Nope it won’t be televised, but it may be postponed because Facebook was down. Sometimes we can be so trifling. And WE know who WE are… ;)
I sent the following (although here, somewhat abridged) to a list serve I am on:
I am writing as it seems that we are again having an industry-wide conversation about diversity…egads!!!!
This is, if my memory serves me correctly, the third or fourth time in my career that I have seen diversity come up in the valley. As I recall, there was an uptick of discussion and awareness around the lack of “diversity” in tech 3 years ago, roughly around the turn the century , again in the mid-nineties, and I am pretty sure I recall one in the late 80s.
I’d like to share some thinking i have over the course of my career around all of this
Reality vs folklore
I wonder if *we* need to collectively look a little more closely at the reality of the valley vs. the folklore of the valley which serves as the official “history”.
Part of that reality is the genesis of valley culture and where it came from. Who was present early and what influence that has had on the look and feel of the valley today ? or in a more verbose fashion;Since the valley started as sort of a loose collection of interests and personalities, who was there early on, and how much did that set of players influence and color what we know today as the valley ? Hint: it was all dominant culture folks
I contend that as much as the valley tries to paint itself 1) as uber-enlightened 2) meritocratic and 3) purely market driven, we in the black and latino communities should look more critically at the valley considering both the past and current narratives which serve to characterize it.
Who is asking the right questions ?
The latest round of media coverage for “our” problem (I love how this is collectively our problem now; and counter that notion with some recent commentary by Chris Rock ) seems to always ask how we can improve diversity. Without fail of course, there are plenty of embedded experts, usually from the dominant culture working in valley, who have what sound to be reasonable answers which focus on solutions advocating diversity based approaches. I offer that we have been through this wash-rinse-repeate cycle several times
What’s the old saw: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results”. To wit,putting a new skin on “diversity” and redeploying it with the expectation of significantly different results as compared to previous diversity efforts seems to qualify as an example of the insanity described above
I remember some years back when Jesse Jackson came to town demanding more diversity. An HP exec wondered publicly what Jesse was talking about because as far as he (a white male) could see the valley was diverse, meaning he saw non-whites working in tech companies.
That’s the rub; there is some diversity in the valley, just not for blacks and latinos.
Language IS important
I used to believe that the ideas and concepts around an initiative were the most important components bar none. I have come to realize over the years that the language used in articulating these same ideas and concepts is AT LEAST as important as the ideas and concepts themselves. Chalk it up to being an engineer all these years. I figure it’s better late than never for some things :)
Equity and Inclusion -> Diversity
With all of the above in mind, during last couple of years in which I have been active in the social justice space around education. I have learned that more important than diversity, is the notion of “equity and inclusion”. Attack the challenges from a perspective and/or programs which aim to improve equity and inclusion in the social justice sense.For me, diversity is at it’s core, a qualitative approach and measure of change in this context, i.e. a number.
Working towards greater equity and inclusion requires a more holistic approach to effecting change in a community; it has the constituent characteristics which include examining systems, structures , individual beliefs and behaviors as they pertain to attitudes, norms, operations and hopefully capacity for change within a community.
Working towards greater equity and inclusion however, is a long game strategy, and does not “scale” as quickly as using a diversity based approach. This makes things even more challenging as the valley is not famous for patience, or slow incremental moves towards scale.
Additionally,at the end of the day, if all of this work does not include real self reflection by the dominant culture of itself on a personal level, OR in other words, real work in white privilege and entitlement along with work on systems and structures we will find ourselves witnessing deployment of the usual diversity based approaches, and we know how effective those have been