DISCOVER Cookbook Diverse & Inclusive Spaces and Conferences

Summary

The easiest and most impactful measures

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.

Organizing Committee

✅ 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.

Venue Selection & On-Site Services

Accessibility Considerations

  • Consider attendees who may need accommodations for a disability

Mobility

  • 🍎 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.

Disability

  • 🍎 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.**

Bathrooms

Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

  • 🍎 Post signs in the restroom and/or on the door instructing what to do if you think someone is in the “wrong” restroom

    • “If you think someone’s gender doesn’t match the sign on the door, please follow these steps: Don’t worry about it, they know better than you.” (via @LGBTplusBristol)
  • ✅ 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.**

Toiletries/Supplies

  • 🍎 Provide tampons and pads in all restrooms (some people who identify as male have periods and may need them)

🍎 Dedicated rooms

  • 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.

🍎 Nursing & Pumping Room

  • Ensure there is a dedicated, single-occupancy space with lock.

  • For the room to be optimally useful, these things are desired:

    • Locking door, Comfortable chair, a desk or table next to the chair (to set the pump, bottles, etc. on), no more than 4 feet from the nearest electrical outlet, cleaning wipes, paper towels, and a garbage can, masking tape and a marker for labeling milk bottles and pump parts, close proximity to a sink for hand washing and washing of pump parts, a refrigerator for storage of pumped milk in the pumping room or nearby, dim lighting

🍎 Gender-Neutral Bottle Feeding Room

  • 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

🍎 Quiet Room

  • 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.

Catering

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”).

    • 🍎 Ask your caterer to create and provide the labels.
  • 🍎 Make sure to include a variety of beverages, in particular non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated.
  • ✅ Common dietary needs to plan for: gluten free, dairy free, vegan, vegetarian, pork free, shellfish free, soy free, nut free - especially peanut (this is usually a serious allergy so take extra care), kosher, halal

Code of Conduct (CoC)

Awareness

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

Participant and Speaker Selection

Speakers

  • 🍎 Consider the specific wording of how you solicit talks, e.g. call for “Speakers who have advice or expertise to share” rather than “experts in best practices”

Invited Speakers

  • ✅ Reach beyond the conference organizers’ own networks. Take steps to go out and find people who might be lesser-known but would make great speakers. Look for more than just “the usual suspects” and reach out to your wider network for ideas, suggestions, and introductions.

Selecting Speakers

  • 🍎 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.

Call for Proposals Review

  • ✅ There are many approaches to reviewing and selecting conference contributions and there is no foolproof type of review that always avoids biases. Regardless of which approach you choose, open or anonymized, we encourage you to make it “double” so that both parties know each other (double-open) or neither party knows the other (double-closed)

Attracting Attendees

  • 🍎 Pay attention to the photos you use to advertise your event—what do people look like who attend?

Event Registration

What to ask on your registration form (and what not to ask)

Preparing to meet accessibility needs

  • 🍎 Ask registrants if they have any additional accessibility needs, and if so, provide instructions on how to make the request.

    • “Do you need any special accommodations to help make your time at the conference comfortable and productive? (e.g. accessibility considerations). Please email and include the details of your request.”

Demographic Info

  • ✅ 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.

    • Not having an answer choice that matches your identity can be a very alienating experience.
  • ✅ Take anonymity and data security seriously. Have a plan for limiting access to this information and keeping it secure.

Dietary Restrictions

  • 🍎 Ask for dietary restrictions on the registration form. Some people have severe allergies or dietary restrictions that can affect their ability to attend the conference.

Photo Policy

  • 🍎 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.

Code of Conduct

  • 🍎 Show the text of the Code of Conduct and a required check-box that the registrant has read it and agrees to abide by it.

Childcare

✅ Offer financial support for childcare.

  • Build it into your budget.

    • Link it to sponsorships, or university partners, or make part of the registration fee from all attendees go towards providing childcare support as service.
    • Add an option to the registration, e.g.: “Donate $20 to help with childcare costs.”
    • Collect the data on the registration form. How many people would make use of childcare services or grants?
  • 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.

Inclusive Practices During Check-In

🍎 Photography Permissions

  • Managing photography opt-outs:

    • Badge lanyard at registration should be made available to indicate photo preferences (green = photos fine; yellow = ask first; red = no photos)

🍎 Pronoun Pins, Buttons, or Ribbons

  • Indicating pronouns:

    • 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).

Grants/Scholarships

✅ Offer grants to support attendance

  • Eligibility Requirements

    • 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)

  • Payment

    • 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.

Assessment of the event

✅ 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.


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