Intersectionality and the real problem of diversity in silos

Audre-Lorde-single-issue-1024x387

Many companies still consider diversity policies solely in terms of dealing with separate categories of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, socio-economic class, religion or disability. However, a better awareness of how these strands overlap — a concept known as intersectionality — can improve an organisation’s understanding of its staff.

FT

I can’t tell you how many times I have expressed this problem with traditional diversity to people. Most thing they are doing a great thing focusing on diversity, and I never want to stop that. However they miss the point of true diversity…

As the FT piece points out (found via Jonathan Ashong Lamptey)

Treating people as individuals is key to improving this perception, she says. Taking an intersectional view means recognising individuals can have multiple identities that overlap, for example an Asian LGBT woman or a white disabled man.

Looking at the law, the example which I would use to demonstrate the importance of intersectionality is Baylis-Flannery v. DeWilde.

In the case of the complainant, who alleged discrimination by her employer on the basis of sex and race, the Tribunal found that the discrimination she experienced was intersectional, and observed:

While the findings of discrimination made in this case are of sufficient gravity that Ms Baylis-Flannery could succeed on either enumerated ground of race or sex, or on both grounds, one set following the other, the law must acknowledge that she is not a woman who happens to be Black, or a Black person who happens to be female, but a Black woman. The danger in adopting a single ground approach to the analysis of this case is that it could be characterized as a sexual harassment matter that involved a Black complainant, thus negating the importance of the racial discrimination that she suffered as a Black woman. In terms of the impact on her psyche, the whole is more than the sum of the parts: the impact of these highly discriminatory acts on her personhood is serious. (2003 HRTO 28, para 145)

But as Jonathan points out lets look beyond legal discrimination, as its easy to see the problem. He uses a good example of himself to show how in certain contexts he has advantages and disadvantages.

…he says: “Being a 6ft 2 man has its advantages in the workplace but being black has disadvantages, at different times and different places.”

This also gets more tricky once you have a number of people who share similar categories. My example I always use is if you have a large number of white women from a middle class background, how does this effect the inclusion or culture of the business for other non-white or working class women? Outside the workplace I have no issue with women in tech initiatives, but I really do like what Sarah Lamb did with the Girl Geekdinners, which felt a lot more inclusive due to the 50% invited rule.

Its complex but thats the point, diversity and inclusion isn’t a thing you can throw magic dust/money at. Likewise training is good but its not something you think about away from base then come back and forget.

The way to build empathy, foster inclusiveness and create trust in the workplace, according to Mr Ashong Lamptey, is to discuss difficult topics in employee groups or staff networks that share a common identity. “Instead of guessing, ask the people who are having those experiences,” he says.

“Organisations should make this part of a long-term strategy,” Mr Ashong Lamptey says.

I have to say I especially like the idea of the reverse mentoring whereby managers are mentored by a minority staff member.

If only we could take a number of these practices and group them into something we could test and write up the studies of?

IBM DIF project removes my flickr urls


Hopefully the final follow up from my post about facial recognitions dirty little secret millions of online photos scraped without consent. and the update.

Thank you for your prompt response. We confirm that we have deleted from the DiF dataset all the URLs linked to your Flickr ID and associated annotations. We have also deleted your Flickr ID from our records. IBM will require our research partners to comply with your deletion request and provide IBM with confirmation of compliance.

Best regards,

IBM Research DiF team

End of the matter, although part of me wants to contact everybody in the photos and tell them what happened. Not sure what that would achieve however?

Reply from IBM about my online photos scraped without consent

Diversity in Faces(DiF)

Following my post about facial recognitions dirty little secret millions of online photos scraped without consent. I got a reply from Flickr and IBM’s Diversity in Faces project.
First Flickr’s automated email…

Hi ian,

Thanks for reaching out to us!

We’ve received your message and will be responding as quickly as possible. In the meantime, do visit the Flickr Help Forum and our Help Center as the answer to your question may be found there.

We look forward to connecting and will be in touch soon.

