Day 2 at Confab 2021 – Creating Inclusive Spaces

May 6th, 2021 by Serps Invaders
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While our American colleagues slept off the excitement of day 1 at Confab 2021, we kicked off day 2 with some of the pre-recorded presentations from some of the best working in content strategy.

There were some particularly interesting discussions from Greta van der Merwe on when to get content writers or strategists involved in a project and from Alisa Bonsignore on the importance of building sustainability content into your strategy in order to benefit your business and society overall.

Building an inclusive culture

John Paz then kicked off day 2’s live events with an important keynote speech that debunked many of the myths of workforce diversity, including the supposed ‘pipeline problem’ in the tech industry specifically.

Thinking of diversity as a problem ensures it’ll be just that—a problem. It’s not.

John Paz

John argued that in seeing diversity as a problem that needs addressing, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, we should see diversity as an opportunity. Indeed, having a diverse workforce will likely allow for business to appeal to a diverse audience.

However, in order to achieve this we need to stop making excuses. The statistics don’t support the ‘pipeline problem’ and other diversity myths. John argues that we need to actively be challenging our unconscious biases and creating new opportunities within the hiring and retention process in order to create a sense of belonging and an inclusive culture.

A particular audience question of interest to us at Serps was around native English language requirements in job descriptions. Indeed, as a multi-lingual agency, we understand the value of having global and diverse voices and know first hand that a person’s 1st language does not determine their value or ability to do a great job.

Surviving Covid-19: An IRS Case Study

José Vejarno joined us next to give insight on how the IRS tackled the Covid-19 related business crisis with the help of partnerships within the service, across the U.S. Government and the private sector.

A useful talk to businesses still negating the effects of Covid-19 on their business, José broke down the company’s real-time analytics and discussed how they analysed and responded to on-going metrics, user feedback, news and social media.

We walked away from José’s talk with some pretty inspiring advice for creating content in a crisis and for life itself:

  • Be kind
  • Be flexible
  • Build partnerships
  • Know yourself
  • Lead with confidence

A career in content marketing

Day 2’s panel was a useful discussion that gave advice for those looking to get started in a career in content marketing, or content professionals looking to advance in their field.

Keri Maijala headed up the panel with input from Jordan Craig, James Deer and Hilary Marsh. Discussing their own career paths and echoing the musing of yesterdays panel, the group discussed the many different multitudes of content strategy.

The world of content doesn’t necessarily have a clear career path in the same way that an engineering or nursing career might. Instead, there are many different disciplines such as UX writing, tech writing, content marketing and more.

Giving advice on charting your own path, avoiding burn out, pursuing and creating new career opportunities and more, this was an insightful, practical and heartfelt discussion.

Fostering Innovation at Shopify

Kristina Halvorson returned to interview Clay Delk from Shopify to discuss “craft stewardship” in CMS systems, as well as how Shopify promotes team growth, culture and quality of work.

Clay gave us an overview of his career, starting as a copywriter in a small digital marketing agency, to working with Shopify’s previous competitor, to now working as the the Senior Staff Content Strategist at Shopify.

The two discussed the ways in which Shopify truly is an innovator in the industry, developing one of the oldest content design practices and continuously sharing their knowledge as they evolve over time.

Reflecting on how the 800 attendees at Confab this year hold over 300 job titles, Clay and Kristina echoed the discussions of todays panel on the evolution of the content strategy community and how our specialisms continue to grow. Yet, ‘soft skills’ remain at the “core to what makes a good content designer: gathering context, collaborating, giving feedback, taking feedback.”

Creating inclusive spaces

You might not think that yoga and digital spaces have much in common but you would be wrong. Natalie Dunbar presented a truly unique keynote speech which looked at creating inclusive spaces online for those in marginalised communities.

Yoga is for every body, and digital spaces should be too.

Natalie Dunbar

After a pretty busy jam packed two days of all things content, Natalie kicked off her sessions by asking us all to take a moment to breathe. This was the start of her insightful demonstration on how to apply lessons learned from yoga accessibility (or lack of for those in larger or differently abled bodies), in order to create safe digital spaces online for people of all backgrounds.

Natalie told us about how she tailors her yoga poses to work with the body, rather than asking the body to work with the poses. We need to do the same thing with our content and digital spaces. By looking at our biases, diversifying our user research and more, we can create spaces that work for the user, rather than asking the user to work to discover or understand the spaces.

At the end of the day, even if you’re not someone who resonates with yoga practices, failing to create content and digital spaces that work for people from all backgrounds, consequently excludes large user demographics and results in you losing out on potential ROI.

That was it for us on day 2 at Confab 2021. It was jam packed and even included a very cute pet show! See you again tomorrow for day 3.


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