DevOpsDays Boston 2019 – Creating a Culture of Inclusion by Jeremy Hayes

DevOpsDays Boston 2019 – Creating a Culture of Inclusion by Jeremy Hayes


So I’m a little bit of a theater nerd. I don’t know if you know this, but the production
that’s going on right now is being directed by Billy Porter which is kind of amazing. So at some point Billy Porter was standing
here telling people what to do and now I’m going to stand here telling you guys what
to do, so that’s pretty awesome. I feel like I should have a giant hat or a
long, flowing gown. But I’ll make do without. My name is Jeremy Hayes I’m a DevOps engineer
with Liatrio and I want to talk to you about creating a culture of inclusion. Doesn’t that sound really nice? Sort of like world peace or free doughnuts? And there are lots of reasons this is important
to me personally. In my past lives I’ve been a queer activist,
a social justice educator, an out gay man and really somebody who cares about humanity. But then I became a father. And now these 2 Little Darlings Drive everything
I basically do, in addition to driving me crazy. They have me think about what can I be doing
about making the world a better and safer place for them? Because let’s face it we live in a world where
people are treated differently because of who they are and how they look. Some people like to say that we live in a
colorblind society or that we’ve moved beyond seeing race. But often the people who are saying that are
not the people who experience racism on a daily basis. And we’ve all seen headlines about how tech
has a diversity problem. Many of us in the room have probably felt
it ourselves in one way or another. Whether you’ve personally experienced discrimination
or feeling left out, or you’ve just looked around your organization and noticed everybody
here looks just like me. Or conversely, nobody looks like me. According to research from Glass Door, 66%
of job seekers consider workplace diversity as an important factor when they’re looking
at job opportunities and more than 50% of current employees want their workplace to
do more to foster diversity. What we know that is just getting people in
the room with different characteristics isn’t enough. It’s a start, don’t get me wrong, but we need
to take a hard look at the culture and what we’re doing or not doing to be truly inclusive. When I talk about a culture of inclusion,
I mean a place where organizational customs, beliefs and actions truly honor and welcome
all individuals. Where factors like race, gender, sexual orientation,
gender identity, disability status, men 258 health, body shape and size, cultural background,
socioeconomic status, all of these things don’t prevent someone from being fully involved. A place where people are not just invited
in, but truly made a part of the culture. So today I want to suggest some things that
you can do to help create that culture in your own organizations. The first thing is just to be yourself. You are valuable. You bring a unique set of talents and perspectives
to your organization. And you should feel comfortable bringing all
the aspects of your identity to work with you. When we are our whole authentic selves, we
make it easier for others around us to do the same. If we’re going to truly value difference,
we have to make it visible. And when our culture is truly inclusive, the
parts of our identity that make us unique become common and ordinary, rather than strange
or exotic. For example, I talk about my husband in casual
conversation just as much as my coworkers talk about their opposite sex partners. It should be completely normal to ask for
an adjusted work schedule because you’re fasting during Ramadan. We all need to feel comfortable expressing
ourselves to feel safe and included. I was recently attended hashicon earlier this
month and I heard an engineer there talk about how he created a movement that led to the
creation of pride stickers and other swag just because he asked for it. He wanted to be visible as a queer person
in tech, and by doing so he created a space that made it easier for others to be visible
as well. It’s not always easy. Especially if you feel like you’re the only
person like you. But sometimes I think you’ll be surprised
what you’ll find when you ask. On the other hand, if you work at an organization
that doesn’t respect you for who you are, try to find allies within the organization
who can help you bring about the change necessary to create a more inclusive culture. If that doesn’t work, it might be time to
look for a different organization that will show you the respect you deserve. For some of us, that’s easier said than done. I know I’m speaking from a place of privilege
as a cis white male pretty established in my career and not everybody can take those
kinds of risks. The second thing you can do is be mindful
of the words you use every day. I’m not talking about political correctness. I’m talking about being aware of the language
that you use and how it impacts the people around you. For starters, try using gender neutral terms. I have a coworker from California who calls
everybody dude or bro. Basically every sentence either starts with
dude or ends in bro. It’s just what they do in California, right? But he’s trying really hard to change. But like any other habit, it’s hard to break. Or take my husband, for example. He talks about the fact that his father, and
I’m sure many of other people’s fathers did the same thing, taught him that it’s polite
to call a group of women ladies. Hello ladies, how are you today. But that can be perceived as condescending
