A practical tool to help boost the number of women speakers at charity conferences has been crowdsourced in just over a day. The Great Charity Speakers list presents charity conference organisers with a list of “fabulous, female speakers from the charity sector”.
The list was suggested by Mandy Johnson, who is CEO of the Small Charities Coalition.
On Friday evening she tweeted about the need for more diversity in charity conference speakers, asking for suggestions for a list of “brilliant speakers from the charity sector who are not white & male”.
It has come to my attention that we need to provide conference organisers with a list of brilliant speakers from the charity sector who are not white & male (sorry guys – but they've got you covered in abundance). So, I am pulling together the list for them. Who should I include?
— Mandy Johnson (@MsMandyJ) April 6, 2018
The appeal attracted rapid attention and plenty of replies. Johnson spent the rest of that evening trying to keep up with responses and producing the list. She has published “Great Charity Speakers” and updated it with new suggestions. It now has over 140 names featured.
The value of such a list beyond conference organisers was evidently recognised, given the number of individuals and organisations sharing the request for suggestions:
— Assoc. of Volunteer Managers (@AVMtweets) April 7, 2018
Women who inspire
The responses included individuals, with explanations about why they deserved to be on the list.
— TimeBank (@timebank) April 7, 2018
Some contributors also highlighted women who had inspired or supported them in their charity career:
@SusiePoppitt, she is my reason for working in the charity sector. An amazing lady with a wealth of knowledge and experiences.
— jo moss (@Jomoss_cruk) April 7, 2018
Women speakers at upcoming conferences
Johnson’s request also yielded details of upcoming conferences and events that already featured a good number of women speakers.
Start with you! Then @AmickyCarol @rachel_hunny @LouFarnell @EmilyCasson @CharityNikki @mariepeacock @Julie_Roberts1 @AmberConsults @YorkSue @rebecca_curtis @sarahleadership – all of whom can be seen @IoFYorkshire Conference in May! https://t.co/CSSAsaDkZD
— Kate Carroll (@katercarroll) April 6, 2018
— Mrs DB (@ADanellsBewley) April 7, 2018
The initiative has also raised related issues and challenges:
Side issue that this discussion has raised for me: there is also a need to support great women who have something useful to say in gaining those presentation skills and presentation confidence. Not necessarily to be included in your work but an issue nonetheless.
— Beth Upton (@Beth_Upton) April 7, 2018
Thanks. At the moment the list is specific to people who work/volunteer for charities. I am noting down great names from social enterprises privately but these have not been included yet as I want to remain focused. Hope that makes sense?
— Mandy Johnson (@MsMandyJ) April 7, 2018
Plenty of non-male, non-white and actually often young, experienced innovative speakers for conferences are available, so what's the excuse? Yes to adding diversity to the sector 💥 thank you to Mandy for pulling this together! https://t.co/BuPS4h0C50
— Paige Hughes (@PaigeComms) April 8, 2018
A useable list
Johnson was careful to acknowledge fluidity in how people define their gender or ethnicity. She has therefore divided her list into two sections:
- those “do not identify themselves as white or male”
- and those “white people who do not identify as male”
There is currently a dominance of speakers with Twitter profiles but that is more a reflection of where Johnson first asked for suggestions. Other names are being suggested on charity sector Facebook discussion groups.
Johnson told UK Fundraising that she is keen to make the list as useful for conference organisers as possible. She has already divided its members into different skills and areas, to indicate why individuals have been recommended for inclusion.
As a result you can now find women CEOs and founders, finance experts, fundraising experts, service delivery experts, CSR experts, digital and tech experts, and more. Of course plenty of individuals could be listed in multiple categories so Johnson is considering how best to present this.
Some contributors helped in this process by highlighting why people were being recommended:
Engaged in producing our national reports:@mafemarwick , Margaret McNulty (@CollectiveMarg) (Scot); Gaby Murphy (@PurplegrassIE) (Ire); Simona Biancu (@ENGAGED_in) (Italy); @LeahEustace; @ligiafpena, Lisa Glave (not on Twitter) (Canada); @BOReillyWHC; @pjbarden; (USA)
— Rogare (@RogareFTT) April 7, 2018
General critical thinkers (plus specialism if relevant):@ClaireyJaneR – legacies @meredithniles – ethics/behavioural science
Heather McGinness (not on Twitter) – ethics
Jess Burgess (not on Twitter) – ethics/philanthropic psychology@ShepardAmanda13 – organisational culture
— Rogare (@RogareFTT) April 7, 2018
She acknowledges “It’s not perfect but it is a start” and she adds: “Please help me make it better.” She’s also been careful to build the list herself and not to open it up at this stage to multiple authors, to avoid possible trolls and attempts to damage the initiative.
Other supportive initiatives
The list is novel and should have been produced many years ago. The dominance of male and white speakers at many charity sector conferences has been plain to see.
Some event organisers have made progress in the area, and responses to the list announcement highlighted related developments, such as the I will not be part of male-only panels Pledge and the similar Manpanels pledge.
Your list is helpful. There are a few sector people who've signed up to the pledge not to be on all male panels & are challenging conference organisers when invited like @piterk68 @m_sherrington @howardlake @pauldegregorio as an example of inclusion rider https://t.co/UVNMxQDqgb
— Tania Cohen (@TaniaNC) April 7, 2018
No more excuses
However, as Johnson makes clear, her list is designed to change and expand the voices, the examples, and the inspiration that charity conferences present.
In introducing the Great Charity Speakers list she explains: “Too many times I am told that it is hard to find good speakers in the charity sector who aren’t male and/or white. I want to rid conference organisers of that excuse.”
Let's make sure "I couldn't find anyone" can't be used as an excuse for not having diversity on stage at our conferences. https://t.co/s9JY60dMZb
— Beate Sørum (@BeateSorum) April 7, 2018
Just be careful how you use the list…
A useful list and you get bonus points if you don’t position the ask as “we don’t have any women on our panel, are you free?”. My favourite type of email. https://t.co/IXpwzy7HHi
— Ruth Hunt (@ruth_hunt) April 8, 2018
Main image: Women in fundraising leadership panel at IoF Fundraising Convention 2017
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