6 ways to make your audio event relevant and representative

Oct 13th

On 29th September 2023, the Equality In Audio Pact made small but important changes to the  wording of Pledge Four, which relates to audio industry events. Following on from this change in wording, we’ve been reflecting on ways the industry, and individuals within it, can turn this new wording into action.

So we’d like to share our ideas for 6 actions to help make future audio industry events as relevant and representative as possible.

As event organisers

1. Use the 2021 census statistics as a starting point…

In the UK, we currently have almost the best statistics we could ask for regarding the make-up of towns and cities in England and Wales. The census, which is carried out every 10 years, was conducted less than two years ago, and it shows the changing demographics of the country. Event organisers can take this as a starting point for curating a representative line-up.

2. … but rebalance historic exclusion

It’s true that the diversity of our country isn’t yet reflected in all levels of the audio industry, and this has historically led to panels and events of mono-demographics. It is in response to this that targeted events have developed. For example, our International Women’s Podcast Festival proudly curated panels and talks that exclusively featured women – which isn’t representative of the census. But whilst this may be perceived as excluding male speakers, it serves to rebalance historic gender bias. This idea is worth remembering when curating panels and stages within larger events, to ensure all experiences are given space.

3. Consider different cities

The audio industry, and events around it, are often very London-centric. And whilst London is one of the most diverse areas in the country, representation would mean something different in different cities. In fact, this is something that the new Birmingham Podcast Festival used as a foundation for their event – as the first official ‘minority majority’ city in the UK, the line-up reflected the 2021 census data.

As individuals

1. Follow the pledge!

Refusing to lend your voice can be as powerful as speaking up. If you are asked to speak at an event that doesn’t seem to be taking actions on equality, politely decline – and explain why. Some EAP signees have withdrawn from events in the past that didn’t appear to uphold the pledge. This might sometimes mean losing out on paid work, but individuals have the ability to make a difference, even through small actions.

2. Suggest someone else in your place

When you tell an event why you don’t feel comfortable speaking, you could open the conversation about other speakers that would be a better fit. It is worth noting here that you should ask the person you recommend whether they want to talk at the event. If the event is showing absolutely no interest in diversity and equality, that might be a very uncomfortable environment to send someone into.

3. Think about which events you attend

You might not be a speaker, but the audience for events are very powerful. Check the line-up of events before you go, and decide if it’s representative of the industry you’d like to see. If not, don’t go! Likewise, make sure you do attend events that are working hard to change the make-up of the industry. Your presence is the biggest endorsement an event can get, and this trickles up to the types of events that we see. This is especially true of in-person events where the organisers can see the audience.

These suggested changes will naturally lead towards more representative events. We also believe they also represent a more interesting approach to curation, with new ideas that will remain relevant as the industry evolves. As the new co-stewards of Phase Two of the Equality in Audio Pact, alongside UKAN, we’re keen to encourage these types of positive actions towards change.

Read the full statement from the EAP on the changes of wording here.