24A/ Realizations about Diversity, Inclusion, and Our Industry

From IIW

Realizations about Diversity, Inclusion, and Our Industry

Thursday 24A

Convener: Drummond Reed, Darrell O’Donnell

Notes-taker(s): David Luchuk

Tags for the session - technology discussed/ideas considered:

Diversity, inclusion, representation, leadership

Discussion notes, key understandings, outstanding questions, observations, and, if appropriate to this discussion: action items, next steps

Challenging but necessary discussion to be had in our community.

Do we have a culture based on fighting problems out? … if so, it only works until it doesn’t.

People back away from what some others are tempted to continue thinking of as “healthy” debate.

The risk and reality is that we are pushing voices out by “terrifying” people who might otherwise bring creativity and new ideas into discussions on important topics.

Too easy to stay away from this deep and systemic problem because it seems hard.

Being willing to admit that you don’t understand is a starting point for many, even though the problem is obvious to many who experience exclusion every day.

Trust over IP - volunteer based membership but 100% of Working Group leadership is male.

How can we be part of a solution?

Recruitment and investment as opportunities to make choices - how do we find people if/when we don’t even know how to look?

Women in Identity - run by volunteers, intend to help people and organizations understand unconscious decisions and steps to take to change behaviour.

Research says that one woman or person of colour in a candidate group of four has a 0% chance of being hired because they stick out as unique and their credentials are erased. Having two or more women or people of colour significantly increases chances of hiring because recruiters are able to focus on merits.

When women don’t speak - we don’t realize the ways in which we do things to discourage women from talking. For example, women are interrupted with negativity 75% of the time they intervene.

Men in positions of influence have opportunities to make positive interventions to bring voices being pushed out back into conversations.

Though some issues are particularly unique to women, many other shared challenges apply to people of colour and people with disabilities as well.

Even when we think we are doing a good job, it is possible to consistently be doing all the wrong things.

When leadership is on board with change and inclusion, the effect is powerful.

Not trivial to ask how to get more diverse voices in the room. How do you find people and create an environment where they want to thrive and participate? We tend to focus too much on the former and not enough on the latter.

Pass the mic - when you don’t know something or want diverse perspectives, give people positions where they actually have a voice.

Change the tenor of conversations by having it be hosted and led by people who wouldn’t otherwise be in control.

“She’s a mother so she can’t be that serious.” - men don’t realize how frequently women encounter these attitudes and comments.

The woman’s ghetto - not being allowed to speak to expertise but, rather, forced into “women’s issues” panels at events.

Trust over IP - it isn’t up to women to solve these problems for an organization.

Women, people of colour and marginalized persons are always interested and watching people’s decisions and how they behave.

Shifting culture proactively means that more women, people of colour and marginalized people will join because a space becomes a bit less bad.

This conversation has been shut down several times and in several fora in the past.

Fundamental problem across the board.

Voices trying to be a bit louder so they can be heard are classified as problematic.

Trying to get rid of white-men only panels leads to white-women only panels.

Decentralization … who gets into the pipe and get to exit the pipe … who chooses to have their identity stripped, and who has that forced on them?

Threats of violence to women and women of colour - white men, white men and men from within same cultural groups. Affected women are always watching and aware.

Even five seats can be an opportunity for diversity. But claims of diversity often fail in a panel of mixed-men or a few women.

There is no tech fix for the human condition because we insert bias and disadvantage into our systems even though we may think we are being open to everybody.

Fundamental flaw - people in the design phase who are not as diverse as the people they mean to be serving. Who’s in the room dictates what happens.

We keep looking for simple things to do, faced with a problem that isn’t simple at all.

Challenge to understand the changes that are needed to treat people equally in an affirmative (not passive) way.

It isn’t enough to seek out a different group of people. Need a culture change. Giving people the floor doesn’t work if the audience isn’t actively listening.

Pro forma change - “thank you for your service” has no real meaning. A version of this mechanical change can come when seeking diversity.

Part of valuing different perspectives is doping the hard work of accepting different ways of communicating. Undo wiring that builds up over an entire lifetime.

Aggression. Speaking up. Engaging debate. How are these valued over other ways of communicating?

Changing the way we are, what we are doing and how we are doing it is predicated on having greater diversity but that isn’t getting the job done. It is so much more than that. It is about how we rejoin the human race through the work we do.

What is at stake when we talk about inclusion and diversity? Have a vision of something really different. Changing the table, not just who comes to the table.

