Engineering Inclusivity with Rich Archbold

Episode 43

How do we build inclusive organizations that actually value diversity? In this episode of Programming Leadership, Marcus talks with Rich Archbold, vice president of engineering at, about developing an inclusion and diversity plan for his company. According to Archbold, organizations must learn to be inclusive of the people they already have before they can become diverse. He says that this responsibility falls largely on managers, who are the most important factor in an employee’s growth and development. Creating and implementing a plan will create a stronger, more creative organization. Failure to act fosters a culture of unconscious bias that results in the loss of talent.

Show Notes

  • What Rich has been learning about diversity and inclusion in engineering teams (1:22)
  • Why diversity isn’t enough (3:33)
  • The shifting power dynamic between employers and prospective employees (7:05)
  • Rich’s 4 Pillars of Inclusivity (9:24)
  • An organization can only become diverse after it has become inclusive (12:10)
  • Managers are the most important factor in an employee’s growth and development (16:41)
  • The “why” and “how” of D&I strategies (19:27)
  • D&I consultants lend credibility and a skilled eye to your organization (24:20)
  • How to tell if your long-term D&I plan is working (26:05)
  • How likability bias affects our judgment (33:41)



Speaker 1: Welcome to the Programming Leadership podcast, where we help great coders become skilled leaders and build happy high-performing software teams.

Marcus: Welcome to the show. I’m Marcus and this is Programming Leadership. I am so excited to have Rich Archbold with me today. Rich is the Vice President of Engineering at, a fantastic SaaS platform which helps you connect better with your customers. This is not a pitch, I’m just saying. I’ve used it and I really appreciate it, but today we’re going to be talking about something very important. I’ll get to that in just a minute. First, Rich, thanks for being on the show.

Rich: Thank you very much Marcus. I’m absolutely delighted to be here.

Marcus: The bit of housekeeping as usual. I’m going to ask you, if you enjoy this show, please go give it a review. Give it a number of stars. We like five stars. Whatever you want to put in the text box for the review is fine, but that helps us know that we’re on the right track and that you are getting something from this show. Subscriptions are always enjoyed as well. Thank you so much for supporting us.

Marcus: All right, Rich. I’m going to just admit to the listeners that this is our second run at it. I failed to hit record the first time. We had a brilliant conversation, and so we’re going to rewind for your benefit. We’re going to start with this idea that Rich said was so important to him when we started, and that was the idea of diversity and inclusion in engineering teams. Rich, I have confirmed, we really are recording this time.

Rich: Great.

Marcus: Tell us how you got interested in this.

Rich: Yeah, absolutely. Diversity and inclusion is definitely the topic that I’ve been spending the most of my thought leadership time over the last year or so, and it’s something that’s been a pretty new focus for me. I’ve been a manager for 15-odd years or so and it’s really only in the last couple of years that the topic of diversity and inclusion has become stronger and stronger and the drum beat of questions have become louder and more important that it’s been just so important for me to go deep on it.

Rich: How these questions have started to come about or why the topic became so important for me I guess, as I was coming up as a manager and I was learning to be a manager, the mentors that I had and coaches that I had, it was very output-focused and outcome-focused and coaching you and supporting you and your team to build the best product or deliver the best numbers. It was very, very, very output-focused, and I think a lot of the engineering teams were more homogenous at the time as well.

Rich: More recently, I would say over the last couple of years, we’ve been getting lots more questions from both folks internally within the company and folks thinking about joining us, asking us a bunch of diversity and inclusion-related questions. Generally the questions have been gender-based, so they have been like, what is the percentage of men versus women in the company, in the org, in the team? What are the rates of pay like for men versus women? What are the rates of progression and retention and attrition like for men versus women?

Rich: Sometimes the questions have been broader like, what is your diversity and inclusivity strategy? These have been hard and interesting questions and always very well intentioned, but sometimes you need to realize that there’s actually a question behind the question, like these kind of higher order matters, and this is the stuff that’s really getting at people.

Marcus: Really?

