Friday, August 18, 2017

Making a Wrong Right

I've coached my share of awesome speakers to get started in speaking. That makes me a frequent mentor. I'm also an infrequent sponsor, and would love to find possibilities to make that more common.

This week, one of my mentees spoke up in a group of women in testing about a challenge she was facing in speaking. She had been selected to speak at EuroSTAR, which is a #PayToSpeak conference meaning you pay your own travel + stay. When planning for the conference, she had made plans with her company support, but things changed and that was retracted.

She was considering her options. Cancelling, but that seemed hard after all the program was already out. Showing up just for the talk to minimize the cost. And that was pretty much it.

She asked around for advice on others getting their companies to pay for travel, to hear that it was not an uncommon thing amongst the group of women, even the frequent speakers, that their employers don't pay the travel. The conferences really should pay the travel and stay for their speakers. And the good ones do.

I was delighted to have the opportunity to step up and offer a travel scholarship for this particular case. Second year in a row, I'm using my non-profit to pay a Speak Easy connected minority speaker to go to EuroSTAR, to speak and use the full opportunity of learning. I call EuroSTAR my favorite disliked conference, as they really should change their policy. And while I can't change them, I can change a small part of the pain the #PayToSpeak policy causes.

I can make one small wrong right. This speaker is awesome in many ways, and an inspiration to me.

Just briefly checked some conferences that pay their speakers and some that don't. Unsurprisingly, the ones that pay their speakers have a much more natural gender balance.

I can correct one wrong. The power of correcting the bigger wrong lies with the conference organizers.