These topics apply to all technology areas, especially for identity. Protocols, standards and data formats that describe who we are. Past IIW sessions have included discussions about how identity differs as a concept across cultures (e.g. not centred on the individual). The Buddhist pull-request.

The risk of getting it wrong is real for our community. We will not build an identity layer that works for everyone if it’s not actually built BY everyone.

People have tried a lot of things but we haven’t moved the numbers. A token person of colour in a candidate pool or on a committee yet, over time, it affects no change. Just checking the box.

Start with ourselves. Get educated. Try to open your eyes and make a commitment to learning.

A woman can be expected to make copies and get coffee even if they are the most experienced and educated person in a room. Yes to building the table differently.

This discussion requires people to dig deep.

Centuries, decades of experience, day to day experiences, and what people have to deal with just to walk through a door even when they are being “invited.”

“Aren’t you used to being the only black person in a room full of white people?”

“ … there are black colleges?”

When we have to explain there are black, hispanic and native colleges, it reflects the assumptions that people bring with them into a space, and also their views on other people in that space.

Fundamental flaw in the technological system when we even have to debate whether Katherine Johnson (Hidden Figures) actually lived.

Thought experiment - imagine what a successful world would look like. Zoom allows us to suspend certain variables about our identity. Engineering out bias. What is this group’s definition of success?

Should we aspire to suspend certain elements of our identities to democratize conversations? Is this what we aspire to?

Everyone has biases toward difference. Why would a person behave so differently from me? Understanding before judging.

Heard that Canadians are nice but still so hard to get into the community. Canadians not trying hard to understand non-native speakers, immigrants and help them be part of the cultural setting. Don’t know how to respond to people who choose to see others based on their own biases.

Proposed directions …

1) Bring in critical thinking to process. Outsider disciplines (e.g. legal scholars, media studies) that can have an effect on the development of our concepts. Changes in technological design create power shifts that are hard to anticipate. Political aspects and hidden ideologies can be uncovered by academic disciplines focusing on digital and identity models. Involve this critical thinking without damaging the work.

2) Form of discourse inspired by, for example, political activism. The conversation takes on a radically different form. Our work will impact a multitude of groups around the world. Is there an opportunity to connect with groups that have a higher natural sensitivity to the issues we are discussing here? Enhance the discourse.

Counterpoint …

1) the concept that we are going to build bridges to a community that already exists is part of the fundamental problem. We don’t need to save communities that already know where they’re going and that we should be following instead.

2) a hostile wall is erected from the start of we enter into a conversation expecting someone else’s voice to be disruptive.

Question: what can we do to improve IIW and the broader community?


Chat log:

14:33:24 From Nader Helmy : I wouldn’t want people to hold back *because* its recorded

14:33:34 From David Luchuk (ToIP) : Please feel free to jump in and add to the notes ... which I will be trying to assemble.

14:33:37 From David Luchuk (ToIP) : https://docs.google.com/document/d/1D-nE1vtc4IoX

14:34:45 From digitalsista : which camera is that.

14:43:57 From drummondreed : https://womeninidentity.org/

14:44:54 From John Hopkins : google, facebook, amazon…

14:46:31 From drummondreed : When you get a chance, tell us what time those calls are

14:47:49 From mary hodder : i;m sick of being in chats where the women’s comments are only addressed by the women, and the guys just address each other.. we are having two conversations back and forth

14:48:08 From drummondreed : Let’s not let that happen here today, okay?

14:49:26 From mary hodder : put link to book in chat?

14:49:38 From Michel Plante : @kay - thank you

14:49:46 From Michel Plante : enlightning

14:49:55 From Riley Hughes : +1 - thanks Kay!

14:50:06 From drummondreed : https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42261227-tell-me-who-you-are

14:50:27 From Kay Chopard : Women in Identity coffee calls every Friday, https://womeninidentity.org/coffeebreak/

14:50:38 From Michel Plante : Another that I'm reading right now - Data Feminism - https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/data-feminism

14:50:54 From Kay Chopard : Thursday at 5:30 pm PST and Friday 7:30 am PST

14:53:12 From Kay Chopard : Here’s a book about women speaking in meetings and groups: The Silent Sex: Gender, Deliberation, and Institutions by Christopher Karpowitz and Tali Mendelberg - shows how the gender composition and rules of a deliberative body dramatically affect who speaks, how the group interacts, the kinds of issues the group takes up, whose voices prevail, and what the group ultimately decides.

14:53:19 From Chris Raczkowski : Great comments, Nader!

14:53:41 From John Hopkins : +1 to diverse recruits being an emergent property of an inclusive culture

14:53:51 From billaal : Thanks Kay!

