Laura Kalbag

I also pledge to be better

This post was inspired by Faruk’s great post “I Pledge To Be Better (And I Hope You Do Too)” where he speaks about the continuing problems with discrimination and lack of diversity in tech, and how more people should speak up about these issues. Faruk rightly says we all have the power and responsibility to make things better. I believe that when we don’t speak out about discrimination, we’re almost causing as much damage as condoning discrimination. Because it won’t just go away if we pretend it’s not there.

I’ve spoken about it before, and I’m all too aware of how I used to be one of those “Fuck You, I Got Mine” women. I want to make up for that. I also believe it’s important that women aren’t scared to be vocal about discrimination and diversity. In fact, it’s of the utmost importance that nobody is scared to be vocal about these issues.

As women, we need to be better allies to those who have suffered. For me, this starts with acknowledging that, whilst my own experiences have been mostly very positive, this doesn’t mean that I’m reflective of the whole industry. It’s too easy to sit in your own self-absorbed bubble. I have so much respect for the people who are standing up and speaking out for diversity, I want to show my support.

It’s not all bad, but it’s more than bad enough

It’s easy to get defensive when you’re reading posts like this, it’s easy to get annoyed at people “focusing on the bad”. I want to be clear that I love 99.99% of the people that I’ve met in the industry, and that a huge majority of people are good and mean well. But we’re not going to make anything better by refusing to see the dark side. We need to confront our problems so we know how to find the solutions.

The pledge

Faruk’s pledge (which you also can find and fork on Github) is a clear set of intentions to help make the industry a better place. I’ve forked my own version, and tweaked it so that it represents my own intentions. This has mostly been removing the part about declining speaking opportunities if it’s an exclusively white/male lineup. As I’m a woman, this puts me in a slightly different position. Still, I want commit to voicing my concerns to organisers if I feel a lineup I’m included in lacks further diversity (within reason). This is a bit wooly, and is all about intentions and contexts, so isn’t so easy to put into a pledge!

I Pledge To Be Better

I want our industry to be a safe, welcoming and inclusive place for everyone, regardless of their gender, abilities, skin colour, sexuality, age, class, neuro-diversity or any other attribute. I acknowledge that this is not currently the case, and will do my best, to the extent that I can afford to dedicate to this, to help make ours a better community and industry.

I value the diversity of perspectives that people with different backgrounds bring to the table. I will call out exclusionary practices, behaviours or cultures and see how, together, we can perhaps reshape them to be inclusive and supportive instead.

I will take some time to read up on, and educate myself about issues such as sexism in our industry. I acknowledge the onus is on me to be decently informed before speaking out, calling out, or participating in these discussions.

I will examine my own privileges, uncomfortable though it may be, and do my best to recognise them going forward.

I will call out people for behaviours that I deem offensive or unacceptable, but I will do so respectfully and with civility. I will strive to educate, not antagonise.

I acknowledge that I will make mistakes, and that I may offend someone unintentionally with my words or actions. Rather than get defensive when called out on it, I will try my hardest to listen respectfully, and learn more instead.

I will not attend events that do not have clear Code of Conduct policies, like an anti-harassment or diversity statement. I will also decline to attend events that feature, or permit to attend, any known offender of sexual assault.

I pledge to be better, and set a positive example for others in our community, industry, and society.

1: The Ada Initiative Conference anti-harassment policy


The appeal

Please blog about diversity. It doesn’t matter if you want to pledge for yourself or not, we just need to make it clear that we don’t accept discrimination in our industry. If you don’t have a blog, why not post a quick tweet? If you’re feeling unsure, read these two primers first.