July 2021 IDEA Challenge

Diversity and Representation: Speakers, Experts and Panels

July’s IDEA Challenge is facilitated by Jerome Chang and Shervonne Cherry.

The IDEA Project is a global initiative aimed at developing Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) within coworking and collaborative spaces. Each month, we will host a challenge that assists you in broadening your understanding of IDEA, whilst giving clear actions for you to take to develop IDEA within your space and events.

Challenge #6 – Diversity and Representation: Speakers, Experts and Panels

If you are new to the IDEA Project, or to these monthly IDEA Challenges – welcome!

We are an International collective of coworking associations and operators, community organizers, and collaborative consultants, and we are working together to make the coworking industry more Inclusive, Diverse, Equitable and Accessible.

We invite you to join us as we learn together, and make small but meaningful changes that will ripple out through our communities.


This month’s challenge about Diversity and Representation is facilitated by Jerome Chang (BLANKSPACES; League of Extraordinary Coworking) and Shervonne Cherry (Spark Coworking). Be sure to watch this month’s video, as Jerome and Shervonne speak candidly about their experiences in the coworking industry and their vision for a more diverse and inclusive future, beginning with representation at coworking industry events.


Our facilitators have identified a lack of diversity among panelists and experts at industry events. Ongoing underrepresentation of diverse speakers and leaders creates exclusive conditions and the perpetuation of a traditional, patriarchal, white-washed ecosystem. 


Shervonne shares, “We greatly underestimate and take for granted the value of representation. The subtle nature of seeing ‘yourself’ is extremely powerful to BIPOC communities.”

We need to model our values in this industry, in leadership and on stage.

This means making the time to plan and program events intentionally, and to consider speaker and expert diversity in many forms, such as age, race, religion, region, language, culture, gender identity, sexuality, disability (visible & invisible), body size, immigration status, income, education, training, industry, role, perspective, lived experience and speaking experience.


There are many talented, capable and qualified individuals who have yet to grace our stages.

If the diverse, creative, new industry leaders we are intentionally seeking, do not ‘see themselves’ at our industry events, we may discourage them from engaging in the first place.


So many of us believe that diversity is our strength, and yet we continue to attend or support events and organizations that are exclusive, homogenous and inaccessible. As attendees and event sponsors, we need to use our voices to share our values. Collectively we can initiate change.


Organizers will listen if speakers, sponsors and attendees demand better.

Use your power. Share your thoughts. Ask for organizations to take a pledge with you, and make a commitment to only support events that are diverse, representative and inclusive. 


For event organizers, the key is to reach outside your comfort zones, to reach beyond your own networks, and to intentionally seek to elevate and amplify talented speakers and experts who may not have historically had the opportunity to speak and / or lead. We challenge you to use your platform to elevate a diverse group of people and perspectives.


Jerome and Shervonne remind us that the coworking industry is not sheltered from or immune to tokenism and passive racism. For all the talking we do about community in the coworking industry, we mustn’t forget that a true community is made up of other communities that might not necessarily look like ours.


We challenge you to join us in using our platforms, our power, and our presence to represent and reflect our coworking values and the diverse ecosystem we want to see.


For a list of more actions you can take to make a difference, CLICK HERE.

July 28th 2021
9:00 AM Pacific | 12:00 PM Eastern
5:00 PM BST | 6:00 PM CEST

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