Upgrade to Pro — share decks privately, control downloads, hide ads and more …

Put Up or Shut Up: An Open Letter to Companies Seeking Diverse Teams

Put Up or Shut Up: An Open Letter to Companies Seeking Diverse Teams

The bad news: everything is terrible. Companies large and small are overwhelmingly dominated by white men. People from marginalized communities struggle to break into tech, clawing our way through a racist, sexist, classist, ableist system only to be fired, quit or just suffer in misery for the big paycheck, often at the expense of our mental and physical health.

The good news: we’ve finally reached the tipping point where the pressure is high enough that companies are actively trying to address this imbalance and diversify their workforces.

Some of these companies are sincere—some are just talking the talk in the hope of staying relevant. I’ll explore what it’s like for marginalized people working at these companies and what it really takes to create a workplace that is truly welcoming of everyone.


Kronda Adair

June 23, 2015



  2. #PUOSU #OSB15 Hashtags:

  3. • References to discrimination, bigotry, assault, terrorism • Calling you

    on your bullshit • Mild profanity Trigger Warnings:
  4. Friends, open source citizens, & tech companies, lend me your

  5. Sumana Harihareswara OSB 2012 Keynote Photo by Reid Beels: https:/

  6. It’s not a good culture fit. “We’re moving away from

    work/life balance and towards career advancement”
  7. Gunshow comic by KC Green

  8. Me, realizing I don’t have to go back to an

    office full of dudes: Photo courtesy of creative commons image
  9. Things worked out OK

  10. None
  11. 50% of women in tech quit the industry within 10

    years. https:/ /hbr.org/2008/06/stopping-the-exodus-of-women-in-science/
  12. We’re still new at this

  13. How do I Diversity?

  14. https:/ /twitter.com/cutequeer96/status/561726389716389888 http:/ /www.colorlines.com/articles/study-finds-sexism-stem-hits-women-color-hardest

  15. Who will start the bidding? $150 Million $300 Million We’d

    like to buy a male allies panel at a prominent conference for women
  16. Why is it so hard to move the numbers? http:/

  17. Meanwhile… SF Weekly

  18. Companies / open source community perception of diversity efforts:

  19. Underrepresented tech employee’s perception of diversity efforts:

  20. Hipmunk allows you to search for flights and sort by

    ‘agony’ Agony: Number of connections, length of layover, airport quality, etc.
  21. Is it worth it?

  22. 50% of Women Say: The nopetepus by Tinuqin

  23. Yes, we tell each other about your shitty culture

  24. None
  25. Your actual reputation might be much different than what you

    thought it was
  26. Your actions as a company speak your values louder than

    words, or money
  27. https:/ /en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mergers_and_acquisitions_by_Twitter Twitter has acquired or merged with 41 companies

    since 2008 for $625 Million dollars http:/ /www.womenactionmedia.org/twitter-report/
  28. https:/ /blog.twitter.com/2015/sharing-block-lists-to-help-make-twitter-safer http:/ /blog.randi.io/good-game-auto-blocker/ Randi who?

  29. But that’s none of our business

  30. None
  31. Who Are We? women queer lower class background mental illness

    invisible disabilities transgender Black Asian lesbian older (> 30, >50) no college degree not progressive butch ADHD gay fat poor non-white non-makeup-wearing mixed race bisexual Native American social anxiety impostor syndrome
  32. Reframing the conversation If you add up all the subpopulations

    we are missing: women, minorities, people with special needs, we are missing 70% of the population ~ Jan Cuny, NSF Source: Leigh Ann Sudol DeLyser, Teaching Tech Together Summit, 2015
  33. How has your identity affected your career? slow career start

    paid less harassment threats Let go for culture fit severe impact on mental health not taken seriously talked over in meetings criticized for my political beliefs
  34. “I’m in constant fear of being fired for who I

    am, and I’m afraid that I won’t be able to find a new job if I lose this one.” “I am expected to be cool with the mysogynistic language of my coworkers or I’m labeled ‘oversensitive”
  35. “I ended up with the lowest pay even though I

    was the team lead” “I spend time and energy that I could be improving my coding skills working on diversity in tech initiatives.”
  36. “Being poor and trying to network and learn in tech

    affects the tools and education you have access to. You can’t blend in.”
  37. “Fear of gendered harassment prevents me from ‘making a name

    for myself’ by contributing to open source projects. I’m also afraid to engage in the community on IRC, forums, etc”
  38. I’ve been told, “We don’t hire women for this job.”

  39. Baby by Wojciech Zasina from the Noun Project What can

    we learn from babies and Test Driven Development? +
  40. • Creating the right environment is crucial • Assume you

    will fail often on the way to success
  41. lmgtfy

  42. Quiz: bucket by Alberto Guerra Quintanilla from the Noun Project

    You have a bucket which leaks out half the water each hour. As a first step to fixing the problem, should you:
  43. A. Get a bigger hose and put more water in

    the bucket B. FIX THE LEAK C. Give money to Black Girls Code D. B & C Answers Hint: B or D are both acceptable answers
  44. What have your employers done badly or failed to do,

    that made it harder for you to succeed?
  45. •‘2nd shift’ diversity work that is uncompensated. •People taking credit

    for my work •Being passed over and/or denied raises and promotions •A company culture built around drinking Leaks in the bucket:
  46. •Having no recourse for reporting bad behavior •Reporting bad behavior

    and getting no response •Bigoted, mysogynistic language Leaks in the bucket:

    AN ISSUE Leaks in the bucket:
  48. How Can You Fix Your Leaky Bucket? https:/ /twitter.com/stubbornella/status/550458896880779265

