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Practical Diversity -- Expanded Edition


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Stopping discrimination is important, but tolerance is a terrible word (who wants to be tolerated?). What can we do to create more inclusive environments? Presenting some practical, pragmatic things that really work, based on real world experiences.

Updated expanded talk, given to GE Oil & Gas Women's Network in Florence and Annual Meeting internal tech conference in Amsterdam, both in Dec 2013.

Published in: Business
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Practical Diversity -- Expanded Edition

  1. 1. Practical Diversity Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  2. 2. What Do I Know? • Lead international, multi-disciplinary teams ranging in size from 30 to 300. • Moved recruitment from 70-30 M-F to 50-50 in IT function of a large company. • Founded LGBT network that was recognised by Stonewall as a Star Performer; 5 years in the Workplace Equality Index (100 best places to work for LGB employees in UK) Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  3. 3. Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  4. 4. Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  5. 5. I’m A Bit of a Diversity Statistic        Woman… Gay… Foreign… Employed (this is a bad thing if you’re foreign…) Multi-lingual Disabled… Atheist…  BUT grew up hugely aware of (unasked & undeserved) privilege I had growing up white in Apartheid South Africa. Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  6. 6. My childhood was FULL of signs like these Horrible & horrific but impossible to escape Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  7. 7. I CANNOT DENY THAT PRIVILEGE In fact, the most useful thing I can do is assess, understanding & acknowledge that privilege Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  8. 8. In Apartheid South Africa, ALL systems were set up to actively & blatantly give advantage to white folks and disadvantage non-whites. We are less good at spotting this when it isn’t so blatant. Check out the original article from Peggy McIntosh: Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  9. 9. Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  10. 10. “We have to aggressively, and uncompromisingly, attack the pernicious lie that the technology industry is a meritocracy. Perpetuating this myth only serves to bolster the egos of those who have succeeded already, at the expense of saying that people who are underrepresented in tech today aren’t present because they aren’t good” – Anil Dash Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  11. 11. NOT DISCRIMINATING IS IMPORTANT Legally, if nothing else Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  12. 12. BUT TOLERANCE IS A TERRIBLE WORD Would YOU want to be tolerated? Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  13. 13. WOULDN’T A FULLY INCLUSIVE ENVIRONMENT BE BETTER? PROTIP: Helps Everyone! Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  14. 14. Diversity is a Spectrum Active hatred & discrimination (*isms) Micro aggressions Meri Williams, ChromeRose Indifference Active inclusion Tolerance @Geek_Manager
  15. 15. “A micro-aggression is telling young boys that they are very smart, and telling young girls that they are very pretty. ” - Faruk Ates @kurafire Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  16. 16. The Benefits of Active Inclusion Research shows that diverse teams are more creative, innovate and successful. Why? 1) As a lesbian board member I am a magical rainbow unicorn and my diversity dust ™ leads to greater profits … OR 2) A fully inclusive environment gives you the benefit of all the different viewpoints & experiences and offers many paths to success Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  17. 17. So How Do We Move Right Way? 1. STOP allowing underprivileged groups to be pushed away (actively/deliberately OR passively/unintentionally) 2. START building actively inclusive environments Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  18. 18. Some Things That Work… (some of these surprised me) Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  19. 19. Reduce Fear Increasing opportunities is worthy & important. But reducing fear is equally so. (tips: reduce impact of failure, risk of humiliation, acknowledge risk IS DIFFERENT for those in underprivileged groups) Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  20. 20. Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  21. 21. EDUCATE YOURSELF & OTHERS ABOUT PRIVILEGE & IMPLICIT BIAS If you keep doing what you always did, you’ll keep getting what you always got Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  22. 22. Implicit Bias Very interesting Harvard research into implicit bias – we don’t realise it, are not ACTIVELY but rather PASSIVELY discriminating There is a site with tests you can do that reveal your bias: Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  23. 23. Privilege 101 The number one thing that privilege gives you is a belief that you CAN. (… go to university … work in the industry you want … marry who you want to … get out of bed each morning…) BELIEF YOU CAN IS A PART OF PRIVILEGE. Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  24. 24. Privilege 101 The other thing that privilege convinces you of is that you are there because of your skills & abilities. BELIEF YOUR INNATE SKILLS GET YOU WHERE YOU ARE IS A PART OF PRIVILEGE TOO. Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  25. 25. Check the Signals You Send • Logistics matter – do all your events exclude people in particular groups? (e.g. those with caring responsibilities) • People can’t judge your intent – only your actions (you can harm without meaning to) • Language matters Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  26. 26. Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  27. 27. Check If Systems are Loaded Companies that assess effectiveness / performance and then AUTOMATE pay rises based on this tend to reduce the gender pay gap. One interpretation: “Pitching for a pay rise” inherently favours men, who tend to be more confident in their abilities and more comfortable talking up their results. Shy/humble guys suffer too. Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  28. 28. Johnny Clegg They taught us to forget our past And live the future in their image … They said “Learn to speak a little bit of English, Don’t be scared of a suit and tie.” Learn to walk in the dreams of the foreigner. I am a third world child. Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  29. 29. MOST ADVICE READS AS “BE MORE LIKE A LOUD STRAIGHT CIS AMERICAN WHITE GUY” Finding a way to be successful and still be yourself is important Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  30. 30. Frame Guidance Altruistically • Advice which focuses on how to “do better for yourself” has a very limited appeal. (a la “steal more pie”) • Altruistic advice (a la “bake more pie”) appeals to a much broader audience (including non-individualistic cultures…) Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  31. 31. When We Reframed Networking… Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  32. 32. The Most Important Question Best predictor of recruitment AND retention? Someone’s ability to agree with: “Someone like me can be successful here” Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  33. 33. As much as 40% better Much energy is spent if you have to hide your private life, or pretend to be something you’re not Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  34. 34. Role Modeling Matters • When a woman presents/represents at recruitment events, more women apply • When you present a monoculture, people make assumptions you won’t like Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  35. 35. “Did You Always Know You Wanted to Be So Senior?” Men leaders tend to say: “Yes, I always knew I could do more.” Women leaders tend to say: “No, but my mentors believed in me, and I trusted they were right.” Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  37. 37. Diversity is a Spectrum Active hatred & discrimination (*isms) Micro aggressions Meri Williams, ChromeRose Indifference Active inclusion Tolerance @Geek_Manager
  38. 38. So How Do We Move Right Way? 1. STOP allowing underprivileged groups to be pushed away (actively/deliberately OR passively/unintentionally) 2. START building actively inclusive environments Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  39. 39. Practical Diversity Recap Some things that help Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  40. 40. Practical Diversity 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) 7) 8) Assume fear. Understand risk. Then focus on reducing. Advise people to bake more pie, not steal more pie. Understand & educate about privilege & implicit bias. Connect people with role models. Grow more role models. Encourage them to be visible. “Someone like me can be successful here?” Tell people you believe in that they can. Tell people you believe in that they are there because of their skills. (no one likes being a diversity stat) 9) Find ways to be true to self AND successful. 10) Look at whether your processes/systems discriminate. Fix. Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager
  41. 41. Meri Williams, ChromeRose @Geek_Manager