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SIGGRAPH Diversity and Inclusion Summit Bringing Together Important Voices for Change

Talks and discussions with top speakers will focus on insights and strategies for promoting awareness, empowerment and equity.

With this Sunday’s Diversity and Inclusion Summit, ACM SIGGRAPH kicks off SIGGRAPH 2019 with a full day devoted to presentations and discussions focused on a wide range of important issues all pointing to the fact that a more diverse and inclusive workplace makes production more creative and successful.

Billed as a day-long workshop “that will inform and educate our community about Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access, and Leadership (I.D.E.A.L.S),” the summit, open to all registered SIGGRPAH 2019 attendees, includes a number of key speakers from academia and industry who will share insight into how workplace diversity “adds significant value to our community, encouraging us to make better decisions, develop better algorithms, and engage with art, media and design.”

According to ACM SIGGRAPH Diversity and Inclusion Committee Chair Tony Baylis, the summit focus is “to promote inclusivity, access, awareness and equity, and to provide information and help empower our community.” For Baylis, the summit is an important computer graphics and entertainment industry gathering. “The summit is centered around trying to help and assist professional growth, individually and as a  community,” he explains. “Hopefully, we can enlighten, encourage and inspire people to follow the mission of our organization and help people tell their own authentic stories.”

The summit will include a number of presentations and panel discussions that “examine the pressing issues and relevant topics facing the computer graphics and interactive techniques community,” including:

  • Keynote: The Case for Diversity and the Lens of Intersectionality, which will address the benefits of diversifying our workforce and review strategies to create a roadmap that facilitates change within your organization.
  • Panel: Rendering Gender: Identity, Representation, and Sexuality in 3D Design, Interactive Media, and Animation, which will discuss how the gender spectrum is represented graphically in video games, how characters in animation challenge or confirm gender stereotypes, and how LGBTQ communities adapt or reconfigure characters and images from animation to speak to their cultural experiences.
  • Panel: HERstories: Women Leaders in the Digital World, an intergenerational panel of 12 trailblazing women who will share their untold challenges, insights and reflections on how they helped scaffold the foundations of the computer graphics industry in the early 1980’s as they continue to innovate and contribute to present day social trends in digital media arts.
  • Panel: Inclusion of Diverse Talent with Outstanding Abilities, a discussion by a group of panelists, allies, and support systems in organizations who are building, expanding and sustaining programs for this demographic of our society.
  • Panel: Diversity, Collaboration, and Building Toward an Inclusive Organization, a discussion with organizations who are striving to create organizational change needed in today’s workplace realities.

“All organizations want to build a culture that helps assist them with a framework where people feel like they’re included,” Baylis continues. “SIGGRAPH is a group of roughly around 9,000 people who belong in those communities. What we want to do is provide them the opportunity to build their own awareness, education, and resources, to empower them. And to empower them so not only do they grow as individuals, but they can add additional value in their own organizations.”

Baylis notes that the studios gain from embracing diversity and inclusion in the workplace. “The summit is titled ‘Encouraging Leadership.’ What we want to do is have organizations and leaders understand that if you create inclusive cultures and environments within your organizations, it helps you make better decisions, create, and innovate new ideas. With SIGGRAPH at the forefront, bringing this all together under one roof, we want to help people engage in areas of art, design, media and technology, all coming together to create something wonderful. What better way for us to add value and support the community than to showcase information on how inclusion, diversity of thought, diversity of perspective and diversity of ideas can help businesses produce more creatively and successfully.”

Visit the Summit website for a complete schedule and information on all the presenters and panelists.

Dan Sarto's picture

Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.