Global Communities, Diversity and Inclusion BLInner at CHI 2021

  • March 24, 2021

The beloved Diversity and Inclusion Lunch turns 5 this year! Hats off to the folks who have organized this for the last 5 years: Anicia Peters, Anke Brock, Dalila Szostak, Daniela Busse, Gopinaath Kannabiran and Megan Hoffman. Much gratitude also goes to the invited speakers, members of jury, industry sponsors, SIGCHI Executive Committee, CHI Steering Committee, and each years' CHI community who have truly made this event a success.


Of course, none of this would be possible without support from the CHI 2016 General Chairs, Allison Druin and Jofish Kaye, who started the "Diversity and Inclusion Lunch" officially. Much thanks also to the CHI 2021 General Chairs, Aaron Quigley and Yoshifumi Kitamura, who enabled this grassroots movement to transform into the BLInner version, we hope you will enjoy.


Having the unique opportunity to serve as co-organizer myself for the 2018, 2019, 2020, and the 2021 version, I will try to highlight how this event has evolved and share the 2021 vision, on behalf of the CHI 2021 GDI (Global communities, Diversity and Inclusion) Team.


Getting ready for the D & I Lunch CHI 2017


“I am really interested in the stories that we tell and how we tell them — and by ‘we’ I actually mean humanity — and how those narratives and visuals change depending upon who’s shaping them,” - Klancy Miller


How has Lunch changed over the years?
Choose from Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner in 2021 #BLInner
How BLInner is paying forward?
Speakers are on a Panel style Diversity Chat now
What is the BLInner Schedule?
How do I register for CHI 2021 BLInner?




For the past 40 years, members of the ACM SIGCHI community have come together to make possible what we have today - a flourishing ecosystem of ideas, strengths, perspectives, and opportunities available for all those who seek to learn, innovate, and serve. CHI makes big dreams possible because it brings together dreamers who won’t quit. Not without heated debates or exasperated disagreements, what animates our potentials and propels our progress is at its core a culture of camaraderie among diverse individuals coming together to create a better future for all.


It is not surprising that CHI has been a trailblazer in its commitment towards Globalization, Diversity and Inclusion through efforts such as the CHI Women’s Breakfast, gender-neutral restrooms, and establishing ‘CHI Diversity and Inclusion Statement’ to name a few. We share, we listen, and we grow together in strength and spirit as a community. One way the community has expressed this is by creating a space for CHI attendees to break bread together at the CHI Diversity and Inclusion Lunch. The goal has been to engage the community by bringing difficult topics at the forefront via speakers who would tell their stories, and enable informal discussions at the lunch.


For the last 5 years, Diversity and Inclusion Lunch organizers took the logistics of handling a catered lunch, and organizing a speaker line-up while creating a space and time to hear the challenges faced by members of our community, and potential solutions. It is impossible to change a community within an hour. However, research has shown that acknowledgement and education of an issue is the first step. That is what the last 5 years of Diversity and Inclusion Lunches have done.


This brings us to the eternal question - why Lunch? Well, in the incredibly packed CHI schedule every year - there was only one spot open that would not clash with anything else - a one hour lunch event. And that is how CHI Diversity and Inclusion Lunch was scheduled - a spot available and open for everyone.



Change is constant. How Lunch has changed over the years ?

Lunch itself has changed over time. In true HCI tradition organizers have measured via post-experience surveys how to create a better “user experience” every year. For example, Lunch started as a speaker-heavy event with more sharing and less time to discuss. It was primarily in the “education” phase. Over time, organizers realized that people need more time to discuss. For example, CHI 2019 version transitioned into a discussion-heavy event where only 2 speakers spoke leaving more time for discussion. For 2020, the organizers also wanted to experiment with different table settings instead of open seating. They created scaffoldings around different spaces at the CHI 2020 D&I Lunch event to enable different kinds of conversations. Alas, due to the evolving COVID-19 situation it was incredibly hard to materialize the planned lunch into a reality.


Diversity and Inclusion Lunch Organizers for CHI 2018

Nearly every survey has shown that D&I Lunch is one of the most important events as voted by post CHI surveys. No wonder, CHI Diversity and Inclusion Lunch event has always sold-out fully every year - with the 2018 and 2019 version supporting 500 attendees. That is right, we catered 500 people with different kinds of meal choices in keeping with their dietary needs and allergies, all without ever visiting the location before the event, in a tightly choreographed fashion - delicately balancing the timing of serving the food, seating, speeches, and discussion led by vetted table-leaders. All done remotely by the co-chair volunteers.


Financially speaking, lunch has not cost the conferences much in the past. It was fully sponsored by 3rd party industry sponsors and a nominal fee charged to participants, at low 15$ to students and 35$ to professionals for a fully catered multiple course meal. The sponsors also gave away free swag. We are thankful to the past industry sponsors for supporting this event.


However, execution of the event has been led by a different set of D&I Lunch co-chairs with support from the General conference chair every year. From 2019 this changed too. Instead of being managed by a different Conference Chair every year, this event is now funded by the SIGCHI Executive Committee for 2019-2021. We gratefully acknowledge them and appreciate their support.


Next two sections will highlight the changes we made for 2021. Please read on.


