I just made an announcement on Twitter on something I’ve been doing for a while. Something I’d love more people with the same privilege as I enjoy doing:
Standing offer to any event: instead of paying me to speak, I am very happy for you to offer diversity tickets of the same value instead.
That way I don't under-bid people who need to get paid to present and the community benefits.
— Chris Heilmann (@codepo8) February 16, 2018
It is a wonderful situation to be in a full-time employment and get the chance to present at events. It also is a tricky one. Your work contract often doesn’t allow any extra income. And even if that is the case, you need to deal with taxes and paperwork coming from that. You also don’t want to be the person taking a speaking slot away from someone who does it for a living and is great at it. Or someone who starts out and needs the pay to be able to afford it in the first place. You also don’t want to be a speaker because you are a freebie for the conference organisers.
Conference organisers are under a lot of pressure these days. They are rightfully asked to offer a diverse line-up and be open to lots of people to attend. Elitism and gatherings of the privileged are things to avoid. Sometimes it is hard for a small to medium conference to budget for that. It is not enough to offer free tickets. Often people who could benefit from an event and bring a different point of view can’t even afford getting there.
To help making this easier, I’ve been forfeiting my speaker fees for quite a while. Instead I ask conference organisers to put the money into efforts that bring people who can’t afford it to the event. It means no paperwork for me, no worries about annoying my employer and yet it means I am not a freebie presenter.
I hope that this helps a bit making what we have here even better than it is now. Thanks to all the conference organisers who put effort into this.
Photo by Neubie
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