Cheerfully,
The Flickr Team

Already Pro? Then expect a response shortly, because you are already in our VIP queue! (Make sure to write to us using the email address on your Pro account.)

Dear Ian,
Thank you for your email.
The Diversity in Faces (DiF) project, referenced in your request below, is a non-commercial, research initiative. The DiF dataset includes a list of URLs (but not the images themselves), linking to publicly available images on Flickr under certain creative commons licenses, along with associated annotations. We have taken great care to ensure that the DiF dataset does not include Flickr IDs or any other Flickr identifiers of individuals.
In order to respond to your request, we will need to locate the URLs in the DiF dataset that are linked to your Flickr ID (if any). To do this, we will need your Flickr ID, along with your express consent to use it for the sole purpose of locating such URLs and responding to your request.  Separately, if you would like us to, we can remove any URLs of images linked to your Flickr ID from the DiF dataset.  Please confirm this by reply.
After conducting our search, we will delete your Flickr ID from our records, and if you so request, we will also remove any URLs and associated annotations from the DiF dataset connected to your Flickr ID. We will confirm when this process has been completed.
With respect to your request to access your personal data processed by IBM outside the DiF project, you will be contacted separately by the IBM Data Subject Rights Operations Team (Email at ibm.com) to proceed with your request.
Let us know if you have any questions or how we can further assist you with your request.
IBM Research DiF Team

The race pay gap deserves the same attention as the gender pay gap

I wanted to annotate the original Pearn Kandola article with some links…

In 2018, the gender pay gap took up a lot of column inches. Whether it be large businesses having to publicly declare their pay discrepancies, or well-known figures like Jodie Whittaker confirming that she’ll receive the same pay for her role as Doctor Who as her male predecessors, the pressure has been rising and change seems to have begun.

But gender is not the only cause of pay discrepancy; there’s another pay gap just as damaging that hasn’t received anywhere near as much media attention

There’s a long history of BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) people being paid less than their white colleagues. Analyses of pay by race have been carried out in many countries, and the similarity of the results is striking. Generally speaking, in every walk of life, in every craft and profession, minorities are consistently paid less than white people.

In November 2017, the BBC found itself at the centre of a significant gender pay gap scandal. Whilst its race pay gap was just as, if not more, prevalent, far less attention was given to it. The average white male earned:

  • four and a half times more than the highest earning white female
  • seven and a half times more than the highest paid minority male
  • nine times more than the highest paid minority female

The BBC is by no means a lone example, though. Independent Television News (ITN) IN 2018 revealed mean ethnicity pay gap of 16% which rose to 66% for bonus payments

The lack of attention given to the race pay gap is highlighted when one looks at organisations’ responses to dealing with it. Global professional services firm, PwC, also revealed a pay gap of 13% between its BAME and white staff. This gap is almost as substantial as the firm’s gender pay gap of 14%.

Its sad and sobering to read and hear. Why it wasn’t picked up by the mainstream press is a whole different question. Like I seen elsewhere, its much easier to focus on diversity in the form of binary male & female. But the honest truth is diversity is never that binary.

Reporting and transparency around the BAME pay gap is the best way to making this all viable.

The pay gap is a symptom of a wider culture in which black and ethnic minority workers are undervalued and underpromoted.

56 Black men changing stereotypes

56 black men

I first heard about the 56 black men project through a podcast by the resource group’s Jonathan.

In the podcast Jonathan talks about archetypes and stereotypes, defining them very carefully.

Archetypes & Stereotypes are similar but not the same

“I find when people think of positive stereotypes, they are more likely to use the word archetype”

Humans find Archetypes And Stereotypes Useful

“Stereotypes are great examples of heuristics or mental shortcuts that we use to help us negotiate our day-to-day lives.”

Archetypes & Stereotypes Can and Should Evolve

“existing archetypes and stereotypes have led to the world we live in now, new archetypes and stereotypes could lead us to a new world”

This all leads nicely in to his role taking part in the 56 black men project.

Reading through the twitter feed and hashtag, there’s some really interesting comments from others. I personally have avoided wearing hoods slightly because of the stereotype and I don’t find them that comfortable to wear. I like seeing around me (being aware of my surroundings is important for me).

