If someone linked you this post is probable you are organizing an event where diversity and inclusivity is an issue and they want to help you fix that. If you want, you can jump to the subsection that better adjust to your case. Remember: diversity is not a TL;DR, you probably need to read the full article to get a better grasp of what you need. As usual: I’m going to focus on the gender gap because it’s easier for me to talk in those terms, but similar strategies can be applied to any other under-represented group.
I was told I have a manel, what’s that?
A manel is a panel full of men (usually white and middle aged). Usually this manel is the main panel or the keynoters panel whose members are the most relevant/the most advertised speakers. They are the display case of your event and they may tell more about your event than you probably suspect.
But I had no women speaker candidates for my event!
It doesn’t matter if it was a set of speakers chosen manually or if you sent a call for papers to the internet waiting for proposals. If you have few (or none) proposals that improve your diversity line-up, something went wrong. Because there are women (and PoC and functionally diverse speakers) out there. You just didn’t met them. But don’t worry, there’s many things you can do to improve it.
Do we really need to explain the problem of diversity? IT is mainly white and male. Even the most egalitarian person have biases due to have lived on a non egalitarian world and this reflects on our community. There are also society pressure to some groups of persons not to work on IT.
“True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”
Martin Luther King
In short, diversity should just be a matter of Social Justice.
But if you are looking for more purely economical reasons, recent studies have shown that diverse teams are more efficient and provide more quality outputs . This means that even when a company invest explicitly on improve their inclusivity and diversity, the return of investment is usually high. Investing in diversity is a win win situation, but it requires some deconstruction and some effort from all the people involved.
Let’s overlook the statistical justice of having a diverse team. Let’s overlook the social justice of working on a team with high diversity. Go directly to why you, someone interested in having business at the end of the year, are also interested in having a diverse team.
Each one of us sees the world from a different perspective. Because of the vital experience that the society where we grow offers us. Those different perspectives are what makes us see different details on the same situation. And these details are what gives the products and services offered by your company the quality you need to succeed.