I am always happy to give a talk, but after seeing things go wrong and speakers taken advantage of, I now require hosts to agree to a few things in advance.
- Please note that I will usually suggest you invite a speaker who isn’t as privileged as I am instead of me. I’ve had a lot of chances to express my opinions on stage; I think other people, and other kinds of people, deserve that chance as well.
No Support for Hate
- I will not work with, or attend events sponsored by, any company that has been cited as an inspiration by a mass killer, or any company that provides hosting or other services for such companies.
- You don’t include speakers who publicly advocate racism, misogyny, or homophobia.
- [Added Nov 2021] I will not take part in events that do not offer participants a fully-remote option, as the COVID-19 lockdown showed that this is feasible and that it makes events much more accessible to people with physical disabilities and people from less affluent parts of the world.
Strictly-enforced Code of Conduct
- Your CoC must explicitly explain what constitutes abusive or unacceptable behavior.
- You must have clearly defined methods for dealing with conflicts when they arise and trained staff to to handle complaints.
- No tracks or panels that are all straight white/Asian males.
- You don’t only invite marginalized people to speak about their experiences of marginalization.
- I retain all rights to slides and other material I develop, but will make them available for reposting and rehosting under a Creative Commons license.
- I will allow video recordings/live streams so long as they are accessible (captioned) and free (no paywalls).
- No censorship of my content (visual, spoken, textual, or otherwise) without my prior express approval.
- No branding of my content (e.g., addition of someone else’s logo) without my express prior approval.
- I reserve the right to charge extra if my content is branded.
- I reserve the right to charge for my labor if I am required to reformat my content in any way. Any such requirement, and my rate, must be agreed before a contract is signed.
- I will provide receipts or invoices for all reimbursable costs.
- My full travel costs must be covered unless the talk is in my home town (Toronto, Ontario) or given remotely by video.
- Incidental or unexpected costs (e.g., accommodation during weather delays) must also be covered.
- For engagements requiring more than a four-hour flight, I require at least one night’s lodging before the day I’m scheduled to speak as well as lodging on the day itself.
- You must provide the option to purchase both travel and accommodation on behalf of the speaker. While I may choose to pay and then claim, the reimbursement model excludes people who cannot front the cost for what is sometimes months.
- Similarly, you must leave your credit card on file for the hotel for incidental expenses.
- For for-profit conferences/events and for-profit companies, I ask for CAD $1500-3000.
- Or $500-1000 if you will donate twice the difference to a mutually-agreed charity, which often works out to roughly the same total cost for you thanks to tax write-downs.
- If there are multiple speakers, we must all be paid equally. I do not support celebrity speakers getting paid more.
- I may choose to waive my free for not-for-profit/community events where tickets are free or very low priced.
Ticket to full event
- As Tatiana says, you wouldn’t think it would be necessary to spell this out…
- All areas that are part of the conference should be accessible, including attendee seating, the stage, and social event venues (where “accessible” means “complies with 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design or national equivalent”).
- Live captioning (which helps everyone, not just people who are hard of hearing).
Safety and security
- Security should be provided as needed.
- No transfer or sale of my data (in particular, to conference sponsors) without express, prior, case-by-case approval.
Gender neutral and accessible bathrooms
- Including an option that is both gender neutral and accessible.
- Provide stickers, nametag space, or the equivalent so that people can indicate their preferred names, titles, and pronouns.
- If you have a scholarship program, don’t call it “diversity scholarship”: that reinforces the notion that “diverse” (which is often interpreted solely as racial diversity) candidates all need charity.
- Call them “scholarships”. Be explicit to how you choose candidates, and don’t make them recapitulate personal trauma to be approved.
- Include travel costs in scholarships so that you aren’t excluding people who are economically disadvantaged. If you can’t do this, make it clear that they are solely ticket scholarships.
- Ensure an accessible stage (see above).
- Require all speakers to use a microphone (even—scratch that, especially—if they think they have loud voices, because otherwise you’re requiring audience members to self-identify their needs).
- Speaker’s monitor (or an extra laptop so that speakers can see exactly what the audience is seeing).
- Timer visible to the speaker (and enforced time limits for everyone).
- Speaker option of presenting from conference computer or their own (in order to accommodate custom setups, special needs, etc.).
- An opportunity to test the setup far enough in advance of speaking to be able to deal with any issues that arise.
- If for any reason your event, other speakers, sponsors, attendees, vendors, or messaging become problematic (which I reserve the right to determine), I reserve the right to withdraw from your event at any time.
- If I withdraw, you may no longer associate me with your event in any way (for example, you may not use any materials I have prepared or videos of me that you have recorded).
- You are responsible for any and all costs associated with this, specifically including accommodations and travel plan changes.
Please note that I have never had to exercise this clause, but my experiences with Shopify and DataCamp have made me realize that tech will only get better if those in power believe that the rest of us will sometimes take a stand.