SXSW (South by Southwest), the annual film, music and interactive festival in Austin, TX is one of the world’s largest and most eclectic conferences and events. With hundreds of official panels, speakers and dozens of simultaneous events, it’s a great microcosm of the events and conference world.

This year, employment, inclusion and activism were among the top programming trends the SXSW organization identified when they looked at the hundreds of SXSW panels, featured speaker topics and keynote presentations. The organizers called “diversity and inclusion cornerstones of innovative and creative societies the world over.”
The sheer number of diversity, inclusion and gender panels this year was staggering. We found more than 30 in just a few minutes of searching, just among the official events. We attended as many as we could in the few days we were in Austin…conveniently missing most of the wrath of the latest Nor’easter in Boston.
There were a number of re-occurring themes: family and parental leave, how to work with allies, flexible workplaces, and more. While there was great information imparted, and an amazing number of powerful women and allies all working on these challenges, I wonder what next year will bring.
Will all the discussion and reflection bring change? Or did we “use up” a huge number of panels and speaking opportunities on the discussion and nothing is going to change? It’s the reason we are wary of the seemingly ubiquitous”Women in _______” panels. They contribute to the overall number of women onstage but continue to keep women on the sidelines and out of the important conversations. Take a few minutes to check out the panels on our blog. What do you think?
A Seat at the Table: Creating Inclusive Spaces
AI x Radical Inclusion
Allies in Equality: How Diversity Shapes a Brand
Beyond Transparency: Leveraging Diversity Data
Building Inclusive Cities in Emerging Markets
DISRUPTERS: Gender Equity Strategies for 2018
Diversity and Inclusion in the Sports Industry
Diversity In Late Night and News
Diversity in Tech: It’s Not Just a Gender Problem
Elevating Blacks in Tech
Frozen: Why College Gender Gap Spurs Egg Freezing
How Diversity is Pushing Augmented Reality Innovation
How Tech Hubs Outside SV Lead The Way on Diversity
How to Overcome Unconscious Bias in the Job Search
Improving Diversity and Reducing Harassment in VC
Inclusion + Tech: How To Get It Right
Leveraging Your Product to Build a Diverse Workforce
Making Cities Inclusive, Equitable and Sustainable
Neurodiversity in the Workplace Meet Up
Nurturing Diverse Communities in Gaming Meet Up
Promoting Inclusion in Today’s Tech Industry
Resistance & Disruption Through Diversity & Data
Return on Inclusion: Investing in Diverse Startups
See it, Hear it, Stop It: Fighting Sexism at Work
Tech-no-color: Advancing Women of Color in Tech
The Art of Inclusivity in a Politically Divided US
The Post 50/50 Workforce
The Truth about Diversity in Tech
Time’s Up on the Gender Pay Gap: How to Negotiate in 2018
Women + The Power of Community
Your Diversity Recruiting Isn’t Actually Diverse