Rich: Yeah. I’d say what people are really asking is, I think it comes down to some of the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs type stuff like, “Is this a safe place for me to join? Is it a fair place and an equitable place for me to join?” And like, “Can I actually rely on it being like that going forward or is it lock or best effort or best intentions?” For me, I think certainly in some of the companies or organizations I would have been in the past, I certainly always joined values-based companies and values-based organizations where I’m able to identify with the values of the company. That this is a kind company, it’s a people-oriented company. It’s a company that believes in supporting growth in their people.

Rich: But that isn’t good enough, to be honest with you. It can cause things like unconscious bias to exist. Because of things like unconscious bias, good intentions don’t matter. Good intentions aren’t enough. People don’t experience your intentions, they experience your actions or lack thereof as well.

Marcus: There’s a quote right there. Yeah.

Rich: What I think in the last, certainly in the last five years, and one could argue more, people have becoming with the advent of books like Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow, a bunch of the work Daniel Kahneman was doing. I definitely say with Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, which was a revelationary book for me. People are becoming more and more aware of unconscious bias and what it means and why having good intentions isn’t enough. You actually need to have a proactive well thought out diversity and inclusivity strategy that is understood and championed by the leadership team, has the appropriate mechanics and people support behind it. And that actually can be audited and tested before actually making the decision about where to go to work.

Rich: And so, I believe this is the innate thing that people are asking about. They’re looking to make those value-based judgments about, can I trust you? Do you actually know what you’re talking about? Are you credible? Can you actually walk the walk? Past performance is the best indicator of future performance. Can I look back and see what have you been doing in this area to know whether it’s credible or trustworthy for me? And so, do you understand what diversity means? Do you understand what inclusivity means? Do you understand why diversity and inclusivity are valuable things for your business?

Rich: Would you do them even if they were neutral to your business or potentially bad for your business? How far into your values does it have to go? Then, what are the mechanics you have around this? What is the process and system that you have? These are really hard questions, particularly for people who don’t have organizational behavior, college background or anything like that, so.

Marcus: Yeah. There’s certainly not the kind of thing you could just make up on the spot in an interview.

Rich: Correct.

Marcus: Although I bet a lot of people try like, “Oh, we’ve got this and that.” The interesting thing is it feels like just the way you’re describing it, that the power dynamic is a little bit shifting here. I think it used to be like, when I became a manager, it was about the year 2000. Y2K had just finished and the people who applied with us at this company were pretty much just like, “Hey, I need a job. You have a job, please give me that job.” That meant the employer got to make the primary decision about who got employed. But the way you’re framing it now is that the market of potential employees is looking for something more, and they hold the power to retract their own employment if they don’t find a place that’s safe.

Rich: I think absolutely that’s the case. I think the bar for … I think the market’s super hot for one thing. I think there’s definitely more jobs than there are engineers in many of the major markets, like Dublin, London, San Francisco, New York there’s definitely, the war for talent is fierce out there at the moment. But I think there’s also been just a number of other things happening, like movements that have been happening. I think the Me Too movement. I think the Google Walkouts, which is a little over a year ago now, maybe a year and a week or so, that I think have just raised the moral standards generally around the world on this topic as well. So I think there’s definitely, I think Sheryl Sandberg’s book of Lean In, I think Daniel Kahneman’s book about Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow on understanding the world of unconscious bias and behavioral economics. All of these things have led to generally much stronger sense of situational awareness and industry awareness around this topic.

Marcus: I want to go back to something you said and that is, a lot of times when people ask what they are of is gender diversity, racial diversity and I might add sexual orientation diversity to that. But I am wondering, while those might be the big boulders, when you think about diversity, is it really those buckets or are there nuances, like you’ve mentioned other kinds of biases? I’m just kind of probing what does the landscape of diversity look like for you?

Rich: What does it look like for me? I guess what I’ve come to learn or what I’ve come to think is, when you think about diversity and inclusivity, they are actually two very different but related things. The thing I think about at first is inclusivity, because I think it applies and is relevant, even when you have a completely homogenous environment. Inclusivity for me is around psychological safety. It’s around safety for all, it’s around fairness for all.

