Diversity is Not Just a Checklist

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Diversity is Not Just a Checklist
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Many organizations say they want diverse teams. In this talk, I address how, beyond recruitment, individuals and managers can create a culture that sustains a truly diverse environment. Using my own transition, starting out as a functional business analyst, to working as a DBA before becoming a DevOps/Infrastructure Engineer, I discuss how individuals and managers can take specific actions to foster creativity and diversity of thought and empower team members that may be subject to unconscious bias. Culture is a choice, and every team member makes a difference, regardless of their level. Good culture benefits everyone, and communication is key to creating good culture. I will discuss how specific communication choices can help anyone enable their team to create a positive, productive environment.
Focus (optics) Data management Energy level Staff (military) Checklist
Axiom of choice Inclusion map Inclusion map Presentation of a group Integrated development environment Telecommunication Video game Cuboid Bit Quicksort
Point (geometry) Functional (mathematics) Implementation Divisor Sequel Confidence interval System administrator Gene cluster Database Wave packet Data management Coefficient of determination Operator (mathematics) Autonomic computing Configuration space Computer-assisted translation Traffic reporting Error message Physical system Boss Corporation Focus (optics) System administrator Stress (mechanics) Expert system Database Division (mathematics) Configuration management Word Data management Integrated development environment Personal digital assistant Telecommunication Website RWE Dea Functional (mathematics) Arithmetic progression Spacetime
Point (geometry) Observational study Open source Gender Token ring Multiplication sign Set (mathematics) Mereology Wave packet Single-precision floating-point format Data conversion Systems engineering Task (computing) Physical system Collaborationism Boss Corporation Dependent and independent variables Arm Compass (drafting) Gender Shared memory Expert system Configuration management Demoscene Degree (graph theory) Data management Personal digital assistant Normed vector space Spacetime
Word Group action Inheritance (object-oriented programming) Checklist
Point (geometry) Slide rule Complex (psychology) Group action Multiplication sign Connectivity (graph theory) Real number Resonator Online help Mereology Information technology consulting Wave packet Different (Kate Ryan album) Boundary value problem Endliche Modelltheorie Information security Traffic reporting Boss Corporation Theory of relativity Variable (mathematics) Checklist Type theory Data management Process (computing) Personal digital assistant Telecommunication Video game Website Speech synthesis Right angle Summierbarkeit Musical ensemble Whiteboard Pressure
Complex (psychology) Observational study Multiplication sign Insertion loss Open set Wave packet Number Formal language Mathematics Scalar field God Collaborationism Dependent and independent variables Scaling (geometry) Shared memory Database Maxima and minima Instance (computer science) Entire function Type theory Proof theory Data management Integrated development environment Personal digital assistant Normal (geometry)
Collaborationism Execution unit Shared memory Open set Revision control Inclusion map Inclusion map Integrated development environment Personal digital assistant Normal (geometry) Data conversion Position operator Spacetime
Axiom of choice Context awareness Multiplication sign Decision theory View (database) Translation (relic) Mereology Formal language Medical imaging Bit rate Ideal (ethics) Representation (politics) Energy level Contrast (vision) Data conversion Endliche Modelltheorie Imperative programming Computer-assisted translation Exception handling Collaborationism Boss Corporation Dependent and independent variables Arm Weight Cellular automaton Gender Shared memory Stress (mechanics) Bit Median Mereology Flow separation Inclusion map Data management Process (computing) Integrated development environment Configuration space Video game Game theory Quicksort Family Resultant
NP-hard Point (geometry) Presentation of a group Multiplication sign Direction (geometry) View (database) Set (mathematics) Mereology Graph coloring Wave packet Power (physics) Formal language Roundness (object) Cuboid Flag Position operator Descriptive statistics Chemical equation Sound effect Process (computing) Integrated development environment Universe (mathematics) Video game Right angle Table (information)
so diversity is not just a tactless I feel like companies HR frequently use diversity as a trendy buzzword that focus on the facts of a person for example I'm a clear salvation Hindu woman but sometimes of and this is a story that's told by the background of the engineers individually and collectively I'm afraid this talk on the story of my background and how that's influenced the teams that I've worked on and what I want you to get out of this talk are actionable ways that you can support your diverse staff this talk is not based on is not for managers alone it's meant to be for engineers at all levels to show support for the diversities
so in this talk I will talk a little bit about who I am I'm going to define diversity what it looks like white you want it and how it plays out in reality I'm also gonna talk a little bit about advocacy why it's needed and it what it looks like and the fact and to dispel the notion that you need to be some sort of superhero diversity champion to actually make a meaningful impact on a person's life and I'm also gonna talk about inclusion and what inclusion how an inclusive like inclusive environment can create a positive feedback loop that creates a more positive culture to support diverse teams
