Ezra Harris, director of HFS Crew, explains why he felt it necessary to start his own events crewing company to help drive diversity in the industry and provide opportunities to people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The events industry to me is everything. I recall the pivotal moment that sparked my passion for this dynamic field. At the tender age of 9, my father, an esteemed professional within the industry, granted me a transformative opportunity to witness a mesmerising theatre show named Swan Lake, on which he had ardently worked. At the age of 16, I took my first step into the events industry by joining an events crew company. Little did I know that this decision would shape the trajectory of my career over the next 16 years. Throughout this remarkable journey, I have had the privilege of working with various crew companies, gathering invaluable experiences and honing my expertise in the events domain.
In 2022, a significant milestone marked the beginning of a new chapter in my career. At the age of 31, I, alongside my family members, embarked on a transformative venture by establishing our very own events crew company called Harris Family Services (HFS Crew). The inspiration and support of my father, brother, and two sisters have been instrumental in this endeavour.
Over the course of my 16-year tenure in the events industry, I have observed persistent challenges pertaining to diversity and inclusivity. Regrettably, the issue of unfairness in relation to diversity remains prevalent and requires substantial attention and resolution. I have seen where the gaps are and how they can be filled hence why I started my own events crewing company where I can give crew from disadvantaged backgrounds an opportunity to work in the industry and make it more diverse.
Diversity and inclusion in events, like in many other areas, is indeed a topic that has gained significant attention in recent years. While there has been progress in some areas, it’s true that there is still much work to be done to achieve meaningful and comprehensive diversity and inclusion within the events industry.
“I have personally witnessed and experienced the persistent challenges related to diversity and inclusion.”
I have personally witnessed and experienced the persistent challenges related to diversity and inclusion. The statistical data further underscores the prevailing imbalance within the industry, with approximately 83% of the workforce being individuals of white ethnicity, while representation from black backgrounds stands at a mere 6%, and other backgrounds, such as Chinese, Asian, etc., account for 11%.
I understand that there are a lot of organisations and event planners who are aware of the importance of diversity and inclusion but find it hard to translate that awareness into actions. It’s one thing to acknowledge the value of diversity, but it’s another to implement inclusive practices and policies. A few other things I noticed are that a lot of organisations and event planners are unconsciously biased where it can affect their decision making when it comes to choosing participants for events. These biases can perpetuate a lack of diversity, even when organisers believe they are being inclusive.
There is limited representation for people from disadvantaged backgrounds and my company has stepped forward to make sure everyone gets fair representation. I believe the industry can change with collaborative efforts. Collaboration among event organisers, industry associations, and diversity-focused organisations can lead to shared best practices and resources.
By addressing these challenges and implementing positive strategies, the events industry can continue to move forward and make meaningful strides toward creating truly diverse and inclusive environments for everyone involved. It requires commitment, empathy, and an understanding that diversity and inclusion enrich not only events but society as a whole.
This piece was featured in the Autumn edition of Access All Areas. Read the magazine HERE.