I am trying to set up a Diversity Charter for user groups and technical communities worldwide. I think that the tech communities need a ‘badge’ and a Charter to show that they are welcoming and inclusive (assuming that they are, of course) to everyone.
Please note that this is not a PASS venture – it is a ‘Powered by Jen’ venture.
Please join with me on this journey. I can invite you to my Slack channel and I want to say a big Thank You to everyone who has joined already. I’m also working with the transgender community in my area to set up a tech-oriented meetup for them, and we will need speakers and so on.
I also want to call out Steve Jones (https://twitter.com/way0utwest) for his support and thoughtful commentary, and the sane one in our conversations so far! Steve has been helping me all the way on this one, and I want to say a public ‘Thank You’ to him here so that his help is recognized by you all for keeping me moving forward and staying reasonably out of trouble so far on this issue.
For those of you who think ‘what does it matter? Doesn’t everyone matter?’ yes, everyone does matter and by being inclusive, we are not being exclusive. For me it is equivalent to the people who argue against ‘black lives matter’ by stating that ‘all lives matter’. When a house is on fire, you put water on it. You don’t need to put water on the one that doesn’t need it. Only really privileged people think like that and who wants to be that person? I think we should ‘water’ the parts of the community that need extra love so that it isn’t just the 20/30 something brogrammers turning up for beer and pizza who benefit from the fantastic community that we are in.
Please don’t think Diversity = women, or Diversity = LGBT. Diversity is everyone. As MVPs, we are enormously privileged. We received an Award that means people often put their best faces on when they see you. That gives us a position of responsibility; it’s up to us, then, to see how our talents can serve other people, and to see what they need to move forward. As Jesse Jackson said, the only time you should look down on a person is when you are helping them get up.
You can make such a huge difference to someone’s life. On that note, one thing before I go; one of my transgender friends sent me this message about the Charter. I’d like you to hear her voice. “I guess the biggest thing is keep being approachable, being open, non-judgemental. If something resonates with you talk about it, blog about it. Reach out to people who are in those situations, get feedback, their points of view.”
It’s a bit scary doing something like this, and I’d appreciate your genuine and honest help. Fear gets to play a part in my life, but I have decided that I get to decide how much, and I’ve decided to put myself out there and give it a try. I’m not saying I will get it right all of the time. Usually when I try to do a good thing, I find good people along the way and I’m hoping that some of you will care about Diversity as much as I do. This request for help involves anyone and everyone who cares, really. I’d be delighted to see a User group or community event adopt the Diversity Charter.
The idea was inspired by my interest in Buddhism. For those of you in Seattle, Seattle’s Choeizan Enkyoji Buddhist Temple (http://seattlebuddhist.org/) is a welcoming Sanga and this model has been good inspiration for what I’d like to do in the technical community. As an aside, the Sunday service at 10.30am is incredibly welcoming to newbies and if you’re interested, you’ll spend a thoughtful hour with some very wise people.