That said, I know from experience how challenging it can be to recruit diverse speakers or panelists. There are a lot of complex reasons for this that I won’t get into here. I’ll just fast forward to solutions.
Tanya X. Short on Curating Diverse Events
transcription of a twitter thread from Feb 2018
As an event-runner, I understand it can be frustrating when people say diverse speaker lineups are ‘easy’, given how it fails to happen so often. So here [are] some tips.
First take a breath even if you messed up, you’re not a “bad person”, we’re only as bad as the actions we take. so after a mistake, ok, let’s learn and take some good actions. 🙂
1 – plan to spend extra time finding diverse people to include. this is why people are called “marginalized” — they are pushed to the margin and their work [is] undervalued, not shouted from the rooftops
2 – plan to spend extra money +/or effort persuading them to speak. they put themselves at more risk by appearing in public, and may have fewer resources to spend on you, incl time
3 – when atypical people speak at your event, prepare for their talks to be underrated and their expertise questioned. be ready to defend them.
4 – invite as many marginalized speakers as possible FIRST, to get a feel for how many holes you’ll need to plug with more typical developers. since it will take more time, get these sorted before you find the rest.
5 – be flexible in defining success, to avoid perpetuating problems of capitalist oppression. promote artistry, thought-leading, community leadership, and other kinds of success to help auto-diversify your pool
6 – Looking for diverse game devs? Here’s a good place to start, google for more? https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1o5Hc-iIE8Axlnu8_ui_XMLsm9k-cG1VWg39GV3EONQ4/edit#gid=0 … even if it’s in the trash hmm
7 – Surely you know a FEW marginalized speakers on twitter — c’mon — but if they’re not available, wait! Don’t ask for their help yet! Their time is valuable. Crawl their timeline, see who THEY signalboost.
8 – Still can’t find enough? look for groups of marginalized orgs — Game Devs of Color Expo, Dames Making Games, Pixelles, etc. See who THEY signalboost. Join their groups if allowed.
9 – (Ongoing) every week or two, invest a few minutes looking for, following & signal-boosting diverse voices yourself. this will help familiarize you w/ more and better work in yr field. future you will be happy you did this.
10 – Maybe you’re not pleading with enough flattery. Consider how you would write an invitation to ask YOUR ALL-TIME HERO IN GAME DEV to speak — now title it to this developer instead. they deserve your admiration.
11 – Okay after you’ve done all this and you’re STILL coming up short, now you can beg the more typical devs on your timeline if they have time to rec a few diverse speakers.
12 – If THEY ALSO can’t rec anyone, okay now you can ask your existing diverse speakers for more recs, very politely, but it’s possible your event has a deeper problem…
13 – Honestly if you’ve done all this and you still can’t find 50% people willing to speak… are you holding it at an inaccessible time or place? is there something alienating about the theme? do you or your staff have a bad reputation?
13.5 If you’re not sure what’s going wrong, and struggling, bust out $200 and spend a few hours with a professional diversity/inclusion consultant. DM me and I can hook you up w/ someone. let’s fix this! 🙂
Gotta get back to game dev work myself but anyone, feel free to chime in and recommend more!