Actions anyone can take to help diversity & inclusion

I got involved in Diversity and Inclusion work at Automattic in three very simple ways that didn’t involve me having any special skill, role, level of experience, or years at the company. For folks who might want to get involved but don’t know how, I think you’ll find these three ways to be the building blocks to further involvement:

Ask questions.

We have townhalls at Automattic where we can ask Matt, the CEO, anything. Seriously – anything. My first question was whether we could add language to the creed specifically highlighting the importance of diversity and inclusion. These kinds of townhalls might not happen at your organization but I’m sure there is someone whether it’s your manager, your direct reports if you’re more senior, HR, a D&I manager (if you have one!), etc. who you can ask questions of. What questions do you ask? Here are a few:

  • What is our approach to increasing diversity and inclusion here?
  • Who is in charge of this work?
  • What data do we have to track the work we are doing here?
  • What are we struggling with when it comes to diversity and inclusion?
  • What are we doing well?
  • What are we doing to make sure our products are inclusive?

Show up.

Is there a conference in your area that focuses on women in tech? Ask to go to it. Go on and look at events happening in your area. Ask what events are happening at your company that you can go to. If there are educational opportunities for D&I, make the time to go. Show up and show support. Bring others with you. Listen to those who are struggling at your workplace, who need more resources, and keep an eye out for those who aren’t represented among you.

Show up for those already doing this work. Ask them questions. Listen. Find out if they can use the skills, connections, resources, etc that you can offer.

“But I’m a ____”. We need all of you in all positions. I promise you there is work to be done where you are.

Don’t feel comfortable doing this at your company? Go look at local organizations in your community who are doing this work. Send an email and list your skills. Volunteer :).

Educate yourself.

There are LOADS of resources. Don’t put the burden on those in a burdened position to educate you. To help get you going, start here (courtesy of my coworker Andrea Middleton):

Diversity 101

How Prejudice and Bias Works, and everything else from the Required Reading section of Angry Black Woman

Racism 101 for White People

5 Stages of Unlearning Racism

Geek Feminism: Resources for Allies (below are some articles called out specifically that are listed on this page too; if you read everything from this resource list, you’ll have covered lots of the below as well)

The Male Programmer Privilege Checklist, Cisgender Programmer Privilege Checklist, Economically Secure Tech Worker Privilege Checklist, Open Source Male Privilege Checklist

Ally Smells (think “code smells”): Fear of Speaking Up, Boundaries, Appropriation

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These three steps led to nearly 3 years of direct work on diversity and inclusion for me. It started by me asking a question.

All of these take time. Don’t have time? Have money? Awesome – donate. Here’s a great scholarship to support lesbians who tech.

Photo courtesy of WOCinTech.



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