The 7th API Strategy and Practice Conference happened last week. While I wasn't fully engaged throughout the planning process for this edition, due to my summer being disrupted, I wanted to take the time to share some of what happened to make it more of an inclusive technology event. There are a lot of people who are "interested" in making their events more diverse and inclusive, but APIStrat is "committed" to this (thanks, Charles Ashley III). Here's some of what we did.
- Strong female lead. Put a woman in charge. Period. She will set a good tone.
- Invite women to speak. Work to only invite women when getting started.
- Invite people of color to speak. Work to only invite people of color when getting started.
- Have a code of conduct. Make sure there is a well-communicated code of conduct present.
- Enforce code of conduct. Sadly, we had to do this round, but it sets the right tone.
- Panels: Do not have any panels where you only have men.
- Numbers: Know your numbers and work every moment to increase them wherever you can.
- Repeat and rinse. Repeat all of this at all levels, session chairs, keynotes, reg counter, etc.
We are nowhere near where we want to be with making #APIStrat a truly inclusive event, but we are making improvements each time it's held. We have our checklist and have been building on it with each event. It takes a leadership team that is committed to this. Steve, Lorinda, Amelia, and the team delivered this round — I wish I could take credit. I saw more women, diverse faces, and topics at #APIStrat this round, leaving me very pleased.
If you are running a tech conference, please put in the extra work. You can't just give this 5% or 10% effort. You literally have to invite no white men to your event for the first couple of waves of outreach. You need to do some serious homework on the women and people of color who are making an impact across the space. If you do the work and set the right tone, the benefits will go far beyond just being able to pat yourself on the back; the ideas and conversations will be richer for it.