During a session at last year’s Podcast Movement conference in Philadelphia —“Diversifying the Podcast Mediascape”— Food 4 Thot’s Fran Tirado gave voice to a critical discussion happening in our industry, drawing a line between the terms “diversity” and “inclusion.” He went on to say:

"To me, diversity is the what and inclusion is the how. So with the 'what' I look at the conference program and I look at all the faces who are speaking. I see women, I see queer people, I see people of color, I see a woman in a hijab. The 'how' is [asking] were they involved in any conversations to get to where they are right now? Were there people of color in charge of this conference that helped allocate those voices or those bodies to hire them and have them be there? Were they paid, how much were they paid—do they feel their opinions valued, are they walking away from this experience feeling good about it? And more importantly, will it be this diverse—or more diverse—every year for years to come? Inclusion isn't how you did it once, it's how you continue to do it."

Fran Tirado, Diversifying the Podcast Mediascape @ PM18

I took Fran’s words to heart when thinking about how I’d like Simplecast to be involved at this year’s conference in Orlando. In addition to being a Gold sponsor, I'm excited to partner with Podcast Movement in organizing the 2nd Annual Podcasters of Color Networking Event.

To help plan, I’m inviting podcasters of color to discuss what we all want out of this event and conference in a series of discussions later this month. I’d like to also ask: How do we shape this industry moving forward, so that inclusivity isn't a secondary concern (if one at all) but a primary motivation in all we do, at every level?

Creative industries across the board need to make massive strides in how people of color are engaged, supported, and given equal platform in spaces traditionally kept for the most privileges voices. Too often, the struggle for inclusivity and fighting for real opportunities is placed on those most marginalized by the systemic structures that ostracize and other them. Meaningful change shouldn't have to rely on bottom-up agitation from those already shouldering the burden of discrimination.

I want to advocate for collaboration and acknowledgement. Our industry doesn’t have to fall into the same traps as video and other mediums by underserving people of color, queer folks, and the disabled community. We can—and should!—create spaces for developing strategies with these communities at the helm.

If you are a person of color working in podcasting and want to be involved in these early discussions, please fill out this form. And if you know of anyone in your network who might have thoughts to contribute, feel free to pass that link along.

I’m so excited to speak with you all, hear and act on our brilliant ideas, and get some momentum going into the new year.