Imagine you are are a small-time startup trying to build a serverless framework along with a serverless platform.
Maybe after reading Andrew's Brown think piece "Serverless is ready, but users are not" you decide to get more folks into serverless by hosting an online conference around emerging serverless SaaS offerings.
You register a funny domain around a headline like "Is Serverless Ready?" and many LOLs ensue.
Is serverless ready?@isserverlessrdyyo...it's ready
isserverlessready.com19:19 PM - 30 Nov 2022
So you reach into your own personal network, and assemble a speaker list from other small-time SaaS offerings along with some community members.
As the online conference approaches, you repromote the event and oh no....
Kristi Perreault@kperreault95There are some stellar people highlighted, but I’m going to (respectfully) disagree, as I don’t see a single woman in serverless represented here… twitter.com/isserverlessrd…01:50 AM - 01 Dec 2022Is serverless ready? @isserverlessrdyyo...it's ready https://t.co/7wQqI2Pqco
Your conference is getting called out by notable Women in Serverless for having an all-male lineup.
The conference is in a couple of days.
Yo, what do we do?
After some googling you come across Andrew Brown's suggested guide titled "You're running an online conference but get called out for having an all-male speaker lineup 2 days prior. Yo, What do you do?" and proceed to read these 6 Suggestions.
Firstly, you accept that you made a mistake during the execution of your conference. This is an internal dialog you need to say to yourself. Put any internal excuses aside eg. "We're just a small company with a small budget" and simply accept it.
Once you've accepted where you are now, the next thing to acknowledge are the shortcomings directly which could be something like this:
- We booked an all-male speaker lineup
- We failed to have a open CFP
- We failed to have mechanisms in-place to uplift a more diverse speaker list
- We rushed into an online conference
- We failed to build and maintain a diverse network
Now with acceptance and acknowledge out of the way we can deliver a strong apology. The purpose of an apology is to lay up a community promise which will be the start of our course correction. Just please, don't put any excuses in the apology.
I crunched the numbers and sorry buddies but I think the best route is to cancel the conference.
Even if you do suggestion 1, if you proceed with the conference with no corrections it will undo all your efforts of suggestion 1.
If you throw in a few diverse folks into the lineup last minute (which right now would be super awkward for anyone to accept), its not going to do shit for you because it just shows how poorly planned the conference was.
Just cancel, its an online conference LOL. Its not like you have paid sponsors, or physical costs.
I say "cancel" instead of "reschedule" because lets signify we are doing a "hard refresh". Let's plan for Serverless Conference 2.0 and there are other things you need to do first before you even think about doing a conference.
First ask yourself, Why did you end up with an all-male lineup?
This is what I'm thinking you're thinking:
"We wanted to focus on emerging serverless devtools and we wanted to go as expert as we could in each respected tool so their collective voice would tell you Serverless is Ready. Why is it our fault they're all dudes? Thats all we could get"
But dudes (and I know you're dudes) listen.
The bar to expert is low, (I know this for sure) because:
- I make a course on Terraform, now I'm Terraform expert
- I run a single workshop on K8s now I'm a K8s expert
- I do a Twitter-Space panel on GCP I'm now a GCP expert
- I do fast-track talk on Security at a local meetup and I'm a AWS Security expert
You can flip or uplift basically anyone into an expert within a couple of good event opportunities.
Why aren't their more PoC, Womxn or Neurodivergent or etc if its so easy to become an expert?
Because many of our legacy "expert making" spaces where folks are flipped into experts are not inclusive or conducive for these folks.
When we pull from the most "expert of experts" the folks that have had years to climb the track are going to be overwhelming males.
Why is your network not diverse? Thats on you.
You can go on Twitter search #BlackTechTwitter and start filling your feed with folks that don't look like you and figure it out from there.
Its not a fast process it honestly could take 6 months to 2 years.
This is why you haven't seen me put on an online conference, because I want to have this stuff in place before I do anything.
If there is open Call For Proposal (CFP) I sure is heck didn't see it.
Have this at least 3 months out and ensure folks know about it.
Make it really easy for folks and tell exactly what you want.
Ruby always done a great job of this:
When I'm running my AWS User Group I start each event with clear table steaks about creating an inclusive space.
- I let neurodiverse folks know there is is a private channel of communication to me so they can for future accommodation so the events are inclusive for them
- I let women know they don't need to go on-camera or that I will not tolerant unwanted attention from other community members
- I let beginner know I'm not going to put up with the "back-of-the-room" "uh actually" stumper questions that make the idea of being a speaker such an anxiety-enduced experience
- I let speakers know I provide 1-on-1 private sessions prior to events to help them maximize their outcome to get flipped to "expert"
Tell folks upfront, what are going to do to make this conference/event thing work for everyone?
If this too much work for you, sorry you should not be running a conference.
Its like folks thinking they can run their own Twitter Clone or Social media but they don't want to bother with Content Moderation and Trust of Safety lol.
If you try and build that network, if you trying to signal to folks this space is safe for your conference or event, but you aren't get anywhere, then instead of doing your own thing, contribute and learn with other folks that are doing it better than you.
ServerlessDays has done better, so be part of their community, until you can get traction on your own and try to match suite yourself or do better.
Nobody likes facing the folks that "called them out" but sometimes these folks turn out to be the best folks you can turn into allies.
Don't expect them to do the work for you, since educating and doing the leg work yourself is your responsibly, but if they're open to letting you listen and they want to do more, it can be great (especially decide to put on a conference again)
So reach out privately (or publicly) to the folks that called you out, offer personalized apologies and see where it goes from there.
✌️ ❤️ I'm hoping this provides a positive outcome to anyone running a conference. Peace and love everyone
❤️🔥 💬 I haven't ran a conference myself, so anyone who wants to "tap in" here with more experience than me and light up the comments lets hear it!