I’m super aware of my presence on people around me, especially females. Its been drummed into me from a very early age mainly media like films and tv. Anything to help change this stereotype especially around black males, is very welcomed!

Living life to the maximum

Ian Forrester #ib100

The last few days have been quite incredible, mainly due to being added to Inclusion boards top 100. Its been quite a whirl wind but my feet are still solidly on the floor.

I want to say thank you to everyone who posted, liked, retweeted, tooted, left a comment, emailed, texted or verbally said to me congrats. I means tons to me. Every-time I look at the list and all the other people on the list, I’m just ever-so humbled.

But being on the list is one thing, I’ve been pushing for a long while for diversity and to be honest this has massively helped even in the short few days since it was public. Imagine what else could/can be done?!

But I wanted to stop for a moment and tell you why this means a lot to me, part of it was in my previous post.

Without technology I would be a very different person and I want to help many others realise there true potential without prejudice and without fear. If I can be a part of this, I will hopefully inspire others to join us as we drive the much needed change…

I’m very conscious that just over 8 years ago I was almost dead. I always vowed never to let things stop me, if its truly important to me. And this is super important to me! I can’t even start to express how important. Not being entered as such, but rather the fact I’m doing something right. Its easy to get inside your own head and lose track of whats really needed in this world.

I always wanted to live life to the maximum and also have eyes on a future I wanted to see exist beyond me.

Thank you all again!

I’m in the Inclusive top 100 #IB100

I’m extremely happy to be announced as one of the top 100 most influential Black, Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) leaders in the UK tech sector. The list, produced by board appointments firm Inclusive Boards, was released today at the House of Commons as part of the official launch of the Inclusive Tech Alliance.

I have been sitting on this news for quite some time as it was embargoed from publication.

Inclusive Boards Logo

I’m unsure who(m) nominated me (lots of names come to mind) but I am very pleased they did. Maybe it was something to do with my keynote at Afrotech earlier this year? Maybe it might be something to do with Afrofutures a few years ago? Or maybe its a combination of different things and just me and my outlook. Its clear as day I have been fighting for diversity and inclusion at work and everywhere I go, its critical and I’ve become less and tolerant when theres a willful lack of it.

I say tolerant and it might be a strong word, even the wrong word but I do feel very strongly about it and every-time I read the figures of actual levels of racial diversity it just eats me up inside. There’s a real push to increase gender diversity which people keep confusing with actual diversity.

I’m always reminded of this picture when thinking about gender diversity in tech. Like gender, like sexuality, etc (Likewise for Neuro-diversity but thats another story.). Racial diversity needs an equal amount of people pushing for it too. The inclusive tech alliance can help make this a reality. Never underestimate how important this can be for young BAME children living in forgotten parts of the country wondering about their place in the future. I was reminded of this very recently in Macedonia of all places…

The Alliance has been set up in response to new research by Inclusive Boards that will show the sector is significantly lagging behind others on diversity within senior leadership. The founder of the Inclusive Tech Alliance (ITA), Samuel Kasumu, who is also a member of the Prime Minister’s Race Disparity Advisory Board said:

“Technology is increasingly playing an important role in driving our economy and there is a great need to ensure that everyone can fully participate in the jobs and opportunities technology brings. Ian Forrester and others featured in this list today are role models that will inspire the next generation, and hopefully help to improve diversity within the sector.”

I can do better, we can all do better, and being part of the inclusive tech alliance, will help greatly to get the message of diversity and inclusion out there. Especially in the tech sector which seem to shy away from the arts. A sector which dominates so much of our modern lives but fail badly with diversity.

Without technology I would be a very different person and I want to help many others realise there true potential without prejudice and without fear. If I can be a part of this, I will hopefully inspire others to join us as we drive the much needed change…

I won’t be at the event in the house of commons, unfortunately. But look out for the full list of people in newspapers and online.

Thank you!

