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A Simple Step Towards More Inclusive Tech Events

Over here at Better Allies, we’re collecting stories. About software teams who have made simple changes towards a more inclusive culture. It could be a tweak to their daily standups. Or new Slack loading messages that remind the team how to be better allies. Or something else. Anything that makes a difference.

Read on to find out how one team took a suggestion for creating a more inclusive culture and ran with it. And the impact it had not only with their team, but for the tech events they attend.

Woman holding a microphone

We want women and members of underrepresented groups to do more public speaking.

By presenting at an engineering all-hands or an external event, speakers increase their visibility. Which leads to sponsors taking notice. Which leads to career growth.

By being visible, speakers become role models for others who may be just a step or two behind them on their own tech career journeys.

Plus, when they’re a woman or in an underrepresented group, they get to bust stereotypes about what an engineer looks like.

Which is why we’re raising awareness of how allies can help people do more public speaking. Recently, we tweeted five ideas:

  1. Have them deliver project updates
  2. Introduce them to conference organizers
  3. Attend their dry runs
  4. Give them your panel seat
  5. Heck, give them your keynote slot

We’ve also pledged to not be on all-male panels. Again and again and again.

And we’ve shared the idea that, during Q&A sessions, to call on a woman or underrepresented minority first. Doing so helps increase their visibility. Plus they get to practice their speaking skills in that moment.

But we’re far from done. We’re looking for more ways to support those who want to do more public speaking. And we’re thrilled to tell you about how one company is making that happen.

Last week, we spoke with Courtney Seiter, Director of People at Buffer. In our interview, we asked her how Buffer is working to create a more inclusive culture. Our conversation quickly turned to the topic of speaking at conferences. Here’s what happened.

In her role as Director of People, Courtney works hard on diversity and inclusion. Yet the story she shared with us was probably one of the simpler things she’s done in this role.

In her words, “I made a light-weight suggestion to employees who want to speak at a conference. Before reaching out to an event organizer, I recommended a few simple things to look at:

  1. Look at the photos on the event site. Do they show only white men, or is there a diverse group of people represented?
  2. Is there a code-of-conduct?”

Turns out this simple recommendation hit the mark. Employees who do a lot of public speaking are now asking questions. Questions like, “Are you planning to invite female speakers or panelists?” or “Are you planning to have a code of conduct?”

And you know what? Event organizers are making changes as a result.

Pretty awesome, right?

Before you go, here’s one more thing Courtney told us.

Buffer published their Code of Conduct recently. Engineers on the team wanted to share the CoC with the world. Because they’re proud of it. Which is also pretty awesome.

How is your product team creating a more inclusive culture? We’d like to feature your story next. Shoot us an email to start the conversation.

“Everyone can do simple things to make a difference, and every little bit really does count.” Stella McCartney

Becoming an ally is a journey. Want to join us?

Together, we can — and will — make a difference.