Rich: It is around equality for all people. It’s where the best idea wins, not the loudest person or the first person. The way I have come to understand and define inclusive culture is one that is objective, fair, transparent and usable. Those are my four pillars for inclusivity. Objective, am I actually making decisions objectively? I will give this project to one of these two people based on this objective criteria. Now, a fair set of objective criteria, which is pillar number two, could be, which person has the most available capacity to work on it?

Rich: Unfair criteria would be, which person am I most like? That is objective, fair, transparent. Is it obvious to everybody how I’m actually making this decision and why I’m making the decision? Then usable/accessible. If I’ve said, “You know what, I’m making this decision based on the objective and fair criteria which are in this document, which is 8,000 pages long of tiny fine print written in legalese,” then it isn’t accessible or usable.

Marcus: No.

Rich: And so, when you think about hiring processes, performance review processes, promotion processes, training opportunity processes, compensation review processes, all of those kind of people systems, the bar we look at, is it objective, is it fair, is it transparent and is it understandable? We actually call it usable because we’re producty people and usability is a thing.

Marcus: Oh yeah.

Rich: So that’s objective, fair, transparent and usable. If we build people processes that are objective, fair, transparent and usable and stick to that over time we actually create a culture that is inclusive. Once we have a sustainably inclusive culture, we then have the right to ask for diversity and have the opportunity to sustain diversity. Because if you try to add diversity into a culture that is not inclusive, it will wash out the other side and that’s actually worse than never having it at all. Because the best brand ambassadors for your company are the ones who are either in there now or have been there in the first place or have been there and left.

Rich: That has been our number one focus, objective, fair, transparent, usable, and it has taken us a number of sessions with some external consultants to get that four-pillar system. We’ve done an internal audit of a bunch of our systems. We’ve rejigged some of our, and so we were able to get a red, amber, green system. A sign off on recruiting versus performance development versus performance management versus leadership versus cultures. And so, able to actually go through all of that lens. That helps you understand just even thinking about inclusivity and why one might be more important to the other rather than both aren’t the same, anything like that.

Marcus: Are you able to share anything you’ve learned as you sort of created those red, amber, green scorecards?

Rich: Yeah.

Marcus: I’m guessing it wasn’t, I mean, it probably was, but maybe it wasn’t green all across the board the day you started.

Rich: I think because we’re engineering, everybody wants to code review everything or everybody wants to peer review everything. We’re pretty rigorous. Engineers are largely mathematical. Everything needs to be derived from something else. We’re big into our principles that, believe it or not, our performance evaluation system was almost as green as it could be. That we had all of our performance rating, so we had a fantastic leveling document. It was expansive, it was rigorous, it was sectioned. We had examples of behaviors and type of work output for each of our different competencies at each of our levels.

Rich: Our rating system was mathematically derived of, if you’re doing more than one competency at the level above that is an exceeds expectations. If you’re doing all of the competencies at the level above, that is an exceptional and a promotion, if you’re doing between this amount or that amount.

Rich: So our performance evaluation process was peer reviewed by other managers and by our people ops organization and by our principal engineers before any rating was finalized. So at performance evaluation we were objective, fair, transparent and usable, absolutely. We were fantastic about. One of the areas where we were not green was around performance development. And so-

Marcus: Can you define that real quick? I just want to make sure listeners understand what is, in your organization, what is performance development?

Rich: How do we support people to grow their skills? How do we support people towards promotion? And so we actually did the audit and we were able to say the rates of progression for men versus women were statistically speaking equal. Men and women were progressing at the same rate. So on one hand you can say we don’t have a problem, but the point of it we looked at was there a system in place to ensure that the rates of progression would always be objective, fair, transparent and usable.

Rich: And if we don’t have a system in place to ensure that, while it’s actually fine now, we can’t actually guarantee that going forward, we are actually relying on people’s best intentions.

