LessConf Diversity

I read the following LessEverything blog post and tweeted:

Maybe the irony is lost on me but this reads like pretentious bullshit.

@stevenbristol askes:

it’s not at all meant to be. Can you tell me how?

Sure. Let’s tale a look…

You Are Welcome at LessConf, Please Come

The title is nice enough, grats on that one.

Considering this is the last LessConf and what a unique event it is, I’d like to send a special invitation to people not of “privilege” to attend.

I wonder what he means by “people not of ‘privilege'”? Like money? People who can’t afford to attend conferences?

Allan and I are certainly irreverent, sometimes crass, but we always try to included everyone.

irreverent (adjective): showing a lack of respect for people or things that are generally taken seriously

crass (adjective): lacking sensitivity, refinement, or intelligence

Yeah, I can see that.

And by “include everyone” of course he is referring to his conference that has people apply and only after deeming them worthy are they given the privilege of buying a ticket.

That’s how we’ve always been: You know the person at the office who is a bit weird or shy and no one ever invites to lunch? I always invite that person along for lunch. That’s just the kind of people we are.

Ok so now you are defining “people not of ‘privilege'” as people who aren’t social at work or deemed by you as “weird”. Seems off to me but moving on…

LessConf, like most conferences, is filled with white heterosexual men, “people of privilege.” And that’s great, except that it’s also not great.

Ah so people of privilege are “white heterosexual men” and you seem torn if this is great or not so great. I wonder what he means by all this. I hope he explains. (Spoiler: He doesn’t.)

We would like to extend a special invitation to persons who are not white heterosexual men to join us.

I’m no English major but doesn’t that statement mean the invitation is still reserved for heterosexual men of the non-white denomination?

More to the point, using a phrase like “not white heterosexual men” to group the “diversity” you are looking to bring into a conference community is pretty tasteless in my opinion.

LessConf should be a place where all people feel free to be themselves; where everyone is loved and accepted and safe.

And appreciated gratuitous use of the word “and”.

I don’t care who you are or where you fit in, I would like you to fit in at LessConf. Here’s a coupon for $100 off the price of the ticket. LessConfLovesMeTheWayIAm

Please do come and feel safe to be and express who you are.

This is from LessConf 2012: (A photo of what I assume is a group of white heterosexual men hugging.)

If adding diversity to your conference was a real goal you wouldn’t announce it mere weeks before it opened. The whole thing smells like you haven’t sold out and are trying to use the “diversity” angle to sell more tickets, and very poorly at that.

Best I can tell this conference is something you hand made, picking the speakers, picking the attendees. If it’s not diverse you have no one to blame but yourselves.

Here’s an idea if you really want a diverse conference get people of diverse backgrounds to be on the planning committee. Let them attract a diverse speaker roster. Let the diverse speaker roster help attract a diverse audience.

Maybe Steven and company do want a diverse conference but I have to say making moves this late in the game with the above post is a pretty poor attempt.