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Lending Privilege for Increasing Diversity and Inclusion

| by Ben Linders Follow 8 Followers on Apr 20, 2017. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes | NOTICE: The next QCon is in San Francisco Nov 13-17, 2017. Join us!

We need a grassroots movement to increase diversity and inclusion in the tech industry. Everyone has privilege; lending it to marginalized groups can make it happen, claimed Anjuan Simmons. If we have a diverse tech industry we will all win, as lending privilege increases value for everyone.

Anjuan Simmons, technical program manager at Questback, spoke about lending privilege at QCon London 2017. He will give a modified version of this talk at Craft 2017. InfoQ is covering both conferences with Q&As, summaries and articles.

Simmons started his talk by stating that it is important to make technology the diverse and inclusive industry that we want it to be. Everyone has privilege and can lend it to marginalized groups in tech to make this happen, he said.

He explained the difference between diversity and inclusion using organizing a party as an example. You can increase diversity by sending invitations to a variety of people; whereas inclusion means that the people you invited feel welcome to your party. Inclusion requires empathy, said Simmons. While diversity is easy to achieve, inclusion takes more work.

There are studies that prove the value that diversity and inclusion bring, but many senior managers in corporations still don’t believe it. As a result, they won’t work towards it; therefore, we need a grassroots movement, argued Simmons.

He gave an example based on one of the first books on open source, The Cathedral and the Bazaar. This book shows how individuals were empowered and given tools to create an operating system from almost nothing. One of the lessons from this book is that given enough people, any problem can be solved, said Simmons. There’s a history of grassroots movements in open source, so let’s harness that movement towards a positive change.

Privilege is about providing access to benefits. It is human nature to share privilege with people who are like us, but it is far more powerful to lend your privilege to those who lack it, argued Simmons. Lending privilege increases value for everyone.

Simmons provided three ways to lend privilege:

  • Credibility lending: lending visibility to those less privileged, for instance by inviting someone to the next board meeting.
  • Access lending: an example is sending someone to a conference where you have access and can provide an entry to share their expertise.
  • Expertise lending: for example by appointing a person to be the lead of your next project.

Lending has to be a philosophy of life. If we have a diverse tech industry we will all win, said Simmons. He stated:

Once you start doing this and get to know people from a different race or gender and find out who they are, you will probably see that they are very similar to you, more so than you expected. You will see that they care about the same things and find ways to help them.

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There is no "privilege" by Bam Ezu

Coding skills were granted by no institution. Coding is available for everyone online.
There is no "privilege" to be lent, only skills to be learnt.
Why so many people think building social hatred is a good thing ?

Re: There is no "privilege" by Jaron Schut

Because SJW race baiters do not want to acknowledge that certain cultures like the asian and classic northern european/american ones promote education and work ethic in contrast to many others. Excusing mediocre performance on factors you cannot change, absolves people of personal responsibility. It makes money for the race baiters since they artificially create the reason for their own existence. There is no racism nor sexism in the economy, only in the personal choice of people how they choose to educate themselves and pursue their carreers.

So sick of this by Vitek Cvachoucek

So one of the few remaining advantages here in the West - technical disciplines - are to be destroyed by the spill over of cultural marxismus, gender fanatism and multi-culti insanity?

Re: There is no "privilege" by Charlie Wilson

Wow. the 1950s called. They want their attitudes back.

Seriously though. if you actually believe this please spend a little bit of time educating yourself. Throwing around stupid terms like social justice warriors, and misusing terms like race baiters just makes you sound pig ignorant and stupid. At the very least please, please spend 50 minutes of your life and watch this:
www.infoq.com/presentations/programmer-unconsci...

It's really not hard to grep that people from different backgrounds to the dominant background in a group (i.e. non-white, non-male in IT in the west) are at a significant disadvantage in the work place. In the most basic terms this is because we tend to surround ourselves with people who are like us. This is really basic psychology 101 stuff - it really isn’t difficult to understand.

It also isn’t hard to understand, and has been demonstrated and measured many, many times, that this it to the detriment of the entire IT industry. Diverse teams always outperform monocultures. The IT industry as a whole has been slow to wake up to the fact that it has a deep problem here, but it is, thank goodness, finally doing so.

The idea that that IT selects people on merit is draw-droppingly stupid. I’ve worked in iIT for 25 years and in all that time more than half the (male, white) programmers I’ve worked with are useless and haven’t got the most basic understand of what a computer does. Interestingly all the female programmers I’ve worked with (which, it has to be said, is a grand total of 5) have been way, way better than the majority of the men.

