By: Dom Brassey
Two weeks ago, Leanne Pittsford and I visited SXSWi on behalf of Lesbians Who Tech and TechUP and hit the scene in full-force Bucket List mode. The interactive festival is a showcase, summit, and laboratory for tech innovators and tech influencers. We hung out with @Pandora, @Code2040, and @FastCompany. My #fangirl vibe was strong.
Officially, we were there for Lesbians Who Tech — and to promote TechUP, our new program aimed at broadening and increasing diversity in tech. Through TechUP, we actively recruit badass tech talent from all groups under-represented in the industry’s creative class (leading creators, designers, and engineers).
We then connect these folks to companies who believe that inclusive teams are stronger, smarter, and better. Through a TechUP Career Fair, we orchestrate a curated cultural exchange between diverse talent and companies committed to #techinclusion. We have a good day when this means great people get hired into positions where their talent will thrive.
Sometimes it takes a commitment to magic to create the right opportunities. And if anyone’s committed to magic — TechUP is your team for the job.
Everyone’s Got D&I
The diversity and inclusion conversation was everywhere. Unconscious bias. Implicit bias. Transparency. Homogeneity. Under-representation. Raising the bar. Finding the right fit. Fixing the pipeline. And my particular favorite (@USCTO Megan Smith): “Accessing the talent.”
D&I is a great conversation because we can’t boil #diversityproblems down to one cause. Ultimately, our industry’s supply of top-tier tech talent is impacted by everything that marginalizes the safety and self-actualization of women and girls, people of color, people with disabilities, queer folk, older workers, military veterans, and the rest of the whole human rainbow. Turns out, inclusion is “good for business.” And it starts so, so, far in advance of your offer letters, guys.
So Where Was Zoe Quinn?
SXSW canceled her panel (about harassment and threats in online gaming) because the festival received threats of violence. Read about it on Vox. Seems like being an ally was a little beyond SXSW. Welcome to our world, guys. Violence is scary and disruptive. If only women would stop bringing bringing it to festivals, we could all be safe. #inclusionfail
Tech Inclusion: Austin
@Techinclusionco @ClintonFdn and @Galvanize threw Tech Inclusion: Austin, a great nine-hour series of panels focusing on different diversity subgroups. Lesbians Who Tech Founder Leanne Pittsford ran with the LGBTQIA heat (moderated by @meganrosedickey) and per usual re-routed the conversation away from “How many letters should be in our big gay acronym?” and towards arguments for equal compensation, legal rights, serious data collection. Veterans, women, people with disabilities, older workers, and underrepresented minorities in tech followed suit. @Atlassian hosted in champion style.
“Everyone has always been awesome.”
@USCTO Megan Smith was also everywhere, speaking on inclusion from every angle. At Tech Inclusion: Austin, she gave a closing keynote highlighting leading programs and underscoring the inclusion of real women creators (like Joanna Hoffman who invented the Apple Macintosh GUI) in the stories we tell through our media (Joanna is shown ironing Steve Job’s shirt the Jobs movie).
On the importance of media representation, Megan Smith insists: We don’t need to:
- Smurf our movies (include one woman character)
- Minion our movies (include no women)
- Fail the #Bechdeltest
(And we don’t need to do any of those in real life, either.) It’s a good reminder to the creative class. We live in the world we hire around us. Inclusion is like a deep breath. You can’t be awesome if you aren’t breathing. Access ALL the talent.
We’re excited to be back in Austin (at Atlassian) on Saturday, May 7th. Sign up here to attend our TechUP Career Fair for Diversity.
Become a sponsor at www.weTechUP.com