Have you ever noticed the overwhelming whiteness? Yes!

Employees stand up to racism

Dan Lyons asks the question in his blog while looking through the Business Insiders “50 Best Small Companies to Work For of 2017, According to Employees.” Then concludes with …

The companies that end up on lists like this are often the pep-squad types who work really hard to get on lists like this. It’s free marketing. It helps them recruit. But mostly, they totally think that they’re totally awesome. They’re the best.

Presumably the photos you see above were provided by the companies themselves. Which means someone gathered up the whole gang, took a bunch of photos, chose the best one, and sent it along.

And no one ever noticed the blinding, overwhelming whiteness. Which kind of says it all.

This is old (2017) but its every day I see the same everyday. The 2019 version is better but its not massively different.

 

A couple of powerful talks I have heard recently

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQOm6efNVW4

Its powerful and critical advice for all by Wade Davis (Netflix VP of inclusion). With only 40 views, it deserves so much more attention.

Also while watching a bunch of new videos, I came across the incredible talk from the Festival of dangerous ideas. Alicia Garza and Stan Grant – Why Black Lives Matter

#BlackLivesMatter has become the call to action for a generation of US human rights activists to denounce the violence and prejudice still experienced by African Americans. In the wake of the violent deaths of African Americans Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and many others call for change is insistent and consistent. So what does need to change in politics, in the media and in everyday lives to transform race relations and ensure justice and recognition for all?

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?

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!

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.

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

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.