Having been a community organizer in several regards over the years, a common question I am asked is "How do I run an event?". To which I respond, "Here is how I run an inclusive event". My intent is not to sound smart when I insert the emphasis on inclusivity, but to highlight inclusivity as the overarching theme when building community.
What do I mean when I say inclusivity?
When we discuss inclusivity, you may hear it bundled in such phrases as "diversity and inclusion" or "diversity, inclusion, and belonging". Inclusivity, as I understand it, cannot occur without consideration to the diversity or belonging of its community members. Inclusivity relies on both the rich, diverse backgrounds (e.g. ethnicity, country of origin, language, sexuality) of its members but more importantly on the extent that those members have a sense of acceptance and belonging.
To put it in other terms, "diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance" (as I heard it described at PyCon Colombia 2018).
Community building begins with inclusion
Here's a list of things I have developed over the years, with the full acknowledgement that some of these at times can be aspirational:
- Host at a venue that ADA compliant
- Ensure presenters create presentations with accessibility in mind
- Require that the host venue use RSVPed names bypassing the need to use a name on an ID (as these are often out of sync anyway)
- Have a clearly placed Code of Conduct on the community page (e.g. see our about section), kicking off each event with a reminder to the Code of Conduct and to seek organizers if there are any questions/concerns/feedback
- Introduce myself at the start of each event with my name and pronouns (ideally having some mechanism for attendees to mark pronouns such as on name tags if worn) to set community norms
Additionally, I highly recommend that all organizers participate in a Code of Conduct training, learning how to respond to incident reports and brainstorming ways to develop procedure if one is lacking or incomplete. There are several groups, such as Otter Tech, that offer training as well as many resources available online.
If you are seeking likeminded organizers to discuss inclusivity with the Mozilla Diverstiy and Inclusion for COmmunities and Contributors group is a rich community with an email list for discussion and semi-frequent scheduled calls to discuss specific topics.
How we can do better?
As inclusivisity is always a work in progress, I actively solicit feedback by asking, "How can we do better?".
What tools, community norms and practices, requirements do you use when hosting an inclusive event?
Ultimately, how can we do better?