The US dominance of both the pen-and-paper RPG industry and the diversity debate is a real problem, one that, I think, is actively hindering attempts to address the problems created by a lack of diversity.
Letâ€™s take an example Iâ€™m intimately familiar with: Japan. (For people who donâ€™t know, Iâ€™ve lived here for 12 years, my wife is Japanese, and Iâ€™m in the process of naturalising.)
The important â€œracialâ€ minority groups are the Koreans, the Chinese, the Okinawans, the Filipinas, and the Burakumin. All of these groups are â€œEast Asianâ€. They disappear when â€œracial diversityâ€ is being considered for an RPG. â€œRacial diversityâ€ is used to mean â€œpeople from lots of different categories that are important in the USA, completely ignoring distinctions that are important elsewhereâ€. To expand, when was the last time you saw a game being careful to represent both Hutu and Tutsi accurately, or Serb and Croat, or Ukrainian and Russian? Or even Sunni and Shia? These are all groups that have had wars over the distinction in the recent past, or are fighting them right now, so large numbers of people thought the distinction was worth killing for. But all of those distinctions are invisible to â€œdiversityâ€.
On the other hand, in Japan, in Noh theatre and Kabuki theatre, the female parts are played by men, and both of these are revered national art forms, and UNESCO World Heritage traditions. In Takarazuka theatre, the male parts are played by women, and that has 100 years of history and a large contemporary following (overwhelmingly female). This is mainstream. Emoji were designed in Japan, with same-sex couple icons, to absolutely no outrage at all. The government approach to transgender children is to issue guidance to schools on how to deal with it appropriately, including allowing the child to wear the right uniform, and provide counselling and medical treatment as necessary. This is not an issue; I only know about it because NHK did a special on it a few months ago. Aya Ueto, who is a still a pretty big female star, played a transgender boy in her breakthrough role, and that was about 13 years ago. Manga depicting gay romances between young men and between male high school students is a large genre, overwhelmingly read by women. (It is, as far as I can see, much, much larger than the genre of lesbian romances between schoolgirls.) US assumptions about gender/sexuality diversity and context are just wrong in Japan.
The same, incidentally, is true of assumptions about racial relations, as I wrote here last month.
(Also, the Japanese language is gender neutral by default, and a fairly high proportion of names are gender ambiguous, but womenâ€™s rights are a considerable distance behind the west. Thus, I am not optimistic about the effect of â€œmore inclusive languageâ€.)
I am sure that there are similar differences between the USA and other countries with which I am less familiar.
So, if you are trying to increase the diversity of your authors, artists, and editors, your first rule should be â€œno more Americansâ€. That will help you break out of the assumption that the American way of dividing up the world is the only appropriate way, and help you introduce some real diversity into your game settings and characters.