Sep 1, 2020 - Economy & Business

All Raise launches push to help avoid "manels" at tech conferences

A screenshot of All Raise's homepage.
Screenshot: AllRaise.org

All Raise, a nonprofit that aims to boost gender diversity in tech and venture capital, is launching a speakers' bureau designed to get more women and non-binary people on stage at technology and business conferences.

Why it matters: All too often, tech conferences are dominated by male speakers and all-male panels — or "manels." By one estimate, only 25% of tech conference speakers are women. And while conferences have shifted online, the gender and race dynamics haven't changed.

Details: The group says it already has more than 1,000 founders, investors and operating executives in its "Visionary Voices" database and aims to recruit more.

  • It's also looking for conference organizers and media organizations that want to partner in the effort.

The big picture: It's more than just gender balance. According to a report from tech services firm Ensono, 68% of tech conference speakers are white men, with women of color making up just 14% of keynote speakers.

What they're saying: There's a big role for men to play too in solving the problem, All Raise CEO Pam Kostka told Axios.

  • Kostka said men who are invited to speak at a conference should press organizers on the event's diversity and who is speaking, insist on being part of a gender-balanced panel and also consider recommending someone else from an underrepresented group.
  • "Male allies are an extremely important part of this given that they currently hold the microphone," Kostka said.
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