for free.

[21:14] I think you have to consider all the things, like the amount of time, effort, and emotional labor you want your speakers to provide so you can decide how you’re going to compensate them.

Compensation is a conversation. If you let someone know what your compensation structure is, there’s always that space to say, “If we need to discuss this, please let me know.” There’s space to discuss what’s included, and where that compensation maybe needs to shift or change. I don’t think there’s a blanket answer that everyone gets paid a certain amount. Be honest with where you are, and if you know you’re not at a place to be able to compensate, have that conversation and know what your budget can do.

Inclusive Payment Plans

[27:11] We also talked about Inclusive Payment Plans, which is a topic Erica covered during our most recent summit for course creators, and had to discuss again here. Payment plans may not be very common for summit all-access passes, but it's an important topic to consider when it comes to the payment plans for your core business offers.

When we think about inclusive payment plans, being inclusive doesn’t always mean making a payment plan affordable to every person  Instead, I recommend approaching it by considering the preconceived notions (usually coming from scarcity), that often influence our decisions when it comes to payment plans.

[31:26] When we charge people more for a payment plan, what does that really mean for your business? Does your payment processor charge more if that same amount is charged once versus over six payments? Is that the welcome mat you want to roll out to start a new relationship?

Figure out what your payment plans do cost you. Look at what the extra fees are. Do the math. It's usually only a couple dollars compared to paying in full, which means adding a significant upcharge for payment plans is adding a new revenue stream for your business. That revenue stream is coming at the expense of people who can't, or don't want to, invest a large sum of money up front, rather than paying throughout the course of working with you. 

[36:04] Get clear on your values and embed them into every decision and action that you take in your business, your brand, your life, and your summit.

It is safe to make mistakes. You can figure it out. As long as you are actively trying, it’s part of the process.

About Erica

Erica Courdae is a trusted advisor to entrepreneurs and executive teams committed to shifting focus, power, and resources in order to create more equity in their business and the world. She believes imperfect action is necessary to create meaningful social change and helps public figures engage in the work without fear of judgment.

In 2018, Erica co-founded the Pause on the Play Podcast. After receiving requests from listeners for a space to connect on the show’s topics, Erica expanded the Pause on the Play brand to include a community and consultancy. Her leadership has now helped thousands of individuals define their values, diversify their networks, and call people into conversations about inclusivity and individuality.

Pause on the Play  |  DEI Calendar 



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Join me in an eye-opening discussion as we talk about integrating your values into a summit, diversity, equity, inclusion, and how it affects your speakers.Join me in an eye-opening discussion as we talk about integrating your values into a summit, diversity, equity, inclusion, and how it affects your speakers.

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