Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

We welcome Jess Pomfret (@jpomfret) as a guest writer to give some insight into the efforts SQLBits are taking to improve Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. 

SQLBits is one of the biggest volunteer-run data platform conferences in the world, it’s been running for 15 years! The aim is not just to provide top quality training, ample networking opportunities and plenty of fun – we also want to make SQLBits a place where everyone feels welcome. 

Planning for this years’ SQLBits started many months ago, and an important part of this process was working out what we can do to make this years SQLBits the most inclusive yet.  There are many advantages to having a diverse speaker line-up, diverse helpers and a diverse audience and a great amount of work has gone into making this possible. 

Around 9 months ago we put together a panel of people who have met fortnightly to brainstorm initially, and then start actioning ways to promote D, E & I at SQLBits. As hard as we have tried, it is also important to be transparent and open with our goals.  D, E & I at SQLBits is a long-term goal, we believe that we have made important strides this year and we hope to build on that year over year. We also know that this panel doesn’t cover every aspect of diversity (we hope to change that with more volunteers for next year!), but we have acknowledged that and made sure to keep it in mind as we’ve worked through these ideas. 

So, what are we doing at SQLBits to make it as inclusive as possible? 

This year we’re implementing the following things to boost our inclusivity: 

  • Pronoun stickers – available at registration, everyone will be encouraged to wear stickers to display their pronouns. This will help us all to respect each other’s gender identity. 
  • Meet the teacher – new this year, some of the training day speakers will be available the night before to meet with delegates. We know it can be overwhelming to walk into a busy training day, so pop in the night before for a beverage of choice and get introduced to your teachers.  We will email delegates who are signed up for the sessions involved with the details.  We aren’t doing all the sessions as we are trialling it this year to see how it goes. 
  • Bits Buddies– members of our community who are SQLBits regulars have offered up their services, and contact information, to help our newer delegates feel more welcome. Feel free to contact these buddies with any questions.  You can meet  them virtually before the event for a chat by joining one of these meetings, they will also be at the Community Zone during registration and at the end of the day. 
  • British Sign Language (BSL) Training – we’re offering sessions on Friday & Saturday in the community zone for you to learn the alphabet in BSL.  
  • Quiet ‘party’– If a crowd of people at the Friday night party is overwhelming and not your style, we’ll be hosting a more relaxed hangout with the same great food & drink options.  
  • ‘Ask for Angela’ – our bar staff and helpers are aware of the ‘Ask for Angela’ campaign. If you are feeling unsafe or need to be discreetly helped out of a situation, ask for Angela at the SQLBits admin desk, any of the SQLBits helpers, or any of the ExCeL staff. 
  • Emergency Phone – We have a phone number that will be shared with conference attendees that can be used at any time to anonymously report bad behaviour or ask for help. 
  • Diversity at Lunchtime – Grab your lunch and join with other diverse data professionals and expand your network. Connect with others with similar interests and improve your entire Bits experience for the rest of the day and years to come. 

International Women’s Week 

We are lucky that this year’s SQLBits shares the same week as International Women’s Week, and we plan on celebrating! Everyday we’ll have activities to highlight Women in Tech (WIT) and share knowledge around the difficulties faced, and the things we can all do to improve equality. 

Here’s the highlights – check the SQLBits session schedule for more details: 

  • Thursday – 12:00 – Womens Power Hour in the Community Zone 
  • Friday – 12:00 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Panel in the Community Zone 
  • Saturday – 14:40 – Women in Tech: Keys to a Successful Career in Room 6.

What do you think about our efforts? 

We’re hosting a panel in the Community Zone, Friday @ 12:00, to discuss what we’ve done, how we’ve done, and how we’re going to do even better for 2023.  Please come along and let us know how we are making it better and how we can do more in the future.

Also, if you’re interested in helping us progress this important goal for future SQLBits conferences, please get in contact with us by emailing helpers@sqlbits.com