So much good at AfroTech Festival 2018

https://www.flickr.com/photos/cubicgarden/28168173109/

When I first heard about Afrotech festival, I was impressed with the idea. I’ve always been in the minority at tech conferences. Its been so common that I just don’t (try not to) think about it. Its very common for tech events to try and encourage more women to be involved but even with gender diversity its poor to bad. Calls for racial diversity tend to end up falling on slightly deaf ears. Its not always unwillingness but it does have a slight effect, and makes you think… should I be here?

In actual fact the only times I have been in a tech event where the dominate people weren’t white males has been the girl geekdinner events. For example last week Sunday I was a girl geek tea party with all women and myself, I felt comfortable enough and hopefully everybody else felt the same (there was no indication to suggest any issues).

Its very rare when I haven’t been in the minority, especially around tech. At Afrotech fest, for the first time I was in the racial majority although interestingly a minority in gender.

I was giving one of the two keynotes and I’ve posted the slides and thoughts in a previous post. The other keynote was given by Ade Adewunmi who talked about similar issue I brought up.

Afrotech Fest 2018

The festival ran over Friday & Saturday. It felt more like a unconference with clear tracks. The sessions were varied with topics ranging from An introduction to cryptocurrency to What the Matrix can teach us about Diversity & Inclusion. There were panels for example The Good and Evils of Machine Learning. All the sessions focused on a slightly different view, for example the machine learning panel included lot about algorithm bias and transparency. Issues which directly effect the lives of minorities.

Afrotech Fest 2018

Another great thing beyond just the make up of the people was the diversity of personal backgrounds. There were developers, artists, people working in law, etc, etc. There was also a youth track on Saturday afternoon (which I obviously didn’t attend) it was great to see young people wondering around like you see at Mozfest.

I was impressed with everything especially the 6 black female organisers and lots of helpers, who made everyone feel at home in Richmix. The festival was very welcoming to those not from the black community with everybody was respectful alongside the lines of the code of conduct. Its also the first time I’ve had to agree/sign my presentation and keynote will not break the code, something others should do.

I had a great time, learned a lot and even my non-technical sister took away something. The conversations I had were great and look forward to the next one.

Little update

Myself and Ade Adewunmi are on BBC Click briefly talking about Afrotech Festival.

Afrotech Fest is a two-day tech and digital festival in the UK by and for black people of African and Caribbean heritage. It explores the intersection of technology, the arts, history, news, activism and representation. In particular Afrotech Fest aims to provide a platform for people across a variety of backgrounds to imagine a future free of the present biases whether conscious or unconscious. Click talks to Ade Adewunmi and Ian Forrester about Afrotech.

Afrotech Fest 2018 keynote: Diversity and the joy of being different

Ian Forrester at Afrotech 2018

The slides are now public on google drive (unusual but I do tend to create and edit them on google slides to be honest) and of course in the usual place of my slideshare presentaion. Its a long one but I could do it with all the videos a tad over 30mins.

They are thought provoking and full of references to some excellent research worth reading and digesting.

Massive thanks to the organisers and the audience for bearing with me through the keynote of 106 slides…

Continue readingAfrotech Fest 2018 keynote: Diversity and the joy of being different

We got to do better than this…

I know its a first world problem but theres an issue with microphones while doing talks on stage. The problem I have is the head mics which are always too small and therefore squeeze around my larger skull. Or if they are loosen, then tend to slip and make things awkward.

Skin coloured mics right & wrongs

But the big problem I have with them is they are always pink. I get the idea that pink head mics are meant to blend in with speakers skin tones. Except my skin is not pink, so it always looks super weird on top of uncomfortable.

Skin coloured mics right & wrongs

Hummmm, looks good right? Not at all! Looks like my head is partly cut from my body?

Skin coloured mics right & wrongs

Thankfully some conferences get this right by using clip on radio mics but I also know this is a big problem for some women who sometimes don’t have anywhere to clip the mic or hold the radio unit. Some are happier with a handheld mic too. To be honest I don’t mind holding a mic but have experienced the issues of using a handheld while operating a clicker at the same time. Luckily I’m quite Ambidextrous.