14:54:16 From drummondreed : Karen, you’re next

14:54:25 From Kaliya Identity Woman : Karen has her hand raised

14:54:41 From Michel Plante : +1 Nader

14:54:43 From drummondreed : Anyone who would like to speak, feel free to put your hand up (on the Participant tab) to queue

14:55:52 From Marc Davis : Thank you @Kay for what you said and especially for providing a concrete example of a behavioral problem and a solution to address it (Behavior: Woman or POC gets cut off when speaking; Solution: Somoen in the conversation follows up immediately to ask pertain who was cut off to expand on what they were saying to bring the group’s focus back to the person who was cutoff). A longer list of these Problem:Solution pairs would probably help engineering-minded males to attempt to modify their behavior to be more inclusive.

14:56:00 From Kay Chopard : I’ll stop sending you books but this one might be helpful. It’s written by “two old white guys” but they are really good. It’s a book written by men and for men but it’s about working with women. Athena Rising How & Why Men Should Mentor Women by W. Brad Johnson, Ph.D. and David G. Smith, Ph.D.

14:56:31 From drummondreed : Kay, please KEEP sharing books and tips. It’s very helpful (at least to me)

14:56:36 From Marc Davis : Ugh, sorry for typos. pertain should be “person”

14:56:53 From Nader Helmy : @Marc even better if engineering-minded males in the room actually creating the list collaboratively

14:57:17 From Marc Davis : @Nader. Great idea.

14:57:34 From Riley Hughes : +1 to book recommendations - I’ve added 3 to my list from this discussion already

14:57:48 From Kay Chopard : @Marc thank you for your kind remarks. I have a long list of things I’d be happy to share. I didn’t want to inundate you. I did some training on this at Identiverse also and have proposed doing this at RSA as well. Happy to help in whatever would be beneficial

14:57:58 From Nader Helmy : @Marc :)

14:58:46 From Marc Davis : @Kay Awesome! Thank you!

14:59:01 From Marc Davis : Kay chopard

14:59:08 From Marc Davis : Sorry typo

15:00:16 From Bob Wyman : How do we forget always forget that the first coders were mostly women?

15:05:33 From Kay Chopard : Digitalsista’s comment on algorithms reminds me of another good book - Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil – an American book about the societal impact of algorithms. It explores how some big data algorithms are increasingly used in way that reinforce preexisting inequality.

15:05:55 From Marc Davis : @digitalsista amazing quote : “There is no tech fix for the human condition.”

15:06:06 From Kay Chopard : +1

15:06:16 From Carly Huitema : +1

15:06:26 From drummondreed : +++1

15:07:00 From Hessie Jones : Thanks Shireen!!

15:09:02 From Kay Chopard : @Dave Crocker agree about active listening. And listening for understanding

15:09:26 From Marc Davis : The bad behavior Dave Crocker is describing I call “Listening with your mouth.”

15:11:31 From Marc Davis : The techniques of “Active Listening” and “Nonviolent Communication” (NVC) are truly helpful tools.

15:11:56 From Kay Chopard : +1 Nader totally agree. I think we all have to start with ourselves

15:13:12 From Nader Helmy : +1 Bilaal

15:13:16 From Nader Helmy : It’s a spiritual change

15:14:06 From Judith Bush (she her) : +1 Bilaal

15:14:21 From Judith Bush (she her) : I like "really changing how the table is built"

15:14:30 From drummondreed : “Really change the way the table is built” <== profound

15:14:43 From Kay Chopard : +1

15:16:13 From Chris Raczkowski : Suggestion. Could we hear from anyone (everyone) who is not a white, male for at least the next 30 minutes - after Markus’ comment? This needs to be a session of learning, where we hear the voices that are not normally heard. Or - more correctly - not heard enough.

15:17:53 From Karyl : +1 Markus - identity isn’t static or narrow in scope or range, so diversity or the ability to build products that are flexible in scope and wide in range is sort of entailed in doing the job right. literally.

15:17:56 From drummondreed : Bill Aal said “build the table differently”

15:20:00 From Nader Helmy : @Karyl totally agree. What would IIW look like if all the companies building identity reflected identity in the real world?

15:20:20 From Carly Huitema : +1 being asked to make the coffee/service

15:20:27 From Nader Helmy : This community is amazing in so many ways, we should want to make it better

15:20:50 From Dave Crocker : What should IIW do differently?

What should IIW-related organizations do differently?

