List of charity speakers ‘who are not white and male’ published

First published: 10 Apr 2018

Mandy Johnson, the chief executive of the Small Charities Coalition, has published a list of non-male charity sector conference speakers.

Johnson drew up her initial list last Friday, after posting on Twitter that it had “come to my attention that we need to provide conference organisers with a list of brilliant speakers from the charity sector who are not white and male”.

At the time of publishing the list features over 150 speakers divided between those “who do not identify themselves as white or male” and “white people who do not identify as male”.

The list is further sub-divided into area of expertise, including “academic experts”, “chief execs, exec directors and founders”, “fundraising experts” and “service delivery experts”.

In the preface to the list, Johnson wrote: “Too many times I am told that it is hard to find good speakers in the charity sector who aren’t male and/or white. I want to rid conference organisers of that excuse.”

Johnson has continued to ask for more recommendations from people from the sector on Twitter, tweeting a link to a form that people can complete.

The list is currently hosted on a free WordPress site, but Johnson has also launched a GoFundMe fundraising page to “upgrade” the site, which she said would allow her to “add a few features to the website and use it to continue to engage people with this conversation”.

The page has now raised £320 of its stated £400 goal. Johnson said that if more than £480 is raised, “any additional funds will be donated to the Small Charities Coalition”.

Speaking to Civil Society News, Johnson said: “The list is far from perfect at the moment. There are lots of great people missing from it and many more ways it could be developed to make it better but it is a start. I am also aware that there have been requests for changes to highlight people for different reasons, such as all of the brilliant disabled speakers who are often absent from charity conferences.

“I have been overwhelmed by the response that I have received to this list and apologise that I haven’t been able to respond to everyone who has contacted me so far. I really appreciate everyone’s support and would welcome offers from anyone who would like to volunteer to support the list’s development and maintenance.”



Why am I doing this?

A little while ago I made the difficult decision to step down from the Committee of Charity Women. Charity Women is a brilliant group of people who are trying to address the gender inequalities that exist in the charity sector. I absolutely believe in their mission but didn’t feel like I had enough time for my family, my job, my trustee roles whilst giving Charity Women the time and attention it deserves.

I learnt a lot by being part of the group. One thing that really stayed with me was the importance of asking who else is going to be on the panel ,or on the speaker list, when I am asked to speak at events. I have got into the habit of saying “as long as I’m not the only woman” and/or “I will speak if you can make sure that there are people who are not-white speaking at the event”.

I have nothing against white men, I have learnt a lot from my Dad, my husband, my male friends and peers. I am also a huge fan of Johnny Depp and Postman Pat. Yet I believe that I cannot become the best I can be unless I am exposed to the knowledge, skills and expertise of a diverse range of people with different views, experiences, cultures, perspectives and ways of working. I also know that if all we see are white men speaking at conferences, then it is harder for people who aren’t male and/or white to recognise that they can and should be thought-leaders too. That is why I ask the awkward questions when I am asked to speak at an event.

The response that I get is mixed. Most people see me as a pain for asking the question. I get excuses for why the conference organiser believes it’s not possible, sometimes I never hear anything back, more frequently I am asked for recommendations of great female, non-white experts in the field. Essentially, because the conference speakers do not have a pool of people who aren’t male and/or white to reach out to, I have made their life harder. As a result, my ridiculous request is delivered back to me as something I need to help with.

The good news is, I am happy to help. I want conference organisers to be aware that there is a huge pool of talented speakers across the charity sector who aren’t male and are not all white.

That is why I have created this website. I want to provide a place that conference organisers from the charity sector can discover the brilliant speakers who deserve to have their voices heard.

“I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort, where we overlap.” – Ani DiFranco