Marcus: A broken clock is still right twice a day.

Rich: Yeah, exactly. And so our hiring process was good. We are like biasing for kind people who are humanists who absolutely want to do the right thing in the world, who have the best intention but we haven’t been giving them unconscious bias training. We haven’t been giving them inclusive leadership training, and so you can say what is the most important thing in somebody’s growth and progression? And the fact of the matter is the most important lever in somebody’s growth and progression is their manager.

Rich: If you haven’t been loading up your managers with inclusivity training and giving them systems and tools to make sure that they are unconsciously biasing towards giving the projects to the more tenured male senior engineer on the team. Or giving the project to the fast speaking native English speaking man on the team versus making sure that they are round robining the opportunities between everybody else in the team. Or if they’re not knowing to how to actually count people speaking in a conversation and draw in the people who maybe haven’t spoken as much. Unless you’re actually training them how to do that, you’re leaving a lot of things at risk. You are actually leaving a lot up to good intent.

Rich: And there’s some other things we need to do which is about creating feedback mechanisms and making sure that we are actually appropriately putting inclusive leadership as one of the competencies of our manager leveling documents to make sure that we are holding managers explicitly accountable for this facet of management. Because most people will hold their managers accountable for are they good at strategy and road mapping, are they good at planning, are they good execution? Are they good at growing their people in general?

Rich: I think those are pretty standard competencies and a non-inclusive manager can succeed in that environment, because they could have mostly they could have a large amount of homogeneity in their team and the one person who’s different just comes in, stays for six months and washes out. And they get actually replaced by somebody who looks like everybody else on the team and it’s easy again. So that was the area and it’s really interesting. There is this sophistication bias in there. Our thoughts were, we actually want to create a growth framework. We want to empower engineers, we want to create this thing, we want to put it into the hands of the engineers, want to do this, want to do that.

Rich: The annoying thing is the Occam’s Razor thing is that no, it’s the manager is the most high leverage person. You have to train and hold the manager accountable and then you need to train and hold the manager or managers accountable and let that person know that if their managers aren’t doing well in this, it’s their fault. As much as we would love to make engineers responsible, it’s more so the manager has the outlier influence. They have to stand open, learn, and get their training and be accountable for doing it well and getting better over time.

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Marcus: So we start, so you’ve taken the approach, and I think this is an important distinction. I actually didn’t realize it was the idea of diversity is very different from inclusion. And you mentioned, okay, you start by making what you have, where you have and the people you have safe, included. You create systems by which, okay, we’re not going to maybe start by saying let’s get more people that look different or that act different or think different. The first step is to include everyone you already have. Because if you’re not, that’s sort of fundamental right? That’s, as you said, then you bring in people who have different perspectives and then it’s just makes the problem worse I suspect?

Rich: The first thing is we’ve talked about when somebody says to me, “We need a D&I strategy.” The first thing I’d say is, “Why do you think we need one? What is it you are trying to achieve?” For me, I explain to them, “I think about diversity and inclusivity as separate things.” The reason why I care about it is for two kind of different both connected reasons. The entrepreneur in me says that diverse inclusive teams are the most productive teams out there. When you have many different perspectives from different cultures, different backgrounds, different walks of life, different sets of experiences coming together in an open, safe, collaborative melting pot environment. Absolutely the best ideas are going to come out of it. And I’ve experienced this firsthand.

Rich: The second thing is, those teams are going to be more stable over a longer period of time. People are actually going to have better problem solving skills within each other. There’s actually going to be way less unhealthy conflict when people understand how to be inclusive with each other. That’s like the economist in me says, “This is actually good for business.” And I always try not to get emotional when I talk about this, but I struggle not to is that we all have mothers, we all have grandmothers. Some of us have wives, some of us have daughters. You want to build an environment and build a world that you would be proud to bring them into and think that you are actually building a world living by example where everybody genuinely has equal opportunities.

