Combined Heat & Power, District Heating & Cooling, Demand Side Services

The ‘Frencham test’ for diversity

27 January 2022

The Frencham test was created by ADE CEO Lily Frencham and is designed to promote greater gender diversity at events.

The Frencham test is, in effect, a gender-focused energy sector events version of the Bechdel test - ( - it does not address wider aspects of diversity.

It began as a tongue-in-cheek take on the Bechdel test but we soon realised it is a genuinely useful tool to assess gender diversity from an objective standpoint - we want to lead by example and have always tried to be considered about having diverse perspectives at our events; however, it isn’t always easy to be consistent in the way this is approached.

We would love for the test to become a more widely adopted tool in the planning of events and the evaluation of gender diversity at conferences, roundtables and so on across the sector.

It is important to remember that within the test, a person’s gender is whatever they identify it to be!

The test

The Frencham test sees that for all events:

• At least 40% of all conference speakers are female or non-binary (Chairs count as speakers if they are doing more than a formal introduction only, eg if they are also driving content)

• At least 40% of Chairs are male (no using female or non-binary Chairs to bolster your female and non-binary ‘count’)

• There are no panels that are all-male or all-female or non-binary, with the exception of sessions specifically focused on diversity that are seeking to highlight a particular peoples’ experience

• Social science-y sessions are not significantly female- or non-binary- speaker-dominated; Finance and industry sessions are not significantly male-speaker-dominated

• Where questions are drawn from the audience, at least 40% of questioners selected are female or non-binary

Hint: a good yardstick for determining whether you’ve got a good balance is to look through the lens of your comms material about the event: is the diversity of speakers so genuine that no pro-active manipulation/editing of website/programme order needs to be done to achieve the appearance of diversity?


The test has a grading system (rather than pass/fail) [if any of the above are not applicable for your event, you may assume a point is given for it]:

5/5 = gold status

4/5 = silver status

3/5 = silver status

2/5 = bronze status

0 or 1 = fail

Success looks like

The test is designed to encourage us to remember the value of showcasing diverse perspectives in our events and to actively work towards this, thinking creatively about how we can achieve gold status. It is ambitious and stretching, rather than necessarily being an “expected to reach” target.

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