15:21:59 From Kaliya Identity Woman : So yes chris…and at last IIW we had a session about diversity and inclusion and it was basically only women and people of color… I’m suggested drummond calll a session to explain/share his recent eye opening and this is the first session every on diversity that I’m hearing white men talk about their culture and issues <— a big part of this problem is related to this culture and how men in leadership within our community now - to reflect and actively make change.

15:22:48 From Riley Hughes : Kaliya, I actually really liked last IIW’s session as well, because the few white men who were there learned a LOT from a more intimate group. FWIW.

15:22:51 From John Phillips : One of my favourite antidotes to blinkered thinking on Identity is the work of Kwame Anthony Appiah. Eloquent and erudite, and a fabulous story teller. His series of BBC Reith Lectures on how we mistakenly use colour, creed, country and culture as identities is wonderful to listen to.

15:23:54 From Judith Bush (she her) : argh

15:24:02 From Riley Hughes : However it is interesting to see the difference in attendance in last IIW’s session and this one.

15:24:52 From Judith Bush (she her) : The new table will be less comfortable for people who have been at the table all along.

15:26:39 From drummondreed : We need a movie about Shireen!

15:27:01 From Michel Plante : +1 Drummond +1 Shireen

15:27:06 From mary hodder : Using zoom means everyone gets to be just as big.. the women with our voices can be heard just as big, Shereen can be just as big.. we can follow her, just as big. Having this conference on zoom, really changes some things. She can be the leader now, and that’s hard to achieve in person.

15:27:26 From Nader Helmy : The key here is to listen to Shireen when you leave this session too

15:27:26 From Marc Davis : +1 Mary

15:27:48 From billaal : +1 Maureen and Nader

15:28:09 From Darrell O'Donnell : +1 Nader - and I’ll add support her and other’s when we see ideas being shot down instead of being nurtured.

15:28:09 From drummondreed : +1 to Mary

15:28:13 From Karen Hand : We know the IT community struggles with EDI (equity, diversity and inclusion) - a call to action - how does IIW and ToIP be leaders?

15:28:18 From Dave Crocker : The comfort at the table depends on one's priorities, notably 'winning' versus 'best' (or, at least, 'better'). Ego vs. Group benefit.

15:28:32 From Carly Huitema : +1 emails are totally different when the writer thinks I'm male. It blew me away, I didn't expect it.

15:28:36 From mary hodder : one metric for me is having POC leaders and the white people are willing to follow them…

15:28:56 From mary hodder : In one group I’m in, we have a black woman leader.. and a bunch of white people follow her

15:29:16 From Nader Helmy : Someone asked about concrete changes we can make... scholarships that come with positions of influence

15:29:42 From digitalsista : Karyl I don't think suspending identity is the solution

15:30:24 From mary hodder : and she told us she tells people that she has this one group, where most of her groups are a mix, of a bunch of white technologists.. and we follow her.. and it’s kind of making her think too, because it’s the first time

15:30:37 From Judith Bush (she her) : @dave, i’m thinking about having to be the one who has to bridge communication and attitude differences — instead of asking someone to speak up, or speak less emotionally, or or or — instead taking on the responsibility to understand without asking the other to change.

15:31:21 From Judith Bush (she her) : And Lucy is saying it well

15:32:10 From Karyl : I agree, and at the same time, I wonder about the implications of our newfound ability to do that online [the majority of our connections right now]. @shireen

15:32:34 From drummondreed : +1

15:32:52 From mary hodder : +1 Lucy

15:33:02 From Kay Chopard : +1

15:33:41 From drummondreed : Outsiders very welcome!

15:34:51 From Marc Davis : @Shireen, your voice and experience are so important for all of us to hear. To you, @Kay, @Kaliya, @Mary, and everyone: What are some things IIW can do differently on the level of individual behavior, group processes, and the community and unconferences, to address systemic racism and sexism in how we communicate and work together?

15:36:10 From Kaliya Identity Woman : Thats a good question marc

15:36:32 From drummondreed : Yes. Can we take that up next? We have 10 mins left…

15:36:53 From Chris Raczkowski : Great comments, Lucy. Thank you for this perspective! You’re a qualified leader in the SSI space.

15:37:05 From Chris Raczkowski : (For all others - I have had the good opportunity to work with Lucy for the last 6 months)

15:37:08 From Marc Davis : +1 @kaliya @drummond

15:37:19 From Dave Crocker : @judith, after dropping out, I went back to finish college and had a psych class, taught by a newly-minted, Latino prof who knew his topic but wasn't a very good teacher. I was making up an incomplete, and so besides being older, also had some background for the class.

