The Audio Engineering Society’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee has completed its work on a document titled “Diversity and Inclusion Guidelines for Convention and Conference Policy Committees.”
This document is the result of a year-long effort by the over 40 members of the D&I Committee and its distribution was given the green light by the Membership Committee at the 145th AES Convention in New York. It shall be posted alongside the resources for Conventions and Conferences (found by navigating to the respective document sites in the AES Virtual Office) and should also be shared by Vice Presidents in each region with their local AES Sections.
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION GUIDELINES FOR CONVENTION AND CONFERENCE POLICY COMMITTEES Rev. 3
The goal of this document is to provide guidance for AES Conference and Convention Policy Committees.
The Diversity and Inclusion Committee’s mission is as follows:
The AES Diversity and Inclusion Committee strives to ensure diversity in the AES worldwide and the audio industry as a whole by improving accessibility, welcoming diverse genres, embracing emergent audio fields and research, and radiating inclusiveness to all races, gender and gender identities, physical abilities, ages, and nationalities.
In order to do that, it is important for our members to see this in action. Conventions and conferences are one arena where our attitude towards diversity and inclusion manifests, and we would like to insure our pledge is not seen as an empty one.
By adopting these guidelines, not only do we exemplify our attitude of diversity and inclusion, but by doing so we increase interest in our events, draw in more people, increase membership (note the delineation) and become a stronger Society.
It also should be emphasized that this policy will only be as successful as the degree to which it is embraced, embodied and upheld by AES leadership, therefore the Executive Committee of the AES and the AES Board of Governors shall also endorse and deploy the document to insure its effectiveness and longevity.
II. Common Pitfalls / Examples of non-inclusive mindsets
Common pitfalls can be expressed in very avoidable statements that exemplify the attitudes we are hoping to change. These statements drive members away – in many cases, members who are trying to break new ground and change ingrained habits.
Here are some examples of statements made that do not represent an inclusive mindset:
- “I couldn’t find any women for this panel,” “I couldn’t find a person of color for this panel.”
The D&I Committee can recommend a diverse group of women and people of all races in every area of expertise represented by the Society. Please contact us. We are building a roster for this purpose.
- “I don’t want this panel to have too many women, or else it will seem like a women’s panel,” or “We should have at least one man on the panel to balance things out.”
Panels comprised solely of men have been the norm for decades.
- “We don’t want this to become an electronic music conference, that’s not what we do.”
Look at the benefits of increasing the appeal of your event and widening your audience. Find areas of overlap that can work.
- “If we try to attract young people, the convention will change.”
This statement makes a sweeping statement about a particular group. The solution (in the case of youth) could be to have chaperones. Try to think of solutions instead of barriers. Young people are the future of our organization. Consider the benefit of ensuring the Society’s longevity.
III. Reporting Structure
Where possible, there should be metrics built into EasyChair. When presenters and authors sign up, we can gather demographic data so that organizers can have real-time feedback about diversity.
Conference and Convention planning committees shall have a representative from the D&I Committee.
A. Conference and Convention Policy Committee chairs should interface with either the Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee (currently Leslie Gaston-Bird) or appointed representative.
B. The designated person from Diversity and Inclusion may choose to bring any concerns to the D&I Committee for discussion and communicate back to the relevant chair.
C. In case of dispute, the Executive Director, Chair of the Membership Committee, and President shall be involved in the conversation and help come to a resolution.
Areas of desired increased participation:
Proposed panels dealing with topics of diversity and inclusion should be well thought-out and receive input from this committee. Our goal is not to censor: We want to help the panel succeed by giving cautionary advice and perhaps avoiding real problems afterward.
Panels about diversity and inclusion should be moderated by someone who belongs to the demographic being discussed.
Conference/Convention organizers are encouraged to have panels with experts who are diverse with respect to genre, discipline, gender identity, race, age, sexual orientation and ethnicity.
Organizers who find themselves challenged when identifying a qualified person shall seek the input from the D&I Committee to recommend panelists. The D&I will publish a roster of individuals who are willing to serve as panelists.
Travel funding should not be a hindrance if desired experts are not able to support their own travel. The AES D&I Committee can make recommendations about resources for funding.
The authors submitting a paper may choose the option of a double-blind review process. This approach helps to avoid implicit bias with respect to ethnicity and gender. :
Areas of discipline: Workshops should also embrace all areas of discipline across audio engineering. There are many fields that have been established as new industries in recent decades, including the following examples (not restricted to the suggestions below):
a) Video Games
b) Interactive Audio
c) Virtual/Augmented/Mixed Reality Technologies*
These areas should be considered regardless of whether they have had dedicated conferences or conventions
Audio Genres: Workshops should embrace all genres of music. It would be desirable to see newer forms of music production featured, especially ones that have not gotten a lot of attention. These are a few examples, and genres are not limited to hip-hop and electronica:
a) Hip Hop. Many, many young producers are producing hip hop. The dearth of workshops featuring this music is noticeable and these producers should be welcomed into our AES family.
b) EDM and other forms of electronic music. Again, this is a popular genre among young people. The technology used to create this music (as well as hip hop and others) is currently helping to drive the audio industry economy.
c) Representation: Conference and Convention organizers shouldmake an effort to find individuals – even celebrities – from underrepresented groups to host workshops.
Appropriately experienced judges should be used for relevant categories. These judges should be literate in new genres. F. Accessibility**
Buildings used for conferences must be wheelchair accessible and booklet materials provided by the AES should have clearly-labeled maps showing where elevators and ramp-access doors are located. Event organizers must also be prepared to make reasonable accommodations for other issues of accessibility such as seating areas, allergen-free menu items and/or eating areas, quiet/dark rooms, and all-gender restrooms.
Off-Location Recommendations: the AES recommends that meetings held outside of a conference should also have wheelchair access and other reasonable accomodations. When a facility does not have proper wheelchair access, event coordinators are expected to work with persons with limited mobility as to not bar them from the event. Event programs should indicate on the program which off-site venues are accessible.
Readers of this document are encouraged to keep these points in mind for web communication, discussion lists, social media, and other areas where AES activities happen.
*The conference in Redmond, Washington (2018) and York, England (2019) are noted **ADA rules are US-Based, please check with the hosting country to determine the proper guidelines.