How can we promote diversity and inclusion in TC39?

This is part of my report for the last TC39 Meeting. Check out my November 2016 TC39 report for other topics here.

It was about time to address the elephant in the room. If you have ever been to a TC39 meeting, you can notice the delegates are predominantly white cis males. Regardless of the different technical backgrounds we might have, this is bad as it does not reflect JavaScript developers and consumers — our dear users.

The topic was titled How can we promote diversity and inclusion in TC39? and that’s fair enough. We need to work on fetching the answers for these questions both inside and outside TC39.

Internally we were able to understand a few things:

  • TC39 is not a welcoming place, especially for someone from underrepresented backgrounds.
  • We need not only to raise efforts from the ECMA level, but mostly from the company members.
  • We are aware of valuable companies and experts not willing to attend or join, due to the nature of TC39.
  • Diversity is an important issue we want to work on. It is important for us to work on making it a less intimidating place.
  • We (TC39) missed the opportunity to improve ourselves as a group after incidents in the past.

How do we start?

Defining a Code of Conduct is probably a good start to establish we won’t tolerate abusive behaviour and we have something explicit allowing us to speak up against any harassment.

We’ll also have the representatives working within their member organisations to promote more diverse representatives, through scholarship, sponsorship or even diversification of their member team.

I know my own representation is important. I know how much my presence represents to a lot of people from my country (Brazil), even if it just breaks the false idea that it would be impossible being part of TC39.

I was once encouraged to be part of TC39, and for that I believe it’s part of my mission to pass that forward, not to a specific group, but to everyone that can collaborate on making TC39 a place where people from many backgrounds feel represented. It’s a long journey, but that’s part of the mission.

With that, I was able to secure TC39 will extend our charter to include social commitment to committee representative inclusion and diversity. I honestly hope this — and the CoC — becomes official documents of ECMA and TC39.

You read scholarship and sponsorship

Yes, and that’s exciting as something most company members can offer to people that are interested to work with standards. Companies agreed this is possible and not hard to accomplish. Even though, there’s not much done yet, but I’m willing to contact people and see what we can do, together.

How do we succeed?

We can’t say we’ll completely succeed in the next meeting, but this is certainly a progressive road and probably a constant effort.

This is something we can not and should not do alone, I hope everyone can join and make this a collaborative work. For now I’ll leave this channel open, but you can also reach in private if necessary. My email is available on my GitHub page.