Ideas, techniques, and tools for conference speakers and organisers to create diverse, inclusive events
To give tech conference organisers and speakers small, actionable steps they can take to help improve diversity and inclusion within our community and avoid excluding members of the community due to ignorance.
Feel free to make a pull request or open an issue to suggest additional material or adjustment to what's already here. This is a work-in-progress for our community, by our community.## Tips for conference organisers
Create a code of conduct
Check out this advice on creating a code of conduct for your community that offers some suggestions applicable to conferences as well, and these questions to ask yourself when creating a code of conduct.
Also grab this template code of conduct to get you started.
Talk about your code of conduct
Make it easy for attendees to report issues anonymously, and make it very clear how to do so throughout your event. Don't assume mentioning your code of conduct once at the start of your conference is enough.
It may also help to explain why you have a code of conduct and how you created it, to ensure your attendees are on-board with your event's values. Also consider having attendees read and sign your code of conduct as part of the registration process.
Make attendees feel heard
If someone reports a breach to your code of conduct or any other issue during your event, make sure you listen and take them seriously. One of the reasons our community is full of microaggressions that build up and drive diverse members out of our industry is that they're not taken seriously when reported.
Screen speakers and talks for exclusionary behaviour or language
Many of the issues we see in the tech community come from simple ignorance of how we're being exclusionary or discriminatory. Offer support to your speakers by having a diverse range of people watch them practise their talk and point out anything that might be offensive or discriminatory.
If you can, offer training to help your speakers be aware of their unconscious biases and any exclusionary language or behaviour they may use out of habit.
Ask diverse groups for advice on making your event more inclusive
No doubt there are groups of people you haven't considered when planning your conference. It's hard to think of all the different types of people who might attend, so reach out to diverse groups within the tech community to ask advice on what's often overlooked at tech conferences, and how you can make different groups of people more comfortable at your own event.
Diversify your speaker selection process
Personally reach out to diverse, potential speakers and invite them to submit a talk.
Open up submissions to all applicants and blind-screen them to avoid unconscious biases.
Use tools created to help conference organisers find diverse speakers such as:## Tips for conference speakers
Avoid language that excludes others
Gendered language, for instance, such as calling a group of gender-diverse people "guys", can exclude those who don't identify with that language.
Avoid examples that exclude others
Say you have some hypothetical programmers in your talk. Making them all cisgender, white men perpetuates this stereotype of programmers and excludes programmers who don't fit that description. Try to make your examples diverse, or make them neutral by using generic figures, non-gendered language such as "they/them", and avoiding gendered names.
Ask diverse people to watch you practise
You might not realise small ways you've included exclusionary terms, jokes, or examples in your talk. Having people from different backgrounds watch you practise can help illuminate these issues and help you find ways to make your talk more inclusive.
Share your pronouns
Even if you're cisgender, sharing your pronouns helps those of us who are gender-diverse to also share their pronouns without it being a big deal. The more we all share our pronouns, the easier it is to so for those of us whose pronouns might be assumed incorrectly by strangers.