  49. Seeking Happy https:/ /medium.com/@ericajoy/seeking-happy-58a2a375340a 1. Solve challenging problems in an

    environment that I feel is healthy for me. 2. Solve challenging problems that would help to improve the lives of people in need.
  50. “To be a black person in tech is isolating. To

    see a non-black leader in tech empathizing with the experiences of those in Ferguson, using his platform to amplify the voices and stories of those who might be otherwise ignored was powerful and moving.” ~ Erica Joy, Seeking Happy
  51. Dontre Hamilton Eric Garner John Crawford III Michael Brown Jr

    Ezell Ford Dante Parker Tanisha Anderson Akai Gurley Tamir Rice Rumain Brisbon Jerame Reid Tony Robinson Phillip White Eric Harris Walter Scott Freddie Gray Tanisha Anderson Yvette Smith Miriam Carey Shelly Frey Darnisha Harris Malissa Williams Alesia Thomas Shantel Davis Rekia Boyd Shereese Francis Aiyana Stanley-Jones Tarika Wilson Kathryn Johnston Alberta Spruill Kendra James Rev. Clementa Pinckney Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton Tywanza Sanders Cynthia Hurd Myra Thompson Ethel Lee Lance Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr. Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor Susie Jackson Sources: ABC News, Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Gawker
  52. Never underestimate the power of acknowledging people’s lived experiences.

  53. What are some strengths you bring to the industry because

    of your identity?
  54. •I’m better at UX because I think of more identities

    •I’ve seen both sides of sexism, as a man and woman. I have better communication and more empathy for others. •Different perspectives on privacy, communication, and identity
  55. “My background in disability politics and my experiences help me

    know to listen to other people’s experiences and consider edge cases and universal design.”
  56. “I’ve helped point out when a product / feature is

    alienating to women, which an all male team would not have been able to realize. Being multicultural has also helped me work on products intended for international markets.”
  57. “I’m very good at representing customers to companies, techie people

    to non-tech and vice versa. I think any kind of marginalized person is more likely to have this skill, because we all constantly have to negotiate and adapt in a business culture that treats us as outsiders.”
  58. Dos and Don’ts

  59. Don’t center yourself in spaces created by and for underrepresented

    groups. readwrite.com | salseforce.com
  60. Don’t ask employees who are members of marginalized groups to

    educate you, give advice or try to fix your culture. They are already doing the job you hired them to do so LET THEM DO IT.
  61. Don’t allow members of your company or community to act

    badly without consequences.
  62. Stop thinking ‘how do I make my company more diverse’

    and start thinking how do I make things better for everyone?
  63. #DoingItRight What have your employers done to create a safe,

    welcoming environment at work?
  64. •Employee resource groups •Mentorship •Expressing value for interpersonal skills as

    well as technical skills •Trust in my work •Listened •Single-stall restrooms •Flexible work hours #DoingItRight
  65. “…fired a male co-worker who sexually harassed female employees and

    made clear there was no tolerance for that behavior.” #DoingItRight
  66. Empowering me to lead, learn and fail without feeling like

    I'm representing some broader cause of diversity. #DoingItRight
  67. When Ferguson was in the news a lot, publicly acknowledging

    that people might be having a hard time. #DoingItRight
  68. Just not talking about my gender or heritage. Treating me

    the same as the white guys. Actually providing work-life balance and not expecting everyone to grind away and be a rockstar. Offering mentorship and explicitly saying I am always welcome to ask for their help (and then providing it!) #DoingItRight
  69. My company hired the Ada Initiative to run the Ally

    Skills workshop; my team hires for people with emotional intelligence and ability to work with humans #DoingItRight
  70. The Number 1 Way to Improve your Culture Immediately: Photo

    courtesy of creative commons image
  71. What I Would Do With $450 Million & a Male

    Allies Panel •Equalize all salaries within the same job category •Hire a consultant to help educate you and your employees like AirBnB did •Hire a recruiter to help you expand your network so you can stop bugging your one Black friend
  72. What I Would Do With $450 Million & a Male

    Allies Panel • Make sure your offices have gender neutral bathrooms • Offer trans-inclusive healthcare • Stop making those shitty open office plans that everyone hates. Give people doors or let them work remotely
  73. The Male Allies Panel can handle child care at the

  74. Pick one category and make system changes throughout the company

    “When you tidy your space completely, you transform the scenery.” ~ Marie Kondo “Start by discarding all at once, intensely and completely.”
  75. Language •Job listings •Interviews •Training materials •Announcements •Marketing •Social Media

    •Code comments Discard all the harmful language Replace with inclusive language
  76. If you don’t have $450 Mil. laying around https:/ /www.ncwit.org/alliances/ea

  77. If you don’t have $450 Mil. laying around https:/ /www.ncwit.org/alliances/ea

  78. Techtown Portland Diversity Pledge http:/ /www.techtownportland.com/diversity-letter

  79. Techtown Portland Diversity Pledge http:/ /www.techtownportland.com/diversity-letter

  80. Mouth (Diversity Pledgers) $$$ (Alterconf Sponsors)

  81. The Hard Truth Empathy is the core ingredient that all

    diversity efforts depend on. If you are uncomfortable, you’ll know you’re making progress.
  82. Credits & Thanks This talk is truly open source, in

    that it’s the result of lots of conversations with smart people and writings by smart people that I straight up stole. Thanks to the following people: Shanley Kane Lukas Blakk Dino Anderson Erica Joy Nicole Sullivan Sumana Harihareswara Pia Glenn Ashe Dryden Jewel Mlnarik