Softwire Technology, Women in Engineering Society and the 30% Club have join forces to launch a pledge aimed at stamping out the lack of diversity in speaker lineups and panels at technology events.

The Minimum Viable Diversity Pledge aims to ensure that speakers are represented from marginalised groups, including women, people of colour, people with disabilities and members of the LGBT community.

There are four pledges, for speakers, attendees, events themselves, and companies, so everybody can get involved:

  • Speaker: I will never speak at any paid conferences or panels as part of a homogeneous group of speakers.
  • Attendee: I will never attend any paid conferences or panels with a homogeneous group of speakers.
  • Event: We will never organise an event lineup or panel with a homogeneous group of speakers.
  • Company: We will never sponsor or organise paid conferences or panels with a homogeneous group of speakers, we will strongly encourage our employees not to attend or speak at such events, and we’ll support them in raising diversity concerns with events directly.

In the Minimum Viable Diversity pledge it explains: “Professional events need to be inclusive, by representing a diverse range of speakers. That way everybody can be involved with and inspired by the cutting edge of their field. Too many events though don’t represent any diversity at all.

“We want to take concrete steps to fix this from the bottom up. We want to end totally homogeneous events, and we need your help.

A statement from Softwire Technology said: “Diversity matters at Softwire, and we want to do everything we can to improve this. Today with the help of the Women in Engineering Society and the 30% Club we’re launching a new initiative to take a concrete step forwards on event diversity.

The goal of the Minimum Viable Diversity Pledge is to totally stop the worst offenders for speaker diversity. By pledging, you’re committing to never actively supporting a paid event or panel that includes zero diversity whatsoever. This is a minimum bar, and we’d encourage people to go further, but the low bar is key.

The world we’re aiming for here is one where every event organiser gets at least two or three of their speakers accept their invite on the condition that there’s at least some diversity in their lineup, along with attendees checking there’ll be at least some diversity included before they buy tickets. Once that happens, you can’t run an event without thinking about diversity, and you can’t host a lineup filled with a range of identical voices without a few of them publically dropping out. This won’t solve diversity overnight, but does make life far more difficult for those who totally ignore it, and provides steady pressure on every event to actively put in at least a little effort towards this issue.”

You can sign the pledge here.