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