Rich: And so that’s the kind of emotional feminist in me that said like, “Even if it actually wasn’t good for business, it’s good for the world,” and you would actually do it regardless. I would not want any two people to do the same work and for one person to be treated terribly and one person to be treated better. It’s just not what we are here to do. So those are the two reasons why I do it and then you go, “How do I do it?” And then you go, “Okay, well then the how is, if we’re actually looking to get to is we’re looking to get to an organization, we’re looking to get to a world where everybody’s equal and that all of the smartest people are able to work together as seamlessly on the most interesting things to have the best output.”

Rich: How do I start? I’m going to start in my team and then I’m going to start from my team and go up to my org and go from my org to my company. I’m going to take on things that are attractable to me. I’m going to be the change I want to see in the world. I’m going to educate myself on this topic. I’m going to put together my own strategy and I’m going to test it and slowly push out and push out and push out and push out. And that’s where we come with, okay, our strategy is we understand these are two separate topics, inclusivity and diversity. We understand that we are organizational leaders. It is up to us to know the answers. A good strategy is not to treat the minority groups like your own paid diversity consultants. You cannot walk up to the … If the minority group is like women in your organization which it usually is, you don’t walk up to the women in engineering and go, “Hey, how should I make this better?”

Rich: You are the organizational leader. It’s up to you. If you don’t know, go educate yourself. Hire somebody in who does, and so that was the first thing we did was we went and hire some diversity and inclusivity questions. Those are the people you can ask your stupid questions to, not your staff who’s your job is to be the credible leader for. And at the same time, buy a bunch of books, go to a bunch of conferences, learn, and then start to kind of test your hypotheses on this stuff. So for us it’s very much building our understanding of what inclusivity means, how to engender it, how to support it throughout all of the layers of people and human process throughout our organization. And once we’ve got that done, we can start to think about recruiting. We can start to think about brand.

Marcus: You mentioned a few times you’ve used external consultants in this, and I’m curious, was it important to get fresh eyes on the organization?

Rich: You know, it was very important for us at the time to not just get fresh eyes, because the fresh wasn’t the interesting bit.

Marcus: Okay.

Rich: It was the skilled eyes.

Marcus: Okay, looking for the right things?

Rich: Yeah. So it was important from a credibility perspective to our organization as well. It’s like, “Hey, we’re taking this thing seriously. We’re spending money, we’re getting industry experts in to help us.” If we were looking to solve a really hard database issue, we would actually go to Percona and hiring a bunch of Percona specialists and they would come in and do an onsite audit and put up a big report or whatever. It’s important, we would spend money, we would get the industry experts. We take this stuff seriously and this is exactly the same. We take it seriously. We get in the industry experts, we write up a report, we do our audits, we follow their findings.

Rich: It’s the same with a security audit. You get in the expert pen tester who is actually going to do an open book test, audit your code and tell you everything that’s wrong. It was that, the fresh set of eyes is one thing, but it’s the industry acclaimed independent third party experts coming in I think was the most important thing, but it only gets you so far. You need to do your own reading. You need to, however many hours you’re going to pay for from a consultant, it’s probably add a zero on to that. It’s how many hours you spent reading or going to conferences or listing to podcasts or audio books or whatever.

Marcus: Right. So you’ve got the education portion, you’ve brought in outside experts to take a look at things. You’re creating systems where things aren’t left to accident, you’ve got ways to sort of evaluate those systems it sounds like. How do you know if it’s working?

Rich: That’s a great question. And like what is the timeline over which it needs to work is a different, is another question. That you could ask a question of like, “So how do you know if you fixed your culture, how do you know if you fixed your organization, how do you know if you have a highly engaged organization?” And so what you’re asking is, what is the objective? Over how long are you going to take to achieve that objective, and how are you going to validate your progress? So for me on the inclusivity thing, I would say one of the other things that I’ve been doing is I’ve been setting up women in engineering groups in each of our offices. So while I say it’s important to not go and ask, if you happen to be focused on gender diversity at the time, it is important to not go and ask these people to do your job for you.

