At Business Insider’s Ignition 2016 conference, a panel on smart bots included exclusively male panelists.
So this month, I set out to find these “elusive” figures in tech. I put out a call
on Twitter, asking for people to send me their
recommendations for cis women and others who aren’t normally asked to
speak — including women (especially cis women of color and trans women),
non-binary folks, and anyone else identifying as LGBTQ.
I got over 1,000 responses in under 24 hours. Read more (5/2/17)
On May 8, 2017, at precisely 11:41 a.m., I walked onstage at the San Francisco CTO Summit to give a talk titled “Tech and Inclusion. Why So Difficult?”
At $995 for the session, and with over 200 attendees, the event was billed as being presented by senior engineering leaders from startups (more than 75% are chief technology officers, vice presidents of engineering or directors of engineering). Previous presenters were the CTOs and VPEs of Stripe, Coinbase, MongoDB, Zenefits, Warby Parker, Squarespace, Shopify, Birchbox, Tumblr and CustomInk.
As I took my place on the stage, I looked out at the crowd and posed the question, “Who identifies as an African-American?”
No one responded.
It was if no one had noticed until that moment that the makeup of people in the room and the title of my talk were strangely in alignment.
With all the ongoing conversations and controversy surrounding inclusion and diversity, it is surprising that a tech conference in San Francisco — which bills itself as a place to learn and connect with your peers — allows this to happen.
Let’s unpack what makes it difficult.
1. Inclusion takes work.
You have to expand your network and ask for help from people you are not accustomed to asking for help from.
2. Inclusion is uncomfortable.
The conference organizers knew the title of my talk months in advance. How awkward would it have been for the conference organizers to ask for help in finding people of color to attend and present? Probably less awkward than me calling it out onstage.
3. Inclusion means changing the way you think about everything.
— Leslie Miley (@shaft), a Silicon Valley native who has held engineering leadership roles at Slack, Twitter, Apple and Google. Read more
Think of a major technology company. There’s a decent chance that whichever one you thought of was among the 97 firms filing an amicus brief on Sunday — against Trump’s travel ban.
The brief, which has since been widely shared online, argues that
the 90-day ban is illegal and that it will
discourage foreign workers from seeking employment in the U.S.
“The Order represents a significant departure from the principles of
fairness and predictability that have governed the immigration system of
the United States for more than fifty years,” the brief reads, and
“inflicts significant harm on American business, innovation, and growth.”
Companies listed on the suit include Apple, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Microsoft, among others. Read more