SXSW 2020 Cancelled — Here’s How to Help Ideas Thrive

SXSW 2020 Cancelled — Here’s How to Help Ideas Thrive

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Update: Nobody’s more shocked than Kazoo [now WorkTango] that South by Southwest 2020 has been cancelled due to coronavirus concerns. And with the 100,000 thought leaders, artists, and innovators no longer descending on the city, the economic impact of cancelling SXSW — both locally and in the workplace community at large — will have long-lasting ramifications.

But you can make a difference — at no risk to your health.

Originally, this post highlighted 15 SXSW workplace, culture, and human resources panels to check out this year at the conference. We at Kazoo [now WorkTango] encourage you to still celebrate out these panelists. Order their books, watch their TED talks, follow them on Twitter and share their ideas.

We may not be able to come together physically, but the intellectual and inspirational spirit of SXSW lives on. Will you help carry the torch?

Panelists to celebrate — originally scheduled for March 13

1. The End of the Office: How Fully Remote Teams Thrive at Scale

As companies go global, the future of work is looking increasingly remote. Sid Sijbrandij, CEO and co-founder of GitLab, talks with Savvy Millennial’s Savannah Peterson about the tools and technologies he’s used to enable the engagement, productivity and happiness of his 100%-remote, 800+ team members.

11 a.m. – 12 p.m. | Hilton, Salon F


2. Diversity & Inclusion: Buzzword, Movement, or BS?

Let’s get real: We’re in a new age of D&I initiatives, yet most tech workforces are less than 5% people of color. So, what does diversity and inclusion actually mean? Join Black Tech Unplugged’s Deena McKay, plus Lisa Godwin (New York Times), and Lisa Magill (Aleria) in taking “diversity” from a buzzword to a movement.

5-6 p.m. | Hilton, Room 406


3. Doing Business While Doing Good

Today’s consumers are putting increased pressure on brands to incorporate environmental and social good into the way they run. This SXSW panel of speakers from SAP, Coca-Cola, Chobani and the World Wildlife Fund will help brands look beyond the bottom line and at higher purpose. 

5-6 p.m. | #SAPHouse — Cafe Blue

March 14

4. The Fix: Invisible Barriers Women Face at Work

After 16 years of working with major Fortune 500 companies as a gender equality expert, Michelle King realized a simple truth – the tired advice of “fixing” women (Lean In, anyone?) in the workplace doesn’t fix anything. It’s our workplaces that need fixing. Join her as she takes on gender denial and shares how to create a workplace of equality.

11 a.m. – 12 p.m. | Austin Convention Center, Room 10AB


5. Extraordinary at Work 

Vishen Lakhiani (Mindvalley) is ready to abolish the broken model of work and invent a new paradigm. Join him in discussing how to design companies around core human values to help compassion, connectivity, and productivity soar.

12:30-1:30 p.m. | Hilton, Salon C

March 15

6. The Courage to Be Uncomfortable: Men as Allies

In our cancel culture, men can be afraid of speaking up against misogyny and racism in the workplace — and yet they have great power to help. This panel helps men navigate the fear of making “inevitable missteps” as they use their advantages to create workplace cultures of change and equity.

12:30-1:30 p.m. | Hilton, Salon G


7. Beyond Diversity Day in the Office

Take diversity outside the box with Brandon Brown (United Negro College Fund). Brown will utilize a mix of pop culture references, stats, and a candid, engaging facilitation style as he invites SXSW attendees to explore their own beliefs and diversity practices of their organizations.

4:15-4:30 p.m. | Fairmont, Congressional A


8. Recruiting & Retaining a Diverse Workforce

Join Claudia Romo Edelman (We Are All Human) and Judith Williams (SAP) for a conversation about The Hispanic Promise — the first-of-its-kind national pledge to hire, promote, retain, and celebrate Hispanics in the workplace.

5-6 p.m. | #SAPHouse — Cafe Blue

March 16

9. Finding the Meaning Behind the Purpose of Work

This panel draws a line in the sand: Purpose is for companies. But meaning? That’s for humans — humans who are quickly being lost in today’s workplace. Erica Volini of Deloitte looks at ways to restore meaning, and infuse the future of work with a human focus.

9:30-10:30 a.m. | Hilton, Salon F


10. Elevating the Human Experience in the Workplace

Today’s workers want more from their companies than just a paycheck. They want career, purpose, and meaning from their work. In this panel, Stephanie Wolfe (Alexion) and Jannine Zucker (Deloitte) explore the four facets of a human-centric workforce experience.

11 a.m. – 12 p.m. | Hilton, Salon F


11. Why Robots Can’t Replace HR

With AI and automation on the rise, is there still room in human resources for… humans? Alex Coonce (Ike), D Sharma (, and Nurit Shiber (Sisense) will guide attendees through the balancing act of data-driven workplaces and human connections.

3:30-4:30 p.m. | Hilton, Salon G

March 17

12. Burn Out or Build Up: Mental Health in the Workplace

When our working culture is always on, it’s easy to burn out. In this unscripted “fishbowl”-style session, attendees will interact with PhDs, HR practitioners, and executives in a cutting-edge conversation about mental health in the workplace.

9:30-10:30 a.m. | Hilton, Salon G


13. Tap Into Employee Feedback To Shape D&I Initiatives

We talk the talk when it comes to D&I. But when 1 in 4 employees don’t feel like they belong at their companies, it’s clear the walk needs some work. This panel of leading HR practitioners will talk about how to tap into employee feedback to create policies, strategies, and real workplace change. 

12:30-1:30 p.m. | Hilton, Salon G

March 18

14. Jonathan Van Ness in Conversation with Brené Brown

Dial into cultural inspiration with two contemporary icons of emotion: Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness and thought leader Brené Brown. The pair will discuss vulnerability as part of the launch of Brown’s new podcast, Unlocking Us.

11 a.m. – 12 p.m. | Location TBA


15. Bro Culture to We Culture: Evolution at Riot Games

When allegations of sexism shook Riot Games, the company proactively decided to transform its culture. In this Featured Session, Riot Games’ inaugural Chief Diversity Officer, Angela Roseboro, maps the company’s journey from toxic to transformative, and shares lessons learned along the way.

12:30-1:30 p.m. | Location TBA


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