We’ve been talking about diversity — more diverse organizing teams, more diverse speaker rosters, more diverse contributor groups — and most everyone wants to help us grow in that area. Where we fall down is people not knowing how to get there. To that end, based on the success of the Philly Tech Week Diversity Mixer, I asked @liljimmi to work on a how-to guide for throwing a diversity mixer, with the thought that local wp meetups could throw similar events. She got together with some of the organizers last weekend and they put together a draft, which she shared with me. The thing that stood out was that it had a lot of how-to on planning a party, but only a couple of lines on how to do the outreach to diverse communities to get people interested. Tracy and I talked about ways to build out that section, and are thinking the best way to answer sensitive questions is to have people ask them.
So! If Andrea were to tell you, “There should be a diverse group of people working together to choose speakers,” or, “I really need you to work on the diversity of your speaker roster this year,” what questions would run through your mind?
Add as many questions as you can think of in the comments, and that will provide a starting point for building an FAQ, and possibly language/email templates that could be used for cold-call outreach. Don’t try to censor yourself here. Say things as bluntly as you would feel them, so we can create an FAQ that addresses real situations. Post all the questions you would have, even if someone else already did, so that we can also see which questions are the most frequently asked. (Ha)
- I don’t know anyone who’s [from an underrepresented group]. How do I meet those people?
- If I go to a Blogging While Black meetup event to try and meet some people, won’t I (as a white person) be accused of invading their space?
- What’s the best way to contact people without inserting myself where I assume I’m not wanted/welcome?
- How do I ask someone to get involved in a way that doesn’t tokenize them?
- Could you tell me what to say when I’m contacting a person [from an underrepresented group] about getting involved so I don’t say something that’s inadvertently insensitive/racist/ableist/sexist/etc?
- How much of this kind of outreach should be public vs private?
- If I reach out to someone and they don’t reply, if I try again or even three times, is that being persistent because we all know that email piles up, or am I harassing someone that isn’t interested?
- If someone in my group starts ranting about quotas and affirmative action, do you have language I can use to
shut them up allay their concerns and convince them of the importance of diversity outreach?