II would sometimes be unsure of his point and would ask him if he meant this or that, and he would say yes. I started noticing that a substantial part of the class had a marked reaction of relief. Their reaction was so pronounced, I started doing similar clarification questions, even when I did not need to for myself. The prof noticed this an eventually thanked me. (He also went on to learn how to teach well.) This was an early lesson in the benefits of facilitation.

15:37:21 From Kay Chopard : @Marc I think there are probably a lot of things if we think about it. Not sure we can tackle it now but we really need to do the work to make it happen. I’m the newcomer and I know @Kaliya, @digitalsista and @Mary probably have some great ideas.

15:37:35 From Lucy Yang : Thanks, Chris!

15:37:43 From billaal : Arnon, Scott David and a few others and I are just starting a conversation

15:38:17 From Kaliya Identity Woman : can you share where we can read about what you are saying?

15:38:36 From billaal : Like Kaliya said!

15:38:44 From Trev Harmon : This is a fantastic conversation, and I'd like to know what additional channels there are to continue to hear the diverse voices beyond this session. Women in Identity is a good start, but I want to know about more channels.

15:39:12 From Trev Harmon : In other words, I'd like more places where I can listen.

15:39:18 From Brent Shambaugh : Just Identity?

15:39:47 From Brent Shambaugh : identity is complex..it might be in ponds where you do not expect

15:39:48 From drummondreed : I’m hoping we can get to that Trev in the 6 mins we have left.

15:40:18 From Kaliya Identity Woman : Are some men in this community possibly open to getting more direct feedback on their behaviors and actions from women and people of color? Some names are being shared about potential folks who are doing work - but not all of them are necessarily “allies” at least not yet - like how can we have pods of accountability or something (I’m thinking off the cuff here)

15:41:01 From Darrell O'Donnell : I am - be gentle though! I want to know how I can be an ally and supporter.

15:41:19 From Sam Curren : ^Same as Darrell

15:41:32 From Trev Harmon : I'm open to all channels, but I think I'm particularly lacking in the identity space.

15:41:47 From Riley Hughes : I definitely am. I’d be surprised if there are men who *aren’t* open to that.

15:41:57 From Dave Crocker : For difficult feedback, it can help to have designated mediators who are known to be available, provide a buffer (or even anonymity) and likely to communicate in a way that is non-threatening.

15:42:05 From Marc Davis : @Kaliya yes absolutely and always.

15:42:11 From Karyl : ^^Kaliya!

15:42:17 From Karyl : send Dave the mediator link

15:42:31 From billaal : I am in!

15:42:36 From Karyl : from the new code of conduct! I’ll drop it in the notes.

15:43:36 From Nader Helmy : One thing I learned in Engineers without Borders is the idea that you don’t sit and build solutions for people. You listen to people and help them build solutions for the things they care about

15:43:41 From drummondreed : Excellent - how will we keep this dialog going?

15:43:58 From drummondreed : Nicely said, Nader

15:44:06 From John Phillips : IIW has already built a "way of working" that includes reminders to people (closing/opening ceremonies, gifts etc.), why not consciously, deliberately, add in some elements that remind us of the need to encourage and respect diversity.

15:44:09 From Darrell O'Donnell : @nader - that must have been awesome experience!

15:44:31 From Trev Harmon : I've really enjoyed this session. Thank you to everyone who attended and especially to those who shared.

15:45:05 From billaal : Human First Tech

15:45:19 From Darrell O'Donnell : http://humanfirst.tech

15:46:01 From Kaliya Identity Woman : We want to convene an Inclusion and Interop Collab - http://humanfirst.tech/inclusion-interop-collab/

15:46:12 From Nader Helmy : @darrell awesome and humbling!

15:46:18 From drummondreed : Is there a date for that yet?

15:46:31 From Kaliya Identity Woman : we need some sponsors to put an anchor down

15:46:36 From David Luchuk (ToIP) : http://informedopinions.org

15:46:48 From Nader Helmy : ++++1 Kaliya

15:47:11 From Kaliya Identity Woman : also we are thinking about education/training for white folks and white men in particular to learn more about how to be allies but also history they don’t know

15:47:40 From Dave Crocker : The human first tech website seems not to indicate who any of the humans are who are involved with it.

15:48:06 From Michel Plante : Excellent session! THANK YOU!

15:48:31 From Dave Crocker : ah. sorry. finally saw 'leadership team'.

15:48:37 From digitalsista : Dave contacting humans is kind of my joke.

15:49:01 From digitalsista : but you found it.