How Can I Attract A More Diverse And Inclusive People To My Group?

by Reid on November 3, 2016

Two couples relaxing together in the countrysideRunning a Meetup group and wanting a more diverse and inclusive group? What can you do?

With Reid Mihalko from and Cathy Vartuli from

Cathy: Someone who runs a polyamory group wrote in and said, “I just started this group but it’s mostly Caucasian people with money, how do I attract people…”

Reid:    I think they also said young- younger…

Cathy: Younger, yeah. How do I attract a more diverse group including people of color.

Reid:    That’s Cathy Vartuli from the

Cathy: And Reid Mihalko from

Reid:    What’s your answer? I’m curious what you answer is.

Cathy: Well, I found it challenging because I was in Dallas running, uh, cuddle party group. The Intimacy Dojo. Meet up group. And sometimes you would have someone of color come, or they would call and say, “Are there many people of color?” And I would have to say, “No, you’re most welcome, but we don’t typically have a lot of people of color coming. We are trying to attract people of all diversities to come.”

Reid:    Hmm mmm.

Cathy: But it is challenging and I can understand that sometimes people come in and they don’t see other people, other role models.

Reid:    Hmm mmm.

Cathy: And it can be a little uncomfortable. And, I did my best to make sure they felt welcome and I actually went to some other groups in the area… emailed them or went to the meet up and invited them to announce it or to bring people…

Reid:    Hmm mmm.

Cathy: …to our group to see that it was a safe, fun thing to do. But it is a challenging thing to do. And I’ve always- I’ve had people emailing about age too, like, how old. One person, like, “I’m seventy, can I- you know, am I way too old?” I’m like, “No, we’ve had people at seventy-two.” Or, you know, “I’m twenty one. I’m a the, you know, will I be the youngest?” Like, you might be the youngest but we’ve had other young people that age and they’ve had a really good time. So, being able to say that other people had come helped. I think also we put, uh, a statement saying that everyone was welcoming and we specifically said it didn’t matter what your sexual orientation, age, gender…Like for age you had to be eighteen or older ’cause we’re doing cuddle parties but…

Reid:    Sure.

Cathy: We try- we explicitly said that everyone was welcome.

Reid:    Hmm mmm.

Cathy: So I think that helped a little bit. But part of it is maybe networking was some other groups. Maybe holding some joint events with people uh, a person of color poly group, if there is one. Or other, other dating sites or, meet up groups that are- have a more diverse clientele…

Reid:    Hmm mmm.

Cathy: …or, attendees.

Reid:    I- I would say the biggest thing is go talk to- to people who lead groups that have the diversity that you would love to welcome in and go talk to them and have a conversation about how can you be more inclusive. And things that you can do outreach-wise and what not to improve the diversity of the groups that you’re running. It’s very possible that you’re doing stuff unconsciously, or just- just from a perspective of being naïve cause you – you wouldn’t know to know better.

Cathy: Hmm mmm.

Reid:    There might be languaging that you’re using, there might be, you know, photographs and things that you’re using to promote…

Cathy: Someone pointed out to us on Thrive You Now that we were- we weren’t having as many, people of color and we- we were grateful for the feedback. We were looked at how- wow, we haven’t. So we included that, but try now people have different ages in their photos, different races. Different, like gay or lesbian couples.

Reid:    Basically, cues or clues that you’re- you’re conscious and aware of diversity more than just saying, you know, everyone’s welcome.

Cathy: Right. Yeah.

Reid: And your best bet if you’re running a meet up group is, like I said, go talk to other organizers and ask them to tell you what you need to be doing because the very act – I’m assuming that this, the person running the group is white but I don’t know…

Cathy: Hmm mmm.

Reid: If…the very act that you- you actually are actively going out and asking for advice- also knowing that they don’t owe you their time.

Cathy: Right.

Reid:    Like if there’s not…you know. You know…”Hello, person of color, could you please educate me on how to get more people like you in my group.” Like, it’s- I don’t know why that was a bad British accent but…

Cathy: Hahahahaha!

Reid:    You know like, no one owes you anything because there’s this thing called Google.

Cathy: Ask the Google.

Reid:    And, you may want to Google, tips on how to increase the diversity of, you know, your groups or things like that. And do some- some research and reflection, uh, about race and diversity and things like that. But reaching out to other community leaders and- and really sincerely saying, hey, you know, I’ve started this group. I really want it to be a kickass diverse group and here the challenges I’m having. I’m having an age thing. I’m- I mean I’m blessed that I have, you know, affluent people coming but I also know that it’s- it’s creating something or- or something’s going on that I don’t- I- I can’t pinpoint yet cause I just don’t know.

Cathy: Well, with the affluent…

Reid:    How can you help? And then you asking, is also showing that- that you’re trying – you’re trying.

Cathy: Hmm mmm.

Reid: And you will start building connections with these other community leaders who will then be, like, “Oh! You know, I think- I know you as a human being now. And…”

Cathy: Or someone asks, they can say, “Oh, this is a great…a person that know the organizer, go ahead and go do that.”

Reid:    It’s about networking and – and relationship building.

Cathy: Yeah.

Reid:    And, you know, if you are only, sort of saying, your community from the community that’s around you, or the community that’s interested in- in what you’re up to, uh, outreach is really huge and education and reflection.

Cathy: Yeah. In terms of the affluent part, I was included at your advice, that no one was turned away for lack of funds. So, there was an email address, like if you can’t afford the tickets or you’re in a place where you can’t afford them right now. On Eventbrite, just email and we will either comp, or trade, or do something so that you can come.

Reid:    Or you could create a, you know, suggested price and, you know, the jar’s at the front door, or something like that. Like, those are design elements but again, like, you could be being classist and not knowing it because you wouldn’t know that what- certain things that you’re doing could occur as- as classism. That’s all.

Cathy: Yeah.

Reid:    So…Google it.

Cathy: Yeah, and it’s a great question. Thank you so much for asking cause a lot of people are just afraid of stepping on toes and they won’t ask at all so…

Reid:    Yeah. And you who wrote in, so kindly post in the comments a link to- to your group because some of the people who are drawn to this might have some- some great advice and- and comments as well. Or maybe even will come to your group.

Cathy: Yeah. Good luck.

Reid:    Thanks for watching, everybody. Leave your comments below. Bye

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: