I’m pretty much done with tech events, awards, and conferences. Not because they’re boring; most of the time they are actually quite interesting. Some, like TNW, Angel Island, and Pirate Summit, are amazing and my absolute all-time favorites. Here’s why I’m fed up with them.
It has more to do with diversity: in general, tech events tend to be one gigantic sausage fest, attendee-wise.
But often, it’s worse: the nominees, jury members, or panelists are all white males, full stop.
Look, I’m not a social justice warrior or part of the policor movement. My wife’s a feminist so that basically makes me one (that was a joke people, don’t forget to laugh every now and then). There might even be a good reason for it; at Silicon Canals we get significantly fewer pitches from female entrepreneurs than from male.
Nevertheless, I’m tired of lame excuses.
Last year I decided I wanted to do something about it. For the events we organize, we’re making an extra effort to have as much of a diverse group as possible. Because, apparently, that’s really, really necessary. It’s hard work – believe me.
That wasn’t enough for me. I have a new rule that I’m upholding, whenever I receive an invite to a tech event. I’ll check the speaker program. Jury members. The panel(s). If it has less than 20 percent ‘diversity’, I am not coming.
If I’m invited to a panel or a jury, I’ll insist that it has a diverse blend of people. Otherwise, no Mr. Remco Janssen present.
It’s not just A rule. It’s now my number one rule. Make your tech event diverse, or I’m not coming. Period.
It shouldn’t be just my number one rule; it should be yours too.
Image: me (red cap) in a panel during this year’s Angel Island. Without Ayelet Noff, center, it would have been a panel solely consisting of white, middle-aged, bearded, four-eyed males. She helped review this article by the way (thanks!).