Practical ideas to hold a diverse and inclusive panel

I wanted to write down all the practical ideas to hold a diverse and inclusive panel, because inclusion and diversity is always easier when you plan it ahead of time.

If you have read the 15 minute introduction to Diversity and Inclusion in workplaces, these suggestions will seem eerily familiar! This is because when I write frameworks, I want them to be easily re-usable in multiple situations.

Centre marginalised perspectives in your social media

If you aren’t already plugged into the right networks, it can be tough to know who is out there and if they would be willing to be on your panel.

This is why you have to centre marginalised perspectives early and often. So that when you are faced with this situation you can tap into your networks.

It becomes easier to know how to navigate through the complexity of intersectional marginalisation when you see how it plays out in real time every day through your social networks.

Invite strategically

How can you make it diverse if you don’t really know what diversity looks like?

This is where something like the Intersectionality Spectrum can help. The more you amplify the voices to your right, the more you are helping to balance the perspectives being played out in society. Remember, you can build your own Intersectionality Spectrum to be contextual into your place and time.

bar graph that is increasing in value with logos in each column showing inclusion and degree of difficulty
Intersectionality Spectrum that helps you understand the degree of difficulty that people face but also allows you to plan ahead to work out who you should invite.


Have a budget

This is key. Even when you have an opportunity to share your perspective, it can come at a physical, emotional, and financial cost. One of the least things that you can do is to compensate your panel for their time, especially if they are do not have a “personal brand”.


Make the event accessible

Whether it is a physical, virtual or hybrid event, make sure that it is accessible – especially for those at the far right of your Intersectionality Spectrum.

Even though there are things that can allow you to check – nothing beats lived experience. So having people in the panel or having organisers who need accessibility becomes a big advantage.


Minimise triggers for people from marginalised groups

Creating a safe space for people from marginalised groups is not easy. It is important to have a code of conduct and strict moderation of comments and questions. To do this you need a strong facilitator to ensure that any harm is minimised (risk cannot be removed completely).

When you are running a conference or any other bigger event, you need more support in place and you need to plan that with the communities that you are hoping to invite.

This can also be done by not asking people to relive their trauma. When we did the Missing Narratives panel for OctobeRSE, we tried to work around this by asking the panel to focus on positive stories. We found that even when we did this it was still emotionally challenging for our panelists.

Empathy is key

At the end of the day,  if we want to build strong communities, we need to create safe places for those to share their stories. To do this, we need organisers who understand the challenges and have empathy to ensure people can be authentic.

I am 100% sure I have missed some other key areas, so this will get updated as I think of things.

What do you think I have missed?