Choose from Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner in 2021 #BLInner


"The more we honor cultural differences in eating, the healthier we will be." – Michael Pollan


We needed to reimagine new infrastructure that spanned 600 attendees across multiple time zones and paid homage to the diversity of our global community


For 2021, we began by completely reimagining what we can do with this new setup - everyone being remote, with unequal access to technology, and everyone living CHI 2021 in their own different time zone. How can we find a common theme across a new world setup that acknowledges our globally situated realities, diverse temporal availability and yet offers an inclusive path that upholds D&I Lunch tradition?


Honoring its legacy, the Global Community, Diversity and Inclusivity BLInner at CHI 2021 is a retake on the ever evolving Lunch format that has grown and iterated over the last 5 years. We intend to honor Klancy Miller and Michael Pollan’s views by continuing to create an infrastructure for attendees to learn about the unfamiliar, albeit using food. COVID-19 has changed all of us in many ways. No wonder the Diversity and Inclusion Lunch has also changed. We are now Global Community, Diversity and Inclusion BLInner (Breakfast-Lunch-dInner).


We began by identifying break time-slots interspersed through the entire CHI 2021 program when nothing is formally scheduled. We found 12 of these 60 minute break time-slots that have been selected to be inclusive such that participants in each continent will have at least 3 day-time options to choose from, with particular focus on higher availability for participants from Africa and Asia.


Each 60 minute time-slot will feature an award-winning chef teaching a cooking class in real-time that participants would follow along to cook from the comforts of their own kitchens, and ask questions. These chefs have been selected to represent the diversity of age, gender, sexual orientation, and origins from across different parts of the world. Similarly, their dishes are going to be global representing a melange of cuisines, at least one from each continent of the world. These dishes will also be selected to be inclusive of allergies, and dietary restrictions as best as possible.


So, in total we expect to live stream 12 cooking classes, moderated by one of the GDI co-chairs, with 50 attendees in each class who will learn to cook a dish. Attendees will register for their preferred time slot. That time slot will be assigned a chef and dish. We have limited seats - up to 600 attendees. This represents a 20% increase from the CHI 2020 version and we are excited to leverage technology to bring this event to even more folks around the world.


We will not ship ingredients or swag to your house. This is not sustainable. However, we will share the list of ingredients before the class. This means that you can choose ingredients that best support your wallet, dietary needs and availability. We encourage participants to buy local and be ready for the cooking class.


There is no free Lunch. But an inexpensive BLInner that pays forward. Literally!


500 participants at the Diversity & Inclusion Lunch, CHI 2019
This image has been intentionally blurred to protect the identities.


Much like Diversity and Inclusion Lunches, BLInner costs money. We have to pay for the platform costs. We will also have sign language interpreters and closed captions in real-time for cooking classes which add costs. Finally, the chefs will be paid a fair price for partnering with us. All of this will be financially supported fully by the SIGCHI Executive Committee and we remain grateful to them for being incredibly efficient in accepting our proposal and agreeing to fund it fully.


However, we wanted to go one step further.


We decided to ask for a token fee from participants attending the classes - 5$ for students or participants from Countries in the H & I category and 10$ for everyone else. For perspective, this fee does not even cover the fee we are paying to the chefs. This is also 66% lower than the original registration fee for physical D&I Lunches in the past. So, why are we charging this?


We wanted to make sure that folks who register for the event, do indeed attend. Charging a minimum token amount will hopefully reduce the attrition. We also wanted to be part of a solution to increase access. We will use this fee to provide free registrations to as many CHI participants, from the regions of the world categorized as H or I, as we can.


Consider this a contribution, if you may.


Wait - this idea is amazing. But, the speakers and discussion were also great! Well, we agree. Speakers are a part of separate Diversity Chat now


Lineup of organizers and speakers at the first Diversity & Inclusion Lunch at CHI 2016


We decided to change this part up for CHI 2021 BLInner as well. We have heard about squeezing everything into an hour is a challenge. So, we decided to provide BLInner cooking classes their own hour.


The speakers will now be hosted as an hour-long live-chat separately that you can sign-up to attend. The panel will be streamed right after one of the classes but will be available soon after for access as video from the platform. So, even if you miss the live stream - it is ok. Everyone at CHI 2021 will be able to view it soon after the stream is uploaded as a video, including the Q&A.


The live-chat is free to attend and no participation in BLInner is needed. Attending both is highly encouraged.


What is the BLInner Schedule?


As explained earlier - we went through the entire CHI 2021 program and found times when nothing is formally scheduled. We next chose 12 one hour time slots such that at least 3 options would be available to every attendee, no matter where they live. We anticipate the following 12 class time-slots. Please note that while best efforts were made to anticipate daylight savings times, please do confirm your timezone information independently prior to booking the class.


Tokyo UTC+9
« of 11 »


How do I register for CHI 2021 BLInner?


Quite simple.
If you have not registered for CHI yet, keep an eye out to register for BLInner as an optional add-in in the registration form, along with your preferred time slot. We will be rolling out this change no later than March 31st.


If you have already registered for CHI, fret not. We will send out an email to the registered attendees when the optional add-on is available. You can log back into the CHI 2021 registration system and add this, along with your preferred time slot.
Please remember, this is on a first come first serve basis and the seats are limited to 600 attendees in total.


Questions, Feedback, or Concerns?


Please reach out to the attention of Tesh Goyal at

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