Making your conference inclusive and encouraging diversity is a breeze! Just follow the measures below. The are explained in more depth in the other pages of this Cookbook. Measures that are easy to implement and have a strong positive impact are "low-hanging fruit" and marked with a red apple emoji: 🍎. Measures that take more effort but have considerable impact are marked with a green checkmark: ✅.
As a general rule, we encourage conference organizers to implement all the 🍎 measures and at least one of the ✅ suggestions.
✅ The organizing committee itself should reflect the diversity you want to create in your conference! Prioritizing diversity starts with you.
Conference chairs and lead organizers should take special care to recruit an organizing committee that reflects the diversity of the event you aspire to create.
🍎 Reserve seats in rooms for folks who might need it (wheelchair, crutches, cane, etc.). Choose easily-accessible seats, such as at the end of a row on the aisle.
🍎 Create wide aisles between chairs to make it easier for people who are mobility-impaired to navigate the room.
🍎 Provide large-text signs and easy-to-read maps. Ask conference organizers to announce important information over the microphone, which helps people with impaired vision.
✅ Book sign-language interpreters and/or real-time captioning (someone typing captions) for deaf and hard-of-hearing attendees.**
🍎 Post signs in the restroom and/or on the door instructing what to do if you think someone is in the “wrong” restroom
✅ Ensuring your conference has easily accessible gender-neutral restrooms is a simple way to help non-binary and trans individuals feel included and welcome at your conference.**
The rooms should be clearly labeled to prevent accidental entry, and their locations should be provided in both the print and the online conference directory and maps.
Don’t allow anyone (even organizers) to use the room for other purposes.
Ensure there is a dedicated, single-occupancy space with lock.
For the room to be optimally useful, these things are desired:
Bottle-fed babies can be fed by caregivers of any gender and also benefit from a quiet, low-distraction, private space for feeding.
This should be a separate, additional room ( NOT the same as the nursing and pumping room ) which should be clearly labelled. It could accommodate multiple babies at a time and be equipped with: multiple comfortable chairs with broad armrests to facilitate bottle feeding positions, a bottle warmer, paper towels, cleaning wipes and garbage can for cleanliness, dim lighting and in a quiet area of the conference center/venue
A dedicated room for people who need a break from the stimulation of being surrounded by people at the conference; no phone calls, talking/socializing, notification beeps! People whose religions require frequent prayer can make use of the quiet room.
Consider “quiet areas” if a separate room is not possible.
Making sure that your attendees have something they can eat at mealtimes is an important element of building an inclusive and welcoming conference.
Best to have a sign/small label in front of each dish with a list of ingredients and common labels (e.g. “gluten-free, vegan, includes peanuts”).
Make sure that everyone involved in your conference/event is aware that the CoC applies to them: that not only includes participants, but also speakers, sponsors, committee members etc.
🍎 Tick box at registration that confirms that the participant has read it
🍎 Include a copy of the CoC in the sponsor packet
🍎 Mention that the CoC applies to the speakers in the speaker guidelines
🍎 Ensure that CoC is easily accessible on the conference website
🍎 Include a short version on the printed schedule as a reminder
🍎 Mention it in the welcome talk and at the start of every day, including who to contact if there is a problem/violation
🍎 Call For Proposals instructions – be clear who you want
In the solicitation, be transparent that you want a broad & diverse group to share their expertise.
Let applicants know what criteria will be used to assess their submission and how speakers will be chosen.
If your conference has a long history and you’re trying to change what it’s like, be up front about the kinds of people you want to have speak, why, and how this may look different from years past.
What to ask on your registration form (and what not to ask)
🍎 Ask registrants if they have any additional accessibility needs, and if so, provide instructions on how to make the request.
✅ If you do collect demographic info, be thoughtful about the structure of the questions so that they are inclusive and don’t contribute to alienating or “othering” marginalized people.
✅ Take anonymity and data security seriously. Have a plan for limiting access to this information and keeping it secure.
🍎 If you will have a photographer at your event, include information for attendees explaining that they may be photographed and how to opt out in the registration form.
✅ Offer financial support for childcare.
Build it into your budget.
In general, the two major options are either to 1) award childcare grants (people decide how to spend it, e.g. on their home babysitter) or 2) provide on-site services.
Managing photography opt-outs:
Select a pin/button/ribbon for your lanyard to communicate your pronouns. Using a pin even if you don’t feel like you need one helps create a welcoming space for attendees who do.
Color-coordinate the pins by pronoun for quicker recognition and processing by those who see the pins. This lowers the barrier to checking (look at the color).
✅ Offer grants to support attendance
Applicants should be
from a traditionally underrepresented and/or marginalized group in the technology and/or open source communities including, but not limited to: persons identifying as LGBTQ, indigenous, women, persons of color, and/or persons with disabilities
and be unable to attend without some financial assistance. (language adapted from The Linux Foundation)
Typically, recipients either submit receipts for reimbursement, have direct expenses paid for by the organizing committee, or are granted a lump sum up-front.
We encourage conferences to pay for things directly rather than making attendees pay and wait to be reimbursed, or at least offer this as an option for people who want to use it.
Waiting for reimbursement can be a financial burden on scholarship recipients.
✅ Survey participants after the event to establish whether your diversity and inclusion measures had an effect.
See whether there is any correlation between being part of a minority group and how welcoming the conference felt to the individual participants. You can consider specifically asking about inclusion/diversity on the survey.