This is what diversity looks like

This is what diversity looks like. The question is … are you ready for it?

When it comes to diversity and events … expectations are high and judgement even higher. In fact it’s not uncommon to see the vigilantes come out on LinkedIn, virtual pitchforks in tow, ready to slay the all male panel which is pitched as “the best experts available”.

In 2021 we rightly expect both equal and diverse representation. The days of the manel (all male panel) are done.

But as we strive for more diverse representation on our stages, we are forced to wander … are we ready for it.

Because diversity does not simply mean a human in a skirt or a person of Indigenous background presenting the same content in the same manner that you have become accustomed to hearing.

That is not diversity.

A truly diverse program line up does not only mean seeing different people on stage. It also means hearing diverse presentation styles and messages that may differ from your ‘norm’.

Perhaps you will hear from a speaker who, despite their expertise, is facing mental health challenges and had a very different perspective on work and life.

Perhaps the Indigenous speaker offers a confronting perspective that challenges your personal beliefs.

Perhaps the speaker on stage is a little more junior than you consider appropriate and you automatically dismiss their opinion.

Or, shock horror, perhaps, a speaker is presenting an idea which is simply a little weird and out there.

We say great!

All of these possibilities are not something we concede in our mission for diversity – they are the benefits of diversity! When we present in diverse ways, from diverse life perspectives, we have the opportunity to reach and connect with different members of the audience. In this case, the digital innovation ecosystem.

If you truly expect a diverse speaker lineup, you can’t expect the same white male presentations that have always been delivered.

Diverse speakers, will bring diverse presentation styles, they will bring diverse ideas and the they may just see the world a little differently to you.

And yes, we acknowledge this sounds like a very obvious statement when read in black and white. Yet, when all is said and done, it is often the very same vigilantes who demanded more diversity on stage who are most irked when the delivery is not up to their traditional expectations.

At Something Digital, diversity on stage has always been core to our mission. We have always, very openly, ensured we have had gender balance on stage.

In fact, of the 231 speakers who have graced our stages since 2018, 52% of them are female. An achievement we are exceptionally proud of, and one that has not happened by accident (particularly in the technology and innovation space).

This year, we took it a step further by openly and actively ensuring that our diversity went beyond gender balance.

In fact, our 2021 festival-line up was our most diverse ever.

Beyond gender balance, we had a high representation of Indigenous speakers as well as queer, transgender and non-binary people as well as many different racial backgrounds.

Every single speaker that takes to the Something Digital stage, does so because they were an expert on the topic at hand. We give all our speakers a no filter license, and whilst diversity requires ongoing effort, we are exceptionally proud of what we have achieved n 4 short years.

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