If you contribute to open source, attend meetups, or just exist in the tech industry, you are likely a member of multiple tech communities. Our communities can be an incredible source of strength and comfort. They can support our personal and professional growth while satisfying a universal human need for belonging. However, in tech, many of our communities have become exclusionary clubs with unnecessary and unfair barriers to participation. These hostile, ego-driven communities create ingroups and outgroups, causing shame and stress in members and non-members alike.
Compassion is the key to creating more inclusive and supportive communities. Compassionate developer communities welcome newcomers, support the well-being of existing members, and contribute to positive change in society overall. As a tech community member, you’ll leave this talk equipped with practical tools for transforming your various communities in order to produce happier developers and ultimately, a more socially conscious tech industry.
April Wensel is the founder of Compassionate Coding. compassionatecoding.com
Presented at Anxiety Tech, San Francisco, July 27, 2018
“WORKPLACE CULTURE DRIVES
TURNOVER, SIGNIFICANTLY AFFECTING
THE RETENTION OF UNDERREPRESENTED
GROUPS, AND COSTING THE INDUSTRY
MORE THAN $16 BILLION EACH YEAR.”
“I’VE REALLY BEEN STRUGGLING…THIS WEEK. I’VE BEEN IN
TEARS FOR MOST OF IT, AND NOW I JUST GOT A SNARKY
RESPONSE ON STACKOVERFLOW TELLING ME HOW EASY THE
SOLUTION IS AND THAT I NEED TO LEARN HOW TO DEBUG MY
OWN CODE. I’M READY TO THROW THE TOWEL IN.”
Post in a Facebook group for women in tech
“…DEMANDING ENRON EMPLOYEES PROVE THAT THEY WERE
SMARTER THAN EVERYONE ELSE INADVERTENTLY CONTRIBUTED TO A
NARCISSISTIC CULTURE…EMPLOYEES …WERE BOTH INCREDIBLY
SMUG AND DRIVEN BY DEEP INSECURITY TO KEEP SHOWING OFF. IT
WAS A CULTURE THAT ENCOURAGED SHORT-TERM PERFORMANCE
BUT DISCOURAGED LONG-TERM LEARNING AND GROWTH.”
“THE FEELING THAT ARISES WHEN YOU
ARE CONFRONTED WITH ANOTHER’S
SUFFERING AND FEEL MOTIVATED TO
RELIEVE THAT SUFFERING”
FOR ALL LIVING
1630 POWELL STREET
"PEOPLE IN POSITIVE WORK ENVIRONMENTS
OUTPERFORM THOSE WHO WORK IN NEGATIVE
CLIMATES BY 10-30%. IN A POSITIVE WORK
ENVIRONMENT, PEOPLE ARE MORE CONFIDENT ABOUT
THEIR WORK. THEY ENJOY WORKING WITH ONE
The Optimistic Workplace
WHAT IS A
“IN A COMPASSIONATE COMMUNITY, THE NEEDS
OF ALL THE [MEMBERS] OF THAT COMMUNITY
ARE RECOGNIZED AND MET, THE WELL-BEING
OF THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY IS A PRIORITY, AND
ALL PEOPLE AND LIVING THINGS ARE TREATED
A COMPASSIONATE TECH COMMUNITY
‣ HELPS US LEARN AND GROW
‣ OFFERS SUPPORT AND
‣ PROVIDES A SENSE OF
‣ BEING “SMART”
‣ BEING A “ROCKSTAR”
‣ EGO HUMILITY
‣ ELITISM INCLUSION
‣ COMPETITION COOPERATION
‣ BEING “SMART” BEING KIND
‣ BEING A “ROCKSTAR” BEING A MENTOR
"I BELIEVE IT IS IN EVERYONE'S INTEREST THAT
PEOPLE CHANGE, NOT IN ORDER TO AVOID
PUNISHMENT, BUT BECAUSE THEY SEE THE
CHANGE AS BENEFITING THEMSELVES."
‣ PEACE OF MIND
‣ JOB SATISFACTION
‣ LOWER CHANCE OF BURNOUT
BENEFITS OF COMPASSION
REMEMBER THAT YOU’RE
DEALING WITH HUMAN
BEINGS, NOT MACHINES
‣ WHAT IS VALUED IN THIS COMMUNITY?
‣ WHAT BEHAVIORS ARE REWARDED?
‣ WHO IS IN THIS COMMUNITY?
‣ ARE THERE GROUPS OF PEOPLE MISSING
FROM THIS COMMUNITY?
‣ HOW ARE NEWCOMERS TREATED?
‣ HOW IS POWER DISTRIBUTED IN THIS
"...SOMETIMES YOU WILL REMEMBER THAT...YOU
HAVE BEHAVED UNKINDLY AND INCONSIDERATELY.
AT THIS POINT...HAVE COMPASSION FOR YOURSELF,
SMILE WRYLY AT YOUR OMISSION, AND RESOLVE TO
DO BETTER TOMORROW."
Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life
“WHEN PEOPLE SPEAK OF ‘POLITICAL,’ ‘SOCIAL,’ OR
‘INTERNATIONAL’ PROBLEMS, THEY OFTEN DO NOT REALIZE
THAT THESE CONDITIONS ARE NOTHING MORE THAN THE
ACCUMULATED THOUGHTS AND ACTIONS OF MILLIONS OF
INDIVIDUALS. AND THE ONLY WAY TO CHANGE WORLD
CONDITIONS IS TO CHANGE OURSELVES.”
—MEDITATION GARDENS BOOKLET
A COMMUNITY IS NOTHING MORE THAN THE ACCUMULATED
THOUGHTS AND ACTIONS OF INDIVIDUALS. AND THE ONLY WAY
TO CHANGE OUR COMMUNITIES IS TO CHANGE OURSELVES.
—INSPIRED BY MEDITATION GARDENS BOOKLET