Rich: But it is important to validate it. Say once you’ve gone, “Hey, I have my strategy, here’s actually what I’m doing and why. Part of the reason I’m doing it is to try and ensure that you all feel great in this organization and that you all feel that I know what I’m doing and that this is a safe, equal opportunities, long-term place to be. It’s okay to then go talk to people and actually get feedback on that. And we actually now meet up once a quarter and we kind of have a peer support group where I’m lucky enough to get to participate with the women in engineering of where I will always go and say we kind of do a lean coffee event where I would say, “What would everybody like to talk about this week?”

Rich: And it’s kind of a safe space, we can talk about anything. I would always offer to talk about what’s going on in the engineering leadership team or in the product leadership team. Make sure folks have an insight into the various things that are going on in the background, but as often as not, we’d have something topical going on. I think we had, one of the most interesting conversations we had was around performance reviews. And I was able to say, “Hey, you know what’s an interesting thing? I almost never see women in engineering self-rating themselves as exceptional. Whereas I see men all of the time rating themselves as exceptional. That’s interesting, isn’t it? It’s kind of statistically odd. Why do you not do that?” And they’re going, “Well, I could possibly rate myself as exceptional.” I’m like, “But why not? What does exceptional mean to you? How does the wording, is it the wording that you don’t get? Is it a self-confidence thing? Is it not understanding the calibration process?”

Rich: And we talk through it and again, I’m not going to get emotional. I really struggle not to get emotional, because it’s one of the things I’m most proud of. Honestly, a couple of weeks later after we actually did the performance review process, there was several women who had actually marked themselves as exceptional in their performance review process.

Marcus: Nice.

Rich: I honestly, it’s one of the most fulfilling things that I’ve had. And I’ve seen it happen and sustain since. It’s like hey, people are now giving themselves the benefit of the doubt. And so how do you know you’re actually making progress? That is a very personal thing for me. Very rewarding thing for me. But on a more systematic level, we have company wide engagement surveys we do every six months. And we have, we actually measure a bunch of different characteristics of people such as, so everything is anonymous, but you can see what age is somebody, what team are they part of, what is their gender?

Rich: I think we maybe have one other trade like that that helps us understand the various characteristics of the organization. So we can measure engagement by team, engagement by gender, engagement by age, and we ask some specific questions about diversity and inclusivity as well. And so we can see how people of all levels or at different offices kind of feel about how we’re doing on that. We can track what percentage of people have gone through our unconscious bias and inclusive leadership training. We can track the type of formal house dramas or brand.

Rich: What are the different types of breakdowns of folks applying for our roles. We can track attrition per … Like again based on different backgrounds. But the success criteria for me, the timeline over how long we think about success is years, like absolutely years. That we know that 30% of the people graduating in Ireland with a CS background are women. So 30% is-

Marcus: Wow.

Rich: … bigger than you would imagine. But certainly we know that 30% of our engineering organization here is women. But we believe that if we could build a strong enough brand and if we can optimize towards hiring more junior people and hiring people directly out of college. If we can build that strong brand, and so if we can take even a 30% share of graduates. And we believe and lean into inclusivity and we actually try and differentiate ourselves by making ourselves the most inclusive organization, we can actually take an outsized share of that diversity. We can actually retain it for longer.

Rich: So for me, I think your hiring strategy, your growth and progression strategy, your diversity strategy, your inclusivity strategy, your engagement strategy, your frontline manager strategy. All of these things play in together and it leads to, it’s why it’s such a long-term game. It’s like I think it’s going to take me a couple of years to get all of this stuff pointed in exactly the right direction and it’s going to take me another five years to continue to lean into it and execute it. That’s why it’s it is kind of a life’s work, if you know what I mean.

Marcus: Yeah. And of course we know that when engineers give estimates, it’s going to actually be decades worth of work, right?

Rich: Yeah, totally.

Marcus: I want to go back to this one little point you made about how you noticed, you noticed that the women in your organization did not self-rate themselves at the top of the scale, excellent or something.

Rich: Yeah.

