PASS Data Community Summit aims to create an inclusive conference and foster a community where everyone can succeed and thrive. We’re committed to creating an environment that values diversity, promotes an inclusive culture, and establishes a profound sense of belonging for every member of our community.
It’s really important to us that Summit reflects the diversity of the data community. With this in mind, we set ourselves a target for the year, aiming for 40% of our 2023 speakers to come from underrepresented groups. It was possible to measure this using the voluntary self-identification data that speakers share about their gender, ethnicity and disability status as part of the submission process.
Out of the 231 confirmed speakers, moderators and panellists at this year’s Summit, 221 answered one or more of the voluntary DEIB questions. Where a prospective speaker didn’t fill out this section at all, we assumed they’re not from an underrepresented background. After making these considerations, we calculated a known speaker diversity of 32% for 2023.
While there’s clearly more work to be done to reach our goals here, our aim is to be transparent about our intentions and progress. We are also aware these measures are limited by how much information is willingly shared, disclosing this information was voluntary, as we didn’t want potential speakers to feel they must submit information they’re uncomfortable sharing. Going into 2024, we will continue to adapt our processes for better inclusivity.
In addition to speaker diversity, we wanted to provide an inclusive event experience for all attendees. This year we have made sure there are accessible, gender-neutral bathrooms available, with signage signalling the bathroom is for everyone. We also made all our graphics and signage designed with color blindness in mind, including braille signage which will be available outside all session rooms. If an attendee requires an ASL (American Sign Language) interpreter, we’ll work with them to provide this. There will also be two wheelchairs (in different sizes) available for attendees and speakers, plus wheelchair-accessible ramps to the keynote stage (and one other speaking stage) for speakers.
In 2022, we formed a Summit diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) steering group made up of DEIB advocates and trusted experts from our community. This group currently consists of Annette Allen, Ben Weissman, Deepthi Goguri, Mala Mahadevan, Tracy Boggiano, Sanil Mhatre, Jemma Hunter and Cecilia Judmann, and it exists to act as a sounding board and review or propose ways to improve diversity and inclusion at Summit.
For example, this August, the steering group reviewed the call for speakers and session selection processes for 2024, to explore ways of encouraging more submissions from underrepresented groups and ensure our process is fair, inclusive and continuously evolving.
There’s always more that could be done to improve diversity and inclusion at events like Summit and we’d love to hear your recommendations. If you’ve got a suggestion for improvements we can make in 2024 and beyond, we’d love to hear your views – please share this as part of your overall feedback about the 2023 event.
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