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There is still a lack of diversity in tech, and engineering leaders are realizing the influence, and the responsibility, they have as a catalyst for change.

But what is the extent of the challenges being faced by underrepresented groups in tech? And where can you begin to make the change you want to see?

In Examining underrepresentation, the experiences of different underrepresented groups are explored and shared, with a view on what’s really going on in our organizations and how we can all do better.

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Episode 1: A data-centric approach to understanding underrepresentation and its impact

In this article, Tutti Quintella explores the facts and figures surrounding what’s really going on regarding underrepresentation in the tech industry. Tutti highlights that ‘the contributing factors and the consequences of [underrepresentation] are so hard to measure’ that ‘it’s rare to have an honest discussion...on what can be done about it’.

Using a wide scope of recent studies, Tutti focuses on the gender gap in particular and strives to answer the questions of ‘What is happening to women in tech?’ ‘Why should my business care?’ and ‘What can we do about it?’

Her deep dive provides guidance on the truth of the industry and how, by investing in the four areas of attract, develop, retain, and promote, the landscape for underrepresented groups can change for the better.

Episode 2: Judging how diverse engineering teams are with The Will Test

William Hill introduces nine questions to ask in order to evaluate the inclusivity of an organization. He twists the classic rubric of The Joel Test to ask the following: 

  1. Are there any minorities in management or leadership?
  2. Are there resources for maintaining your mental health?
  3. Is there an established Code of Conduct?
  4. Are org charts and titles clearly defined?
  5. Is the path to promotion clearly defined?
  6. Does the company invest in career growth?
  7. Does the team recruit through diverse channels?
  8. Is there a dedicated DE&I team?
  9. Is there an internal mentorship program?

William explores each question in further detail, focusing on what significant information the answer can offer. The goal of The Will Test is for an organization to then do the work to become ‘a benchmark that other companies strive to reach for in order to create more inclusive and equitable workplaces for all.’

Episode 3: Accessibility from the start

Diana Macias shifts focus to the user in this article, and begins by explaining that ‘as software leaders, we build products that people use on a daily basis, and it's important that we make them usable for everyone.’

Diana is a Senior Software Engineering Manager at Twitter and explores how her org is putting accessibility at the forefront of its work, stating ‘my team at Twitter understands that accessibility is a requirement, and that it shouldn’t be motivated by legal compliance; it should be done because it’s the right thing to do.’ Diana writes that they drive this using the concept of universal design.

This article follows the journey of integrating accessibility into the product development life cycle at Twitter: the approach of the changemakers, the power of persistence, and the roadblocks they encountered along the way.

Diana finishes her article with a final statement on Twitter’s goals – ‘Our mission is to make Twitter work for anyone, anywhere, on any device, and with any assistive technology.’

Episode 4: On being Latinx and an engineering leader in the United States

This article is an in-depth writeup of a roundtable discussion LeadDev hosted; focusing on the tech industry through a Latinx lens. The event invited several Latinx leaders from across the United States to discuss the challenges they face, and how they can use their position to support and uplift their community, and folks from marginalized groups.

Attendees shared their experiences of navigating the culture of the workplace and used each other to soundboard ideas about the work they could do to better the industry for their community. It was discussed that the increased influence that comes with seniority should be used to drive change in individual companies and the wider tech landscape, cultivating a better environment for those who follow. The conversation that followed surrounded mentorship – both being the mentor and mentee – and the power in actively expanding their own networks with other Latinx engineers.

The participants left the discussion inspired to harness their newfound network to expand their own engineering community. They wanted to uplift their peers and continue sharing their experiences with each other to empower Latinx folks in tech.

Episode 5: Perspectives on what a culture of belonging actually looks like

Rather than focusing on making everyone feel the same as everyone else; belonging focuses on allowing individuals from disparate backgrounds to feel valued and embraced for what makes them unique.

This conversation revolved around how different engineering leaders approach belonging in their org, with our panelists – Erica Stanley (Acting General Manager, Mozilla Hubs at Mozilla), Yenny Cheung (Engineering Manager at Rasa) and Michael Montano (VP Engineering at Twitter) – and moderator –  Jason Wong (Founder of JWong Works) –discussing Diversity, Inclusion and Equity (DEI) challenges, and learnings from their own experiences.

During this discussion, our panelists explored:

  • How to assess a company’s DEI efforts when job-searching
  • Integrating equity into your own hiring processes and career growth criteria
  • Adapting belonging initiatives during COVID-19 and remote working 
  • Getting buy-in for promotion of flexibility and time off
  • The benefits of integrating belonging
  • How to handle folks who are not interested in DEI

A final takeaway

As Diana Macias stated in her article, ‘never underestimate the power of persistence’, and persistent is what folks must be when it comes to putting in the work to better the landscape for underrepresented groups in tech.

It’s clear that solving the issues of underrepresentation in the tech industry isn’t going to happen overnight. But change is possible, and engineering leaders have the ability to be the catalysts in making it happen. The content in this series explores how to harness the power that comes with engineering leadership to make those steps towards change.

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Perspectives on what a culture of belonging actually looks like
Episode 05 Perspectives on what a culture of belonging actually looks like
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