Non-male charity sector conference speaker list gets off to strong start

Great Charity Speakers has been set up by Mandy Johnson, chief executive of the Small Charities coalition

A list of non-male charity sector conference speakers drawn up on Friday to improve diversity in event line-ups has already been joined by more than 150 people.

The Great Charity Speakers list was set up on Friday afternoon by Mandy Johnson, chief executive of the Small Charities Coalition, as a resource for people who are looking for possible conference speakers who do not identify as male.

The list also highlights potential speakers who do not identify as white in order to improve the racial diversity of speakers at sector conferences.

The list is hosted on a free Wordpress site, but Johnson has launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to upgrade the list’s website and to increase engagement with the project. At noon today the campaign had raised £199 of its £250 goal.

The list was sparked by a request from Third Sector editor Andy Hillier for suggestions of possible speakers for Third Sector’s annual fundraising conference, which takes place on 22 and 23 May.

Johnson told Third Sector: "I’m frequently asked to speak at events and I’m often the only woman who is speaking.

"When I ask why there are no other women or people who are not white involved, what I usually get back is a range of excuses as to why it’s too difficult for conference organisers to get a diverse range of speakers.

"This list will help to get rid of that excuse."

She acknowledged there was a diversity problem within the sector itself – that there were too few women or non-white people in leadership roles – but said the response to her list demonstrated that, despite this, there were people available to speak at conferences if they were invited.

Johnson said she wanted to make it clear that the point of the list was not to call for white men to be denied the chance to speak at conferences, but simply to increase the number of opportunities available for women.

"The reaction we’ve had shows that there are many people who agree with me about the need to foster diversity through seeing a range of speakers at conferences," she said.

"Increasing diversity will mean we can include a diverse range of voices, cultures and ideas in the discussions we’re having."

For more information on the fundraising conference, which is part of Third Sector’s Fundraising Week, click here.

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