Re: There is no "privilege" by Jaron Schut

Congratulations on your intelligent ad hominems. Can you give ANY evidence on your assumptions?

More males study IT then females and is definitely not because any future male IT employees scare their female students with sexism. More Asian and also white students study IT then black and latino students and that is definitely not because of racism.

The same holds true for any exact sciences like mathematics / chemistry / etc...

Please provide any evidence of your claims... For my claims just look up any work done by Thomas Sowell and other real economic scientists.

Re: There is no "privilege" by Charlie Wilson

Sure.
In terms of hiring A 2015 paper in Organization Science, summarized in this HBR article, suggests that people overestimate the amount of conflict that actually exists on diverse teams.
hbr.org/2016/02/the-biases-that-punish-racially...

This type of unconscious bias can clearly have a significant impact not only on hiring but also on the ways in which leaders create teams and encourage collaboration. 

Generally an industry that is rife with racism and sexism as ours is tends to discourage people from joining. My own daughter is a fantastic programmer but has no desire to join the industry. Seeing stories like the Susan Fowler one I can say I'm surprised. www.susanjfowler.com/blog/2017/2/19/reflecting-...

W/R/T the generally point about Diversity:
In a study published in Innovation: Management, Policy & Practice, the authors analyzed levels of gender diversity in research and development teams from 4,277 companies in Spain. Using statistical models, they found that companies with more women were more likely to introduce radical new innovations into the market over a two-year period.
www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.5172/impp.2013.1...

In another study, published in Economic Geography, the authors concluded that increased cultural diversity is a boon to innovativeness. They pooled data on 7,615 firms that participated in the London Annual Business Survey, a questionnaire conducted with the UK capital’s executives that asks a number of questions about their companies’ performance.
www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ecge.12016

A 2009 analysis of 506 companies found that firms with more racial or gender diversity had more sales revenue, more customers, and greater profits.
journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0003122409...

A 2015 McKinsey report on 366 public companies found that those in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in management were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry mean, and those in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15% more likely to have returns above the industry mean.
www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organizatio...


A 2016 analysis of more than 20,000 firms in 91 countries found that companies with more female executives were more profitable.
www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352...


In a global analysis of 2,400 companies conducted by Credit Suisse, organizations with at least one female board member yielded higher return on equity and higher net income growth than those that did not have any women on the board.
www.credit-suisse.com/us/en/about-us/media/news...

A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology using a mock jury found that the diverse panels raised more facts related to the case than homogenous panels and made fewer factual errors while discussing available evidence.
www.apa.org/404-error.aspx?url=http://www.apa.o...

Greater diversity may also change the way that entire teams digest information needed to make the best decisions.
journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0146167208...

Sorry for the rush on this - there's tons more, of course, but I'm a bit busy to find it all today.

Re: There is no "privilege" by Jaron Schut

"Generally an industry that is rife with racism and sexism as ours is tends to discourage people from joining."

I cannot understand how you state this. Do you have any proof of racism or sexism where people with the same education and years of experience are paid differently based only on gender or racial background?

Again real scientists like Thomas Sowell have investigated claims about racism and sexism in all industries and found none to exist.

Based on statistic evidence that Asian immigrants seem to make more money on average then their white colleagues only appears to strengthen the claim that there is no racism.

There are more latinos studying in America then asians yet asian PhD's in subjects like chemistry outnumber latino PhD's by a factor 9. Do you think that chemistry educations are racist and favour asians over latinos?

"A 2016 analysis of more than 20,000 firms in 91 countries found that companies with more female executives were more profitable." "In a global analysis of 2,400 companies conducted by Credit Suisse, organizations with at least one female board member yielded higher return on equity and higher net income growth than those that did not have any women on the board."
That proves what point? Did they take into account different industries have different genders that attract to the work? No body seems to complain about lack of diversity male/female in the industry of street cleaning... These kinds of statistic science is absolute bunk because it does not compare apples with apples.

The porn industry is another great example for you... Lots of female employees and lots of money to be made. But I do not think it is good example or goal of diversity in the workplace.

Re: There is no "privilege" by Charlie Wilson

"Do you have any proof of racism or sexism where people with the same education and years of experience are paid differently based only on gender or racial background?”

Why do you assume salary is the only indicator that matters?

Why do you think there are fewer woman entering IT than there were a few years ago?
Why do you think firms like Uber have lost essentially all of the female engineers?
Do you imagine that the level of vitriol that people like Kathy Sierra, Brianna Wu, Zoë Quinn etc. etc. doesn't have an impact not only on them but on lots of other woman who want to enter the field? Are you OK with that treatment because they are female?

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