Last week I had the opportunity to co-present with Tara King a talk about diversity and inclusion in the Drupal community. After each time we do this presentation we’ve learned from the audience and made improvements to make the session more helpful. This was my fourth time giving this talk (although other Drupal Diversity and Inclusion leaders have also done it) and I feel like it is getting much more effective at helping people better understand and advocate around issues of equity and justice in tech (and in the world).
In the Drupal diversity and inclusion working group, we are often asked how people can improve the diversity of their tech events. I wrote up some thoughts about this today and thought it would be useful to share here as well.
The most important thing you can do is have your leaders look how you would like your speakers and attendees to look. No matter how well intended, a group of men is going to be less successful recruiting women, and an all-white group will not be able to recruit as many speakers of color.
Representation in leadership matters both because people can do outreach more effectively within their own communities, but also because even strangers will look at that and get more of a sense that they would be comfortable and welcome at the event.
Beyond leadership, here are two practical articles for event organizers: Women speakers, How I got 50% women speakers at my tech conference. They focus on recruiting women, but we need to go beyond white women if we want really diverse and representative events. Many of these principles apply for outreach to other marginalized groups like people of color, people from other countries, low-income people, people with disabilities, non-Christian people, etc.
It’s good to broadcast your intentions to be more inclusive, but you really have to work one-on-one to make a change. You often have to tell people that they would be good speakers because when we spend our whole lives being marginalized, we often lack the confidence of the average white guy.