WT Business Beat

By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

How diverse are speakers at tech events? Not very.

President Biden has made diversity and inclusion one of the pillars of his administration as can be seen in his executive orders.

With that high level of attention, diversity and inclusion will be a lens through which a lot of activities by organizations will be examined. Us included.

A Tech Inclusion Tracker has been launched. I’m not sure by whom, but the index looks at the proportion of speakers at tech conference that are women or Black. It also has a Twitter handle: @TrackInclusion.

The tracker asks: Do tech conferences include a proportional number of women and Black experts?

The proportional analysis is based on data that shows the U.S. population is 51-percent women and 13-percent Black.

So how are we doing? Not great.

Overall, 19 percent of speakers are women and only 5 percent are Black.

By topic, both groups are best represented on workforce issues with 31 percent of the speaker spots going to women and 15 percent going to Black speakers. No Black experts were asked talk about artificial intelligence. And only 2 percent of speakers were Black experts in cloud, cyber and data.

The tracker also lists individual events, including Washington Technology’s recent Power Breakfast on Winning Strategies for 2021. We had six speakers --one woman and one Black man. That comes out to 17 percent for each group.

I guess that’s good, but it can be much better.

I’m proud of our sibling FCW publication which has several events listed where half of the speakers were women or Black. But they also had some where the number was zero.

The entire industry can do better and should. Us included.

We’ve tried to be more intentional in our speaker recruitment. A few years ago, a woman came up to me after an event and said she loved the content, but asked where were the women?

Since then, I’ve tried to recruit a diverse group of speakers. Sometimes, I’ve been successful; many times I haven’t.

That woman was right to call me out. So is the inclusion tracker.

The inclusion tracker just presents the data without commentary . I wish I knew who was producing it but in many ways it doesn’t matter. You can’t argue with the facts.

That’s what I tried to do with my analysis of the diversity of executives among companies on the 2020 Top 100. I mostly stuck with the data, though I did get a little preachy. I’ll be doing an update when we do the 2021 Top 100, and I’m sure I’ll still be a little preachy. I can’t help myself sometimes.

Bottom line: It is good to hold people accountable and to ask questions. Who’s ever producing this index, keep it up. I’m glad you are watching.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Feb 05, 2021 at 9:50 AM

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