Inclusivity at React London 2017

Mid last year Red Badger decided it was time for a React conference in London. We’ve been hosting the React London meetups for almost 3 years but we’ve never managed an event as big as a conference.

One of the things we have discussed A LOT as a team is how to make the conference as inclusive as possible. We actually started off discussing how to achieve diversity but concluded that what we were discussing was better summed up as inclusivity. Simply put, everyone is welcome; welcome to ask questions about the conference, welcome to submit a talk proposal and welcome to attend on the day.

So what have we done as newbie conference organisers to ensure everyone feels welcome?

  1. We have created a set of opportunity tickets” which are free of charge. We hated the idea that money would a barrier to anyone attending, so we invited people to apply for these free tickets and tell us a bit about their journey with React so far so we can try and find those who will really benefit from attending.
  2. We encouraged our community to send us their suggestions regarding how we could make the conference a success for everyone via a call to action on the website and our mailing list.
  3. We have chosen a venue that is fully accessible and asked all ticket holders if they need any specific help on the day as part of the ticket purchase process.
  4. We have partnered with DevelopHER, an organisation that supports women in tech. We can’t magically balance the gender split of the industry with one conference but we can ensure that women know they will be welcome and their needs will be considered at the conference whether they are an attendee, a sponsor or a speaker.
  5. We ran a meetup specifically tailored to people just starting out with React to encourage them to join the community so we can support them.
  6. We have kept the call for paper submission process anonymous. The talks will be selected based on the merit of the synopsis alone.
  7. We have directly contacted people we would like to see speak at the conference and encouraged them to submit a proposal.
  8. We have offered to support anyone who would like some help shaping their ideas and putting their talk proposal together. We hoped this would encourage people who were less experienced at public speaking to submit their ideas
  9. We have included some lightning talks in the conference programme; 30 minutes might seem a bit daunting to some but a 10 minute lightning talk could be a good opportunity for someone, who again isn’t an experienced public speaker.
  10. We have a straight forward code of conduct for the event- if anyone doesn’t act accordingly we will take action to quickly address the issue.

Ensuring the conference is as inclusive as possible is really important to the team at Red Badger, we hope we’ve come up with a successful plan; if you have any suggestions we’d love to hear them! As I mentioned, it’s our first conference so we are still learning.

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