so this talking about this then asks and hold their unique path by a lot of people and and then ask how I got to where I am today if you'd asked me a decade ago if I was going to give a talk about diversity I with emphatically said no because I'm a technologist and a tech conference so why am I not giving a talk talk well a decade later I have frequently been the only 1 woman only brown personally day personally gender not boxes conforming presents the only Hindu on my teens and therefore the composition of my teams matters a lot more to me today and that the communication choices it employed by the engineers that I work with as well as myself matter a lot more to me so that's why I'm giving a talk that diversity to help promote the well-being of your staff and in particular in diverse so as we discussed
and queries operation the fun factor was born and raised in Texas in Houston you while I have of money is the 2 cats and a dog and I'm an amateur work but I'm I If you was up until recently a senior Infrastructure Engineering here only knows not act in a highly autonomous training division I now the director site reliability active campaign and have been for the past week I'm Chen as we've already mentioned I was up the school teacher a DBA business analysts a database developer etc. the so common get here knows
what your when I worked at here I so I started my career In tag actually wanting to work on the tax side but I was told because I have really great communication skills that I should be and I will be more successful I should work on the functional side and that as a young what salvation woman growing up in Texas in the eighties and socialized to believe that you shouldn't contradictory elders were superior is in this case that was my supervisor and so I actually started my career intact as a functional business analysts and when I noticed as I was doing this is in progress is that I was gravitating words words the reporting side working with sequel writing macros and like just generally getting involved with scripting and so what happened there is that eventually I was in a space where I met a DTA was willing to lend me and so through her mentorship I started to get more and more involved in the actual database administration there's 1 particular system where I was the functional expert on it was a legacy system I was the functional expert and on and so I started getting more traction and more involved in the management of the database and eventually there was a team member of the gene 18 that ended up leaving and so the work on the DVD that is being mentored by had increased considerably and so she gave me that database to manage entirely and it also I 1st taste of being in a fully tapped role and it was really exciting to me and through that mentorship it gave me the confidence to go out and find a role as a DBA and trading and in this role because of the mentorship and experience and of expressing interest in no sequel and so my boss was super excited he was like great gonna tell happens you can have it we were were about implement monogenean last search they're yours now you won't and then he was like 0 yeah by the way we need the re clusters of each of the modern these will be 3 no clusters in the last search will be a 7 clusters and use them up like now I know you're really doing that so this seems like a lot of work it seems somewhat brittle it seems prone to error but when I heard some of the infrastructure engineers talking about was this magical thing called configuration management now I've been working in finance so unsurprisingly in 2009 not a lot of financial firms had been using configuration management up until this point and so this was new to me and so I had expressed an interest by telling me boss I was like hey you what it is that these environments including might be a little more resilient if I use configuration management the and he was super excited was like right here's our expert please bear with him and solve this problem and so that's what led me to doubts ended From there I ended up I'm becoming the old stock expert and then I growing he skills to which led to my career infrastructure today now the main words that I'm talking about enabled me to follow a career path that I love instead of 1 that I tolerate and so I wanna focus on how we can all be those men words and be this and facilitate more diverse members of our community to follow a path that they love as well yeah so why do I care about
diversity well look at it arm but also seriously my background necessitates right so because I followed a nontraditional path follow the systems engineer path to being a dumb oxygen here so I bring skill sets to my teams that would otherwise not be there but that also means that I need some compassion and empathy and collaboration to fill in the spaces where I don't know everything and if we have a collaborative team that enables knowledge sharing there are 2 scene can be stronger so what
is diversity where do I find it and why I want diversity is not just about race or gender it's also about the skill sets that people possess in my case the fact that I was a young woman with a liberal arts background made it so that my vocational interests were overridden by the facts of the and I'm certain that I'm not the only person that this has happened to picking up on an example with no 1 configuration management not i . into mean to be the person to take this part like there's nothing in my background it means the special what was special is that I expressed an interest and a manager at the time token that interest and turned it into real concrete skills and so I'm sure that you heard being usual advice that if you don't ask for what you want you're not going to get and while that's certainly true it goes directly counter to 20 years of social 20 or so years of socialization that I have saying that that would be rooted