I would suggest options for the diversity of your speakers. A headset mic, radio mic and a handheld mic as choices… I know it seems like a lot of work but at the very least a radio mic and handheld mic? Forcing one type of mic on all your speakers will not get the best out of them.

There are a few conferences which have given me the choice thankfully… maybe the rest will follow suit if we complain more.

Intersectional Feminism…

Don't forget white women voted for Trump

I can’t really believe I missed this term and thoughts around this photo.

Washington Post

New York Tines

I first heard about the term when listening to the podcast what mom never told you.

There is a great interview with the woman in the picture

TR: Why did you decide to create the sign “White Women Voted for Trump”?

AP: We need to be really honest about why we’re here. There was a sense for me of being at the march and in community with folks that were wanting to resist this horrifying reality, but also not wanting folks to get complacent.

TR: How did people respond to you and your sign?

AP: Most were saying, “Not this white woman,” or “No one I know!” I’d say, “[Fifty-three percent] of white women voted for Trump. That means someone you know, someone who is in close community with you, voted for Trump. You need to organize your people.” And some people said, “Oh, I’m so ashamed.” Don’t be ashamed; organize your people.

That’s why the photo was such a great moment to capture, because it tells the story of white women in this moment wanting to just show up in a very superficial way and not wanting to do the hard work of making change, of challenging their own privilege. You’re here protesting, but don’t forget: The folks that you live with every single day—and probably some of the women that decided to come to the march—voted for Trump, made the decision to vote against self-interests to maintain their white supremacist way of life.

Its something I’ve thought a lot about, especially when thinking about diversity and inclusion. Its one of the things which has bugged me when thinking about the numerous women in tech events. Not taking anything away from them but if all the women are white, middle class and went to the same university – then we got a long way to go.

Maybe it also starts to explain why a lot of the women (of colour if thats what you prefer) I talk to are unsure about the term feminist?

Rather than weight in to this topic with limited insight, I thought I’d share some things I saw and heard.

Want to Learn More about Intersectional Feminism? Watch Shows created by Black Women

Why feminism can’t ignore race

100 Women 2016: Is feminism just for white women?

A split in sisterhood

Your telling me theres no need for feminism?

The fact most males are paid way beyond females is terrible, but hardly surprising.  The gap is pretty vast. This is part of the reason why I find it extremely hard when women, have said to me in past, theres no real need for feminism anymore. Very difficult indeed!

On hearing the story break, I wondered if Jodie Whittaker will earn the same kind of money as previous male doctor whos?

There was also another story which no one really picked up on, but it was noticed by a few and later acknowledge by the BBC.

Trade union Equity said in a statement: “The apparent pay gaps in gender and for those from a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background are troubling.”

There is also a gap between the pay for white stars and those from a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background.

George Alagiah, Jason Mohammad and Trevor Nelson are the highest paid BAME presenters, each receiving between £250,000 and £300,000.

The highest-paid female star with a BAME background is BBC news presenter Mishal Husain, who earned between £200,000 and £250,000.

It’s hot out here being so geeky

Jeremy

I do like a little Catfish, its one of my guilty pleasures and perfect for when I’m cooking in the Kitchen.