and you don’t know if everybody that’s perceived as a lady actually identifies that way. There are lots of alternatives and it takes
practice. I encourage you to try it out this week. And give yourself permission to make mistakes. Because that’s what matters, the trying. That’s what signals hey, I get it. And I’m working on being inclusive. It’s not about being perfect and always getting
it right. And it’s perfectly okay to stop and correct
yourself mid sentence. Even that opens up the opportunity for further
dialogue. And I can’t talk about gender inclusive language
without mentioning pronouns. With singer Sam Smith it’s a bid of a hot
topic right now. We need to respect how people choose to identify. I’ve started including my pronounce in my
e-mail signature, my Twitter bio. When everybody is explicit about their pronouns,
including the people whose gender is not typically called into question, it actually makes it
more comfortable for someone who identifies as nonbinary or whose presentation may not
match their pronouns, makes it easier to self-identify and ask to be called what they want to be
called. The third thing you can do is get to know
people as individuals and treat them as such. Each of you is a complete, complex person
with a multifaceted identity, and so are all your coworkers. Try not to rely on stereotypes are about a
person’s appearance or background. At the end of the day we’re all individuals
with our own unique blend of nature and nurture that governs how our personalities manifest. When we start treating people differently
or excluding them, we miss out on the value that they bring to our organizations. A good friend of mine who is a diversity trainer
talks about the tape recorder that plays in our heads. For you young people in the room who might
not know what this is — think of a Spotify play list. [ Laughter ]
These are all the messages that we picked up when we were growing up. From our families, our school, our church,
wherever. They’re all the things that you noticed even
subconsciously. Maybe it was noticing how people were treated
differently based on how they looked or where they were from, or even explicit messages
like, this group of people is lazy or women belong in the kitchen. All of these messages are recorded on the
track in your head, and it’s constantly playing in the background, whether you know it or
not. So now when you see someone who looks a certain
way walking down the street, without thinking about it, you’re calling on those messages
and making assumptions. That’s called unconscious bias. It’s very hard to undo that old programming. Because it’s often rooted in fear, superstitions
and ignorance, and usually the people we got it from were the people we grew up trusting
the most. My husband talks about his mother who basically
has a contention that anyone who doesn’t love animals is evil. And you can’t trust men who wear pinky rings. These are both silly things, right? But those assumptions are always there. But you can undo this too. It requires a lot of self-awareness. One thing that can be helpful is to ask your
colleagues and your friends, people that you trust, what they think your biases are. Having an open and honest conversation about
the biases other people see us displaying can make us aware of our blind spots and open
up further conversation. Try to notice when you’re making an assumption
about someone you don’t know and think about where is that coming from. What are the messages that are playing in
your head. According to the national Alliance on mental
illness, about one to five adults in the U.S. experience mental illness in a given year. Some are more debilitating than others, but
the reality is that most of us will be impacted by our own mental health at some point in
our lives. This can include illnesses like depression
or anxiety or neurodevelopment disorders like learning disorders or autism. The fourth thing you can do is practice empathy
and compassion with your coworkers who might be struggling with any of these issues. For most of us, our jobs are stressful. But it’s usually a positive stress that challenges
us to get better at our work. But we have to understand that everyone comes
with different experiences and needs. For me, standing up here and doing public
speaking is stressful. I mean just check my heart rate monitor. But for someone with anxiety it can be really
hard, almost impossible. James Meickle talked last year about some
great strategies about mental health and there’s a link to that in my slides. The open sourcing mental illness is a great
resource and they have lots of videos and resources on their website. Talking openly about mental health can help
to reduce the stigma around it and help contribute to a more inclusive culture. I’ll tell anybody who will listen between
my husband and I we see two individual therapists and a couples therapist. The CEO of my company talks about he and his
wife’s therapy and likens it to an oil change. Take the time for self-care. We all know that burnout is a real thing. If your company allows for mental health days
or has unlimited PTO, take advantage of that time when you need it and be as open as you
feel comfortable with your supervisor about what your needs are. Fifth. Pay attention to the people in your organization
whose voices and perspectives are marginalized. It’s probably not even intentional. How often have you been sitting in a room
in a meeting and one of the dudes presents some idea. Sorry. One of the women in the group presents an