in inappropriate so while I have been working on asking for things more directly what the things that I do and other people who may share my cultural background may do it is to use a soft task a soft acid is where I expressed interest in a skills or training or something to gain the interest of the person I'm talking to because if they're interested and I get a positive response will continue the conversation if they're not interested then I know that I'm not going to be supported and so I this past what was really remarkable about the situation it was then is that the my boss not only listen to what I was saying but he did 1 better he told what I was saying at face value and then he extrapolated on it and was like hey do you wanna do this thing or how I make it easier for you to do this thing so if we all try and do that been are teams can actually diversify their skill sets so why is this useful so in the case of the trading firm at the time there was 1 expert in configuration management will degrees is but when my boss paired me up with him and I also became another person that was an expert so you're eliminating single points of failure 2nd configuration management system that we were using at the time his mother duty as the back and we're having a lot of problems that now I was the expert at monitor the so I actually figure out what the problem was and by appearing with this guy I found out how it was trying to write the returns down and I fixed that problem so not only did we make it seem more resilient we also reader tools more recently so that's an example where diverse teams can produce better solutions and thirdly what my boss did for me was that he was growing my skill sets so that I was I felt more satisfied and happy and and public is doing something fun at work so he was buying my will t it took a little effort on his part to listen more closely to his employees but it ended up with tremendous gain the so there are a lot of studies that show that
diverse teams are more successful but there are only going of articles being written right now about diverse candidates going from toxic cultures so why is it that a check was is not enough it is purely
and user would example so I name this kind words my wife as a Christmas present as super that indicate a lot of attention to what it would look like in the appearance so I put her maple in the center and I'm like that the grain and I boarded was action 6 months
later this is my kind lord what happened well because I was more focus on appearance and motion the toasted ashes now Borland and 1 of the site and 1 of the sides because what is a living thing it moves over time and different kinds of would have different types of when movement by aligning all the grain I just compound in that issue so I could avoid but thinking of the components of my design instead of just think and how they respond to different variables instead of just the appearance so what we're talking about people and not about would so what is that look like in real life love so and to take an example from very early in my career at my 1st job I was a consultant a bank as a business analysts and it was my review times and so it was like really your answer I love you everything you're doing is great you break Communication Skills quite relation of musicals also but you're really short with this guy n he's being and that everyone's notice in your usually so personable what's going on I'm really disappointed so yeah that really have so then I was this is my review right so I feel obligated to respond but up until that point I had sent anything because you know I urban Texas inmates you talk about sexual resonance model why because in my experience what I witnessed is that women are a disbelieved being made to repeat that experience and then dispaly began and see even if they are believed nothing actually happens so In this sense so what actually happened is I said hey lots so I don't know how to bring this up to you but I feel really uncomfortable because this guy is staring at me by staring Edmond Andresen you would arise which I'm sure every woman in this conference would have been that happened about and that he stands to close like if I turn around and touching him and like it's just making me feel really uncomfortable and of course what happened is exactly what I'd expect it my boss said to me well this guy just came over in a he's really young and I was hoping that pressure so personable you could teach mandatory with yeah for real so so this let me know that this cutting board valued the comfort of my male co-worker and boss more than it valued my safety or security and shortly thereafter I will offer cutting so the 1st so
how would help diversity right 1st and dispel the notion that the person I was talking about in the last slide is a bad guy people are complex and the more than the sum of the parts of the people I use in my slides are all people I highly respect and like the work with again so in this example that manager in a really complex reporting security actually report to keep operating eraser promotion he didn't have to but he's also human and he made a mistake in this case it's a pretty egregious mistake but also like to remind you that it's been a decade since this happened and the world has changed and therefore our sensibilities have also changed along with it so it is OK to have the but that guy that new young guy but the other person in the story also had a point I have a point that I should not have to feel uncomfortable every day at work so in an ideal situation when I was looking for was not for someone to take action with the fire him anything what I wanted to happen was to have my manager so here when I was saying and actually say something to this dude like hey you're at work here were some boundaries don't stare we're or stand on top of your co-workers the so that's that's a highly charged situation and there are some other situations where you may not find a solution but there is also other ways of of diversity private for example in the example with my boss from the training for his opening up the worse for me he was showing how he was using mentoring impairing to actually diversify my skills to give me things that I needed and to actually really help his school be a better stronger teams and that's a really good way to help diversity or so when speaking