However Episode 11 of season 6 (catfish s6x11) stood out for me

Colleen met Tony online and fell madly in love. Though they’ve never met, Tony proposed to Colleen over the phone and she accepted. Now, Nev and Max help her finally face the truth to reveal the mystery man she’s engaged to.
I’m going to spoil the episode, so if you want to be unspoiled stop now.
Tony is the Catfish and pretends to be a white geeky guy to Colleen. Shes suspicious calls in the Nev & Max to check him out. They find out that he’s actually this geeky black guy who has been pretending to be a white geeky guy. Almost everything else is true and when they finally out him, theres a moment of … why did he lie? Usually a clear reason why they Catfish, like they are the opposite sex, super young/old, a friend, ex-partner or even dangerous.
When sitting down with him, Nev & Max uncover a problem which is based around stereotypes. Tony’s personality is geeky and shy; from his previous experiences he found some women assume things of a black man and are disappointed when he’s honest about who he is deep down (Thats the crux although a lot more is said which I could dig right into).
He then goes on to talk about how his family are not accepting of mixed race relationships and this further blows up in a later discussion with his family. They ask why a white man and when he gives his reasons, they are even more mortified than the whole proposal of marriage to a white woman (Colleen).
The whole thing serves as a reminder of how many people have to live up to these bollox stereotypes, and how we oppose our stereotypes on each other. Its also a reminder of how uncool its still seen to be geeky in black culture. You could argue this is Tony’s problem but I’d argue you haven’t been paying attention.
Interestingly I finally watched I am not your negro, which is a uncomfortable watch for many as it centres around race relations and power in America.
By and large this film concerns itself with the greater philosophy of why groups in power behave the way they do. This might be the only movie about race relations I’ve ever seen that adequately explains – with sympathy – the root causes of a complacent white American mindset. And it took a black writer and director to do it.
Watching I am not your negro points at why someone like Tony may feel the need to lie about himself? Lovia from the new republic said…

The last half of I Am Not Your Negro moves out of the lives of Malcolm, Martin, and Medgar and takes a broader look at American culture. Over clips of daytime dramas like The Steve Wilkos Show and The Jerry Springer Show, Jackson reads Baldwin’s prescient commentary:

“To watch the TV screen for any length of time is to learn some really frightening things about the American sense of reality. We are cruelly trapped between what we would like to be and what we actually are. And we cannot possibly become what we would like to be until we are willing to ask ourselves just why the lives we lead on this continent are mainly so empty, so tame, and so ugly. These images are designed not to trouble, but to reassure. They also weaken our ability to deal with the world as it is, ourselves as we are.”

Americans in the age of Trump are undergoing a painful period of self-reflection. The election of a reality television star to the highest office in the land would be disconcerting on its own. But the fact that this same star proved time and again that he has no respect for women, minorities, and the disabled makes his election that much harder to understand.

Almost feel like some of the works from Andy Curtis could be very fitting too.

Little diversity changes in the valley?

Nancy Lee

Google’s head of diversity, Nancy Lee, is retiring from Google after several years of leading the company’s global diversity and inclusion team

In Google’s latest diversity report, we saw that overall representation of women went from 30 percent female in 2014 to 31 percent female in 2015. But the overall percentage of black and Hispanic people did not increase at all, with overall representation of blacks remaining at 2 percent and Hispanics remaining at 3 percent. In 2015, only 4 percent of Google’s hires were black and 5 percent of its hires were Hispanic.

It’s not clear who will take over as head of diversity or when Lee’s last day is. Google declined to comment for this story.

Although still (at the moment I write this) not confirmed and this isn’t a criticism of Nancy’s initiatives. But its not great news and looking back at the afrofutures talk I gave a while back, little seems to have changed when it comes to non-white or non-asian people in tech. I would have hoped the increase in women would be higher too, especially with all work and attention.

Seems little is going to change in the valley, at least for diversity and inclusion. I’m sure we will find out about Nancy’s difficult position very soon.

Dyslexia, creativity and diversity

The advert that caused controversy, asking for dyslexic people

I am a subscriber to the codpast which is a excellent podcast about dyslexia and dyspraixa. Almost every episode is great and I started going through the back catalogue a while ago. There are some suprises like how I kind of warmed to Peter Stringfellow (I never thought I ever would).

But the most recent one really got me rewinding once I finished in the shower (I tend to listen to podcasts in the morning while getting ready for work)

Creativity is often seen as the preserve of artists, musicians and writers, but Chris Arnold, founder of ad agency The Garage, sees creativity as an essential aptitude needed to make it in the world of business.

With dyslexia and creativity tightly linked, Chris put his money where his mouth is and courted controversy when he posted a job ad stating, ‘Only dyslexics need apply’!

 

I wish there was a transcript but its such a great listen…

What do I make of the advert? Well the word “Should” makes all the difference in my mind. If they said they would “only” accept dyslexic people that would be rightly breaking equality law. The law which is setup to help.