idea and two minutes later some dude says the same thing and everybody is like oh, yeah,
you’re a genius. This happens all the time, right? Those of us with privilege have a responsibility
to take notice and do something about it. So the next time that female colleague speaks
up, chime in and say hey, that sounds really interesting. Tell us more. Before somebody else can preempt her. We can’t expect someone who’s being marginalized
to always be able to advocate for themselves. If you have colleagues you think might not
be feeling included, check in with them and see how they’re doing. It’s important to have a working environment
that’s accessible to individuals with physical disabilities, but creating a welcoming space
goes further than that. Go beyond thinking about accommodation and
instead look at inclusive design, which focuses on making environments universally accessible
and Taylor and JoAnn spoke about making our products more accessible but we also need
to look inside our organizations. Think about someone with different needs from
yours, what they might need, and make that the norm rather than the exception that they
have to request. That not only helps the person who might need
that accommodation, it’s also a clear signal of inclusion. Make your slide decks and websites that are
easy to read by people with low vision. Provide trainings in a variety of modes for
people with different learning styles. And it’s not just about disabilities. Encourage your company to have lactation rooms,
nap rooms, prayer meditation rooms to make sure your space is welcoming for everybody. The goal is to make sure that everyone is
able to fully participate. I was recently at another conference and when
they were announcing lunch it was like, we have this great chicken sandwich on a wrap
and we have the roast beef on brioche and it’s great and some vegetarian thing. Later I was speaking with an attendee who
had the vegetarian option said she should have known the way they were talking about
it it was an afterthought, lackluster and you can tell she wasn’t feeling very included. If you’re involved in the hiring process in
your organization, take a look at your critical processes. How diverse are the individuals in your candidate
pool. How can you actively reach out to candidates
that have traditionally been underrepresented? Find organizations like the Resilient Coders
we heard from this morning. Talk to them and hire their amazing engineers. Remember that unconscious bias we talked about
before? Be especially mindful about it. Research indicates those with ethnic sounding
names in western countries are less likely to be selected for an interview than those
with western sounding names. Notice when you’re treating candidates differently
based on their eye identity. If you see a female and a male candidate exhibiting
the same behavior, do you treat them differently. Consider antibias training for your recruiting
teams and hiring managers. And after hiring make sure you have clear
objectives and explicit criteria for promotions and reviews. This morning we had a chat from underrepresented
groups in tech one of things we ever touched on was that. A lack of clear expectations and smart goals
makes it really for unconscious bias to sneak in. At all of these DevOps Days conferences, we
have codes of conduct that call out what behavior is acceptable and what isn’t. Encourage your organization to have one for
itself, and be public with it. People who have experienced harassment or
fear experiencing harassment are more likely to join your organization if they feel it’s
going to be a safe place for them or harassment won’t be tolerated. The 2018 women in the workplace report found
that only 27% of employees say that managers regularly challenge the bias language and
behaves when they observe. And just 32% think their company swiftly acts
on claims of sexual harassment. But it’s not just sexual harassment we need
to be aware of. Don’t tolerate jokes about mental disorders
or bias language about women, racial groups, LGBT people, anything. When you see behavior that’s inappropriate
or disrespectful, speak up. Change won’t come if we’re all silent. Finally, take the time to learn about the
experiences of people who are different from you. Look for books, podcasts, blog posts from
a variety of perspectives. The uploaded slides from this presentation
have links from some suggested resources that you can check out as a starting point. I was just reading a thread on Twitter earlier
this month about how to be less of a, quote, clueless white person, without asking people
of color to do the work of educating you. And the suggestion was go right now, follow
50 people of color on social media and just listen. Don’t comment. Don’t even retweet it. Just listen. And you can do this with any identity that’s
different from yours. So that’s it. We’ve solved the problem, right 1234 seriously. These are my ideas of what you can do today
to help your organization and yourself be more inclusive. I hope you took away something that can be
helpful, and remember this is a journey that we’re all on together, and none of us are
perfect or have all the answers. I really appreciate the opportunity to talk
with you today. Please check out this link. Give me your feedback, download the slides. If you don’t get the Pearl Jam reference in
the URL I can’t help you. Thank you for being here today. If you would like to talk more about it, please
find me in the hallway. Thank you. [ Applause ]

Author: Kennedi Daugherty

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