about those examples with my manager from the training firm those are all examples of advocacy and I wanna talk about 2 types of advocacy today 1 is self-advocacy and the other 1 is advocating for others examples are given so far are advocating for others with my manager and the DDA work with where they were opening doors for me by knowledge sharing training camp and in the case of my manager actually opening up new responsibilities in my role it but the other way
is that engineers can advocate for each other as well as a very useful way is the amplification so there are studies that show that women's voices are not heard as well as now this study talks about a lot of complex details around language a minimum investigate that yourself but any instance where we're talking about women's voices not being heard as well and have this happens me a number of times and 1 way to talk about is the amplifier other people's voices which is to repeat their ideas and give them credit by name so 1 of the most frustrating times that this happens to me were I wasn't giving credit was when I did a proof of concept as a mother yet so the there was a damn team I was working with and they were having some performance issues and In these performance issues of what I did is that at the time we have like a giant box from under the the and that's not how it hello it but that's not how it scales the scalar by shot so I didn't hear see and by starting the database as aside 20 % performance gain with no other changes so so I will put this back and it never got movement now a couple months later we were talking at my male counterpart and I were talking to this team and they were complaining that pre performance and we both said that you need Sharjah database more than a year later begin a shot the databases still credited the male deviate regardless of the fact that I didn't herbivore content of the document at 20 per cent performance gain so it doesn't have to be intentional when this happens my male co-worker was trying to take credit he was just repeating something that was a fact which is that 2 scale among scale horizontal but even if it's unintentional it can have a negative impact on the career of the diver stuff that surrounds you so it's really important to be mindful no really positive examples is that at 19 in here I and I really thought that an individual team member could change the entire culture but he's until I met my coworker Ross no rust does this thing that's really awesome and also sometimes really embarrassing which is that he credits you with your ideas and it could be something as simple as when I 1st in the team we need to other 4 and had suggested the best layout and this encouraged she has increased our collaboration Ross was so excited he was like this is the best layout ever 0 my god look at where she's also known this is so amazing I love RIAs ideas and instance of this like half a dozen times was mortified I but that's is a lot more about the environment I've been than it does about anything else right and what would happen is that he would say it it's crime and stand to but if you helped him with a story he be like only was really on the story but we have this idea in some problem so and so by Ocoee acknowledging each other's accomplishments when he was doing was that he was amplifier voices they just do it with me he did it with and what I noticed is that because he did this consistently we all started to do it on our team so when you all acknowledge each other's accomplishments openly binding when that happening is it's not just amplify the voices of your team members inserts amplifying your team starts creating this open culture of collaboration where knowledge sharing is then 1 were knowledge sharing is made a priority and therefore everyone still sense are valued equally and so that's what that also does is that because knowledge sharing is now the norm and it's considered high value it empowers your team members to
advocate for themselves especially as a diverse person coming from a background where this is not always the case it's particularly important to have a space where you know that you can have a T. herself this unit even if you're in a toxic environment you kind of have to advocate herself to get anywhere that's just reality but if you're in a positive environment knowledge sharing and open collaboration is the norm this is a great way to be able to advocate for yourself because not only are you not only are you in an environment where you are comfortable but by mentoring imperial team members you can and will win in the environment that surrounds you and you can feel out what opportunities are available to you and since speaking about a culture of
collaboration this brings me to inclusion so to better support diverse teams including everyone in the conversation is a really crucial steps when I feel included in a conversation I know people here what I'm saying and give me credit for the ideas that I have that more willing to participate fully in you might unfold on and onto the LDA version of my ideas which leads to more creative and better solutions because you have the full participation of your team so talking about a conclusion can be a
