Legal librarian and tech leader, Sarah Glassmeyer shared that she logged into Twitter last week to find another legal tech conference with all male panels.
Glassmeyer presumably was referring to ALM’s Legalweek Show, long known as Legaltech show. The first session I sat in, a pretty good one on AI, was six men, no women
I then noticed the keynote speakers being advertised on large screens. I shared on Twitter that of the sixteen keynote speakers only three were women.
— Kevin O'Keefe (@kevinokeefe) January 30, 2018
ALM’s response to my tweet and another discussing the lack of diversity was to point out there were “several women speakers” throughout their show, drawing over 10,000 people. I have to believe they were saying that there were several women speakers throughout each of the separate tracks, as opposed to throughout the conference.
— ALM Media (@ALMMedia) January 30, 2018
No matter ALM’s Legalweek Show, there’s a problem. Per Glassmeyer.
We have either one of two problems here. Either the conference organizers didn’t do due diligence in finding diverse panels to speak at their conference OR there simply aren’t diverse people making legal tech. The former is bad, but the latter is devastating.
Rather than complain, Glassmeyer is taking action.
I’m crowdsourcing a list of legal tech and innovation people from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds. As of this writing, there’s about 50 people listed. Feel free to add yourself. If you’re planning a conference, please consult it and diversify your speaker line up. If you’re hiring, reach out to the people on the list and ask them to apply or distribute the job ad to their networks.
Glassmeyer suggests (and I am with her):
- Refuse to speak on non-diverse panels.
- Offer to give up your slot to a diverse individual. Have suggestions ready (Another way this list might come in handy.)
- Insist that any conference you speak at or attend has a code of conduct. Here’s a great starting point for one. And yes, your conference needs one.
- Speak out about the need for diversity. This can’t be a battle only fought by underrepresented populations. Some CIS het White men need to take up the banner. I know some of you just rolled your eyes at the phrase “CIS Het White Men.” Get over it.
I’ll add another, when you see panels and programs lacking diversity, take some pictures and share them on Twitter. Let the conference host respond.
Five or six years ago I was asked by the Practicing Law Institute to put together two all day programs on social media and blogging. The first thing I was handed were the diversity requirements for reach panel and the entire program. It’s obvious other conferences are not following PLI’s lead — or at least not enforcing any diversity policies they may have.
I speak a fair amount and I don’t recall the diversity of all the legal tech programs and, if I was on a panel, the diversity of each of the panels. The best I recall is that the programs and panels were mostly white men.
We may be bringing tech and innovation to the law, but some things are not changing, as Will Hornsby commented to a picture I shared tweet from a future of law conference in London in November.
— Will Hornsby (@willhornsby) November 18, 2017
Glassmeyer’s right, time to stop complaining and time to start demanding diversity in legal tech conference speakers.