I have spent the last year and a half, traveling the world talking to groups of various sizes about the need for improving the health of our technology cultures and communities.
- I’ve talked about the need for and strategies for mentoring.
- I’ve encouraged individuals from underrepresented groups to share their stories.
- I’ve given 100s of hours of my time “having coffee”, in an effort to help people successfully transition into tech.
- I’ve conducted research on the economic and business arguments for inclusion and diversity for gaining competitive advantage.
- I host and produce a podcast designed to have honest and frank conversations about inclusion and diversity in tech.
- I’ve listened to stories of people who have been harmed by past and current exclusionary practices in tech.
- I’ve designed and facilitated curricula focused on providing the information leadership and decision makers need in order to make effective changes in these areas.
- And everyday, I read a new story about how some organization or community is now dealing with the fallout of piss poor policies, processes or procedures.
And for all of the accolades I’ve received for doing this and so much more, I have yet to be paid to do the work that I constantly see people on social media complaining isn’t happening.
Because it’s easy to complain.
Yes, it often comes from a place of pain but complaining is a sign that you’ve come to accept the pain as normal. It’s uncomfortable and often annoying but you are still able to go through your day until you see or hear something that reminds you of your pain, which justifies more complaining.
So as I listen and watch people, organizations, and communities in tech increasingly expose, to the world, their issues with inclusion and diversity, a part of me wants to complain.
- I want to complain about white men expressing their surprise that a person with my level of experience and expertise has to start each conversation with my list of credentials before some people will even entertain what I have to say, when they have none and are instantly seen as experts when they talk.
- I want to complain that I’m constantly asked to provide proof of my success at various scales, even after I’ve given a 50 minute presentation, when I’m in an industry that at its foundation is about experimentation and that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for addressing these very complex and often explosive issues.
- I want to complain that I’ve discovered that this is a clever way of getting consulting advice for free.
- I want to complain about the fact that people assume that anyone can do my job and that my years of experience learning to manage group dynamics, designing approaches for differentiated instruction, and the expenditure of more money than I care to share in order to develop a well-rounded understanding and practical knowledge of successful business practices aren’t contributing factors for my unique perspective.
- And I could go on.
But honestly, what would be the point? Complaining is reactive in nature and there’s no “real” power in being reactive.
So if we’re not complaining, which is the reactive thing to do, what is the answer?
What is the proactive way to improve the discourse and health of our communities and organizations?
We Stop Complaining and We Take Action!
We admit that we have a problem.
We recognize that we have challenges that only someone with specialized skills can help us solve.
We would never think of substituting the star quarterback, during the Super Bowl, on a game winning play with someone who is not equally or better able to handle themselves in such a high pressure situation.
We demonstrate that we value these issues by allocating resources, including lots of money, to funding people and projects. There is no reason, with all this complaining, that someone like myself should have to start a Patreon campaign. I am running a business!
The work I do is no different than any other role that is well-paid in tech, except that it is the role that the foundation of your entire organization’s or community’s reputation rests on.
So yes, the issues of inclusion and diversity in tech are hard and painful to address.
But how bad does it have to get before we stop complaining and get to work?
You can contact me on Twitter: KimCrayton1 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org