Those of us working on diversifying an industry understand this phenomenon: the issue you’re fighting against is first, ignorance.
What makes this ignorance even more critical to confront in the time we live in is the rapid-fire response of social media. You’re constrained by the medium to make a comment, and inevitably, context is lost. Conversations are often asynchronous, and some loon can come in the middle of it and be reactionary based off a “soundbite”. People get caught in embarrassing and damaging cyber-scandals for saying a(n) (perhaps well-meaning) ignorant or hurtful comment.
There’s been a lack of safe spaces to discuss questions and curiosities, people choose the impulse Twitter reply to make a statement. Before you make those claims – do make sure you’re informed on some of the basics. Ignorance about the issues plaguing the tech the industry for a particular underrepresented group can lead well-meaning people to make hurtful mistakes.
It’s not acceptable to be a founder, investor or manager in tech and not be aware of the issues keeping diverse candidates from making it through the interview, getting the offer, negotiating a fair wage, being a culture fit, and staying at the role.
I want to help compile a quick toolkit to reference those basic pieces detailing the issues affecting people in underrepresented groups. I encourage you to add to the list, as I’m missing MANY. These pieces are generally for lighter consumption. There’s a whole body of literature in psychology, organizational behavior, sociology, gender studies, and anthropology that I’m not even touching here.
So please, check it out, and contribute your reading suggestions: it’s the first step in helping peers better understand the experience of underrepresented folks, so they can become better, more empathetic allies.