little bit tricky because it what because sometimes not be inclusive is not always deliberate it's not always a deliberate decision to exclude people from the conversations so there was 1 of them in was and where there are a bunch of guys that started at a private chat channel and it started sports but I didn't Sports and Gaming but it did early and there and I was eventually by invited to that channel several months into my job but when noticed is that the guys that Regina engineers interns had been invited for quite a while back and that some of the stuff that was going on in this private chat channel is that a lot of the guys were asking the senior engineers really simple questions now asking questions is good because that's knowledge-sharing rate except if it's in a private channel models is that due to everyone that's not in that channel it means that when I was not a natural I didn't know that there was an imperative knowledge sharing I didn't know that people were receptive to asking and answering questions I don't know whether it was safe to ask questions or whether the perception would be that you're uninformed and that you're not out about consuming member of this team so it creates a culture of fear instead of a culture of collaboration In contrast to that should there was a time here right talking to my coworkers recently about immutable infrastructure and the median problem you will infrastructure and at this time it felt a little bit dogmatic to which was weird because that's not what he's like not watching was like but what was interesting about this is that Russell I had just done a lot of work to make our chef configurations much more resilient readjustment a bunch of time on a recipes and cookbooks because that was enrolled for deployment so membrane-impermeable infrastructure and like using Dr. images remise instead was just you know felt very invalidating at a time but was really cool about this conversation is that in the middle of the conversation we said hey I just I clarified that I'm talking about immutable infrastructure as a philosophical ideal and don't invalidate the work that you just did and I don't wanna say that the work for you that you've been doing in working with configuration management is a valuable and may not realistically be the right choice for the situation at work in I believe that you will infrastructure is the ideal what's really rare about this example is that I'm very very seldom have really heated philosophical convers technical conversation with someone about best practices where they took the time to stop and check it in and validate that the respect your ideas they respect you as a person and that they want to bring you into the conversation so that we can come up with the best solution we can really determine what the best practices are instead of defending an idea and dismissing your ID because I know that when my ideas are dismissed I no longer feel safe to bring my unfiltered ideas to work I Use of Russell as examples because in my experience their ordinary engineers who were extraordinary because they try to build a collaborative environment by checking and using inclusive language and showing general respect for the people that they work with you think that these are really simple but it is actually very powerful how you use your language at work and how well that translates into an inclusive environment those examples were us was giving us credit that creates a positive feedback loop it creates a positive culture and a positive feedback loop that builds your team up shutting down and dismissing ideas does the exact opposite now being new at work the
it I can tell you that as a new person it can be really anxiety producing mentioned a lot of people when their 1st at work suffer from impostor syndrome which I do as well and but if 1 of the things that you may not realize is that as a member of many underrepresented communities I also feel weight on my shoulders to be a representative of those communities I feel like it I don't know what I'm doing and if I fail I have now let down all of my communities and that the door diversity is close yeah so in those 1st few days of work which really helpful and what my bosses help me with wearing that currently it is something we're showing people in using your language to show support for diversity initiatives to show support for not always knowing something and were growing and learning in your environment it helps to build an inclusive environment and another thing that I've noticed is that you know once you're at work right 1 of the things that many of my coworkers and sent to me is that you know you I'm a standby everywhere you'll find me like homework outside of work wherever I'm just the same guy that is not experience I share as a member of the community I definitely feel out my environment to figure out where it is safe to present my full self for example I don't bring my whole cell to my family I don't look like this when I go home and look like this when I go see the community that I was raised and because it is not well received while my wife has been welcomed with open arms being gender nonconforming is much more challenging so going back to that soft ask people in your environment maybe in when willingness until they feel safe enough to bring the whole cells to work something that's been incredibly meaningful for me was that my co-workers Ross and we showed me that they're listening and hearing my ideas consistently and they would check in if they felt like there was any sort of misunderstanding so that they can clarify that they respect and care for me as a human being was critical to me realizing that it was important to bring my whole self to work understanding that people with different backgrounds may not feel safe to present participants also is not enough when I was hiding part of myself there's a low level of stress that I feel because there's a risk that someone might find out something that I don't want them to know and I don't know how they're going to respond not being able to gage that response can feel very personal and very risky and demonstrating that you're listening and hearing what they say build that trust to bridge that gap the creating an inclusive environment should be a nice to have it should be something that always exists because that's how the prize that's how we bring our results to work In view being inclusive helps find and support people from diverse backgrounds and advocating for the success in Paris team members to contribute to the fullest remember to listen here and ask team members what they want and lastly raise your awareness whenever possible this talk may be a 1st step but it should not be the end of the journey if there's nothing else you can think of doing simply remembering to name the person when you hear a good idea and give them credit can have a really meaningful impact on a person's life and her career and it's a concrete 1st step you can take because is the most conference I can't resist a cat
