Tips on diversifying your speakers (from Tanya X Short)

This time we’re sharing some great tips from a colleague, Tanya X Short, starting with this tweet:

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 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, including 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? (The original “Please diversify your panels” doc is in the creator’s trash hmm…) this is a copy with open access to all.

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 signal boost.

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 signal boost. 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 with 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 Tanya X Short and she can hook you up with someone. let’s fix this!]

Oh yeah I meant to explain… diversifying is “easy” in that it’s a solved problem, but hard b/c it does take extra time, and event runners are chronically at max bandwidth.

Additional good points in replies to this thread: