As we all collectively bid farewell to 2019 and welcome the beginning of 2020, XR Inclusion (XRI) would like to take a moment to reflect on the potential this new decade offers to challenge the status quo and forge a new, more inclusive, path forward within the XR industry.
First, let’s take a look back. The 2010s turned out to be a revolutionary period. During this time, the inequities faced by marginalized groups became an increasingly important topic of discussion and direct action. Our collective cultural response to myriad forms of racism, sexism, and other types of bigotry could be seen in a wide variety of places — from street protests for LGBTQ+ rights to the brave testimonies of #MeToo sexual assault survivors.
As a society, we all became much more aware of injustice and began exploring real solutions. For example, in the tech industry, despite 2019 being a record year for venture capital raised by women, female founders still only received 2.8% of total capital raised, with black female founders raising only 0.0006% of total venture funding over the last decade. As far as we’ve come, we need to do better; study after study shows that companies with diverse teams outperform their less diverse counterparts, leaving no excuse to deprioritize diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) efforts.
This new focus on DE&I is an incredibly positive trend and XRI is focused on applying these principles to the emergent XR industry. XR, or extended reality, a broad umbrella term covering virtual, augmented, mixed reality, and other spatial computing technologies — has also grown enormously in the 2010s. Initially a small, niche industry advertised mainly towards gaming, XR has matured into a serious enterprise solution for many large companies, across multiple global industries that is estimated to create over $2 trillion in enterprise value over the next decade (PwC). As the world embraces new DE&I initiatives and XR technology, the two topics should be brought together harmoniously to help ensure greater equality within our new digital worlds.
The last decade helped teach us the value of diversity and equality and demonstrated the importance of its practical application. Gathering real-world metrics and measuring actual impact is essential when seeking to affect real change. As our culture and technology continues to change and grow, XRI seeks to apply past lessons learned to the present and future of the XR industry. The XR ecosystem is still young, which gives us a perfect opportunity to instill best practices from the ground up. This will ensure that XR companies and professionals are aware of the issues that exist and will encourage them to be inclusive of all voices, from all backgrounds. We plan to help achieve this goal by gathering and sharing important data about the state of DE&I in the XR industry, creating initiatives to drive action, offering access to resources, running mentorship programs, and through the amplification of diverse creators.
XRI is a democratized organization founded with a shared vision of a more equitable future. As we look towards a new decade of technological evolution and social progress, we see the breathtaking potential to build these new worlds free from the social ills of the past. XRI exists to help ensure that this time around, we do it right by applying painfully learned past lessons to consciously build a more inclusive future. We pledge to do our best to ensure the XR industry is built to be as equitable and free from bias as humanly possible.
This new year — and new decade — give our community the potential to build a future where the XR industry, and all the digital universes it powers, are created democratically, by a diverse group of equal and empowered creators and professionals. A place where everyone is included, every voice is heard, and bias and discrimination is vigilantly monitored, addressed and corrected. XRI seeks to help build this future and we encourage the XR industry to infuse the values of diversity and inclusion into the DNA of our developing ecosystem. In hindsight, we’ll know we did everything in our power to help make the world as fair and equitable as it could possibly be. We will have given the XR community our absolute best efforts to ensure that our new digital worlds are better than the ones before them.
Ultimately — silenced voices are a loss to everyone. Let’s focus our efforts on including all voices in the critical conversations that shape the future of our digital world.
This is our mission. This is our vision. We welcome everyone who shares these same ideals and goals to join us by reaching out today. Learn more at XRInclusion.org or say “hi” at email@example.com.
XR Inclusion Council