and kept its forever right and I will open up questions of economic and you read the Austin John or I will open up to questions is please wait for me to be the microphone so the room voice which is I as let
allow a set really hit home for me I'm to think you off the that I'm just quick like an enough anybody else have suggestions there's something on but ways in which we can bring diverse candidates to the table to begin with especially especially on intact what your experience was kind you know we all have stories but so sadly that's a really hard question for many answers because of honestly like I know that there must be other like lesbians intact but the only time this has happened to me is once at that training for most talking about and when that happened at that 1 of the guys I earnestly did we know each other because of course there are only 2 lesbians the losing the color in the box in the city of Chicago of course and so it's hard for me because most of my co-workers have been male and unfortunately mostly white to like there some other ethnicities but are part of the myth of the pipeline problem right is that it's not that there's a pipeline problem but who do you know right and if I look at who I know I mean it's a 90 per cent of engineers at work well are not diverse so I mean I think part of it is just not working right like 1 of the things I've done in Chicago is to try and work with girl develop it and like other and I think there's a a black syntax slackened need up then like stuff like that so like just try and reach out to your communities of color because there are times in candidates everywhere I promise so I guess to that effect when you evaluate whether you apply for a job you consider job what are the things that attract you from your background and your point of view and 1 of the appliances make you think this in the place of more so I think that's really hard right it's hard to tell from the outside of what it's like I'm not what I usually look for is during my interview what power people treating me because there are definitely those jerks that you know in an interview that 1 like make you feel like you don't know something that a red light in your life on that and then also but just talking about how their teams work together if you start to notice that there's if people talk about their individual accomplishments and never as a team but also kind of a red flag so I mean it but it's it's a very personal right like this is my personal style of figuring out and so this is mostly a common only the 1st question in just some ideas like 1 thing that we've done is if we have an open position and only white males who applying to it really keep an open until we find someone else to apply to a least because the thing is is if you can't get someone who's not a white male to apply doing something is wrong with yeah you're not working and so you need to fix that you can just like keep perpetuating but it can also be something that's wrong with the language in your job description is I know that for me I'm far less likely to apply to a job if I don't have like 90 to 100 per cent of the skill sets and is totally not true for my male counterparts who thinks that she should be really appreciate it you're openness and because when you here's your presentation and I think we all learn a lot from and sold on the diverse that breeders consists the Poland and the universe and how much have you seen that and I guess this in your environment and your efforts of reaching out to them to do diverse backgrounds and utilizing diverse interview slates it'll diversity panels in the people are actually doing the interview and make sure that you have women you know people of color all almost have also those people come in there being interviewed by people to look like or people that that can appreciate you know where they come from How much using that so what and I don't know about seeing it change select so the last thing is working out here but they actually have a very diverse environment so it was easier for us to actually have a diverse interview panel because of the people that are working very was composed of sometimes that's not possible and so then that's really challenging then you're just trying to figure out who the best matches to try and make an interview panel but you also away someone's time because of the skill sets don't match like if the person that you want an interview room doesn't have the skill sets that you need for the interview then that can just feel like a waste of time on both peoples parts so I don't think it's so I think that you it's partially what's in your environment already and also about respecting the person that you're bringing in time right so there's a fine balance to that but if we do have someone that is more similar to a diverse candid with the appropriate skills that I do think it's very useful to have them as part of the interview team regardless of if they're going to be on that direct steam on thing so much as that 1 more round of applause for abuse coach at the