Marcus: And then you’ve sort of contrasted, what an interesting and important note that then you invited them. Invited them I guess I would frame it as you got them thinking, “Why is that? Why aren’t you, because clearly you are excellent.” But the other piece you mentioned there was these CS grads. And they’re coming in, they’re just coming into the workplace. It would not surprise me if many times our programs are both hard for the organization to put in place top-down, but they can be challenging bottom up because people have learned a posture and a way of thinking about themselves, their value, their work. Such that they have that bias of, “Well, I never give myself a 10,” kind of thing. And wouldn’t it be wonderful to imagine that the new set of graduates coming into the workforce wouldn’t have learned those at their first job?

Rich: I would love, like honestly, I would love it if one of the college courses that everybody went through or something that was taught in the earliest primary school was understanding unconscious bias and how to get over. And how to think about correspondence bias or the likeability bias or even the one which always sticks out for me from Lean In which I know that I’m guilty of, that I have been guilty of in the past is that success and likability is positively correlated with men and is negatively correlated with women. And that is just the most crushing fact out there. And for anybody who hasn’t read the book, the Lean In, the study which was done to prove this was where they had a … They took a CV resume of an executive and they put the name on the resume of John Smith and they gave it to statistically significant cohort of people and said, “Read this resume, tell me actually what you think about this person.”

Rich: And the average answer was, “This person seems like a strong leader. They seem like a go-getter. They seem like that they’re able to get stuff done. I would work for this person.” Then they took the exact same CV and changed the name to Jane Smith or whatever it is. Changed the name to a woman’s name. They gave it to a similarly statistical cohort of people and said, “Tell me what you think about this person.” And the answer was, “She seemed a little bit bossy, a little bit aggressive, seems like she’s a little bit of a ball buster. I don’t think I’d like to work for her.”

Marcus: Wow.

Rich: And that is, you think you were a good human. You are just a human. You are subject to unconscious bias, the same as everybody else and unless you educate yourself, unless your deliberate, unless you can go from thinking fast to thinking slow and you know the situations where you’re likely to be in that thinking fast unconscious bias way. Because unconscious biases are good. They are what allows us to do things, like generally do things quickly. We had to develop them, because back in caveman days, if we saw something rustling behind the bushes, we had to assume it was a lion about to jump out and eat us, we had to run away.

Marcus: Right, fear.

Rich: Yeah, it was that fight or flight. And so-

Marcus: I love the way you say that. It’s these things have saved our lives. They have kept us around like a lot of our other internal survival rules and there is kind of a movement that says, “We’ve got to get rid of that.” And just think logically, which I think is a fallacy. But I love that you say, “You have to be aware of your biases and that seems to be the key.”

Rich: Yeah. Self-awareness, situational awareness, industry awareness. That is your kind of levels of awareness that you can build up to but you always must start with self-awareness.

Marcus: It starts with me. Rich, this has been just fantastic. Thank you so much for being on the show. Where can people find you and engage with your work online?

Rich: So I have a Medium blog which is and it’s Rich_Archbold is my handle. I’ve done some blog posts on the Intercom blog. Haven’t yet done anything on this kind of D&I topic. I’m hoping to start on it in the early new year. As I said, I really only feel that in the last kind of six months has been that I felt like I’ve started to have the credibility to potentially start to share some of this stuff. Because it’s just been such a wild voyage of discovery and deep, deep learning for me on this space over the last while.

Marcus: Thank you so much for being on the show. Folks, you heard it here first from Rich and so I hope this is not the last we hear on this topic from you. Thank you so much for being on the show.

Rich: Thanks very much Marcus. Great to be here.

Speaker 1: Thank you for listening to Programming Leadership. You can keep up with the latest on the podcast at, and on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever fine podcasts are distributed. Thanks again for listening, and we’ll see you next time.

The post Engineering Inclusivity with Rich Archbold appeared first on Marcus Blankenship.



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Marcus Blankenship

Marcus Blankenship


Hacker, Problem Solver, Calvinist, Geek. Author of Habits That Harm Your Technical Team.