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Bright Idea: Seeking diverse voices

Recognizing the need for more diversity in the industry, the IGDA Foundation – an organization for game developers that strives for inclusivity – recently announced the Speaker Diversity Initiative.

“All too often, the speakers at game development events (and tech events in general) are overwhelmingly white men,” the foundation says. “The lack of diversity in public speaking reinforces, and compounds, the perception that the thought leaders in the industry are almost exclusively white men; in reality, many women, people of color and other members of under-represented minorities are overlooked for speaking opportunities because of confirmation bias and professional networks.”

The most recent survey IGDA Foundation conducted found 78 percent of game developers are men. But an even larger percentage of speakers are men, and very few are men of color.

The initiative has two components: the Speaker Diversity Networkand the Speaker Diversity Grant. The network allows event planners in the industry to search for under-represented speakers and it isn’t publicly available. The grant program provides under-represented speakers with financial assistance when a conference or event doesn’t pay for travel.

“It may seem like a small thing, to see speakers at an event who look like you or sound like you,” said Jen MacLean, managing director. “But when we see excellence in people of all genders, of all races, of all ages and ethnicities, of all sexual orientations, we see excellence in our community. When every person is given the opportunity to make their voice heard-on stages and platforms that reach hundreds or thousands of their peers-our community is stronger.”

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