My heart sank and I could feel some blood rush out of my face. This was a few months ago when a woman mentioned hearing ‘tech bro talk’ denigrating women from some guys in front of her at one of our events. Then someone else mentioned that some women in a social media group warned a woman to not attend our events because they’re ‘tech bro’ events.
I always considered our events the opposite of tech bro events because we’ve always championed inclusion and organizations raising up women, girls and untapped minorities. We believe that diversity makes the world a better place and lifts all boats. We’re the umbrella bringing together the silos in the PNW tech community where everyone is welcome.
If two of these situations were shared with me, how many more happen that I’m not aware of? I was surprised, disappointed, defensive and at a loss. My brain didn’t understand how this could happen because I falsely believed that stating New Tech’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion was enough.
We’ve had over 15 women in tech and diversity in tech events over the past 5 years. We start every event with a slide and statement of how we’re inclusive and create an environment for all people to have a give first attitude to help each other in our tech community. We’ve have a code of conduct policy for years. It’s not enough.
This was bound to happen in a community of 35,000+ people with hundreds of monthly attendees. But that doesn’t make it alright. My own blindness on the issue had me arrogantly believing we were leaders on this issue. We weren’t.
The times we live in seem crazy with people feeling afraid, angry, and confused. Some people are boldly doing hurtful things since we have the actions of an empowered bully dominating the news cycle every day. Others who mean well are not doing enough of the right things because we think our band aid approaches are making a difference.
To make a significant difference on this issue we’re doing more now. We’ve talked with some members of our community as well as our diversity partner Diverse City LLC to work on more solutions.
As a start, future presentations will include people sharing how they’ve overcome the challenges of being minimized in their tech careers along with how they’ve overcome the challenges of building tech and growing their companies. We’ll also ask attendees to put a challenge they face on their name tags to further impact how we help each other.
The good news is that for some reason our May audience in Seattle was the most diverse we’ve ever had. If you have additional feedback or ideas on how New Tech can walk the walk of DEI please reach out.