DEI workshops and courses that I’m excited about

photo by Jacob Lund from Noun Project

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is a growing business. There are numerous DEI tech startups, DEI companies, DEI consultants and DEI certifications. I’ve been underwhelmed by the certifications offered by academic institutions as they are overly theoretical and don’t seem to equip learners with practical skills to do DEI work. Here are some trainings and workshops that are coming up that I’m excited about.

This Friday, October 23rd Paradigm’s Joelle Emerson, Dr. Evelyn Carter, and Courri Brady are offering a 1 hour free webinar on Creating Your 2021 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategy

Dereca Blackmon’s Inclusive Mindset for Committed Allies (free if you have LinkedIn Premium, unsure of the pricing if you don’t.) Dereca is the CEO of Inclusion Design Group and the former Assistant Vice Provost and Executive Director, Diversity and Inclusion Office at Stanford. She’s a dynamic speaker and I imagine this will be good. This 1 hour class is asynchronous, so you can do it at your own pace. 

Nicole Sanchez’s Building a More Inclusive Workplace: A 5-week series for measuring and improving DEI at your company (in partnership with O’Reilly. Nicole is the Founder and CEO of Vaya consulting and has been the VP of Social Impact at GitHub and a lecturer at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. She is a thought leader and practitioner I admire. This class starts on November 3 and runs for 5 weeks, once a week. O’Reilly offers monthly or yearly subscriptions to their learning platform, so as an individual you would need to pay $49USD for for 2 months).

Dr. Dori Tunstall is offering Hiring for Decolonization, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Creative Industries Micro-Certification ($675 CAD or ~$515 USD) through OCAD U’s Continuing Studies department. Dori has been a leader at OCAD in effectively using cluster hires to shift increase the number of Black and Indigenous faculty and to start to shift the culture of the university. This class starts on November 18th and runs for 5 weeks, once a week synchronously with 3 optional synchronous sessions for students to share their work with each other.

What other trainings would you recommend?

Glassdoor’s D&I ratings: What does 4.6 out of 5 even mean?

close up of star shaped glitter
stars by Darko Pevec, licensed under Creative Commons

Today I learned that Glassdoor recently added diversity and inclusion metrics to their company rankings. My first reaction was excitement–this could drive accountability and increase transparency on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). We know that many many people care about DEI in an employer’s brand, so this seems like useful functionality for candidates researching potential companies.

Glassdoor launched these user submitted D&I reviews with 12 companies. Salesforce scored the highest, with 4.6/5. That’s great! But what does it mean?

screenshot of Greenhouse's interface: Diversity and Inclusion at Salesforce 4.6 out of 5 (52 reviews)

When people are scoring their company on D&I, what factors are they considering in that category? I also wondered “If 9/10 white people think their company is anti-racist, what does that mean?, or if 4/5 men think a company isn’t sexist what does that mean?” In my DEI work I’ve used employee engagement data to diagnose the places where different demographic groups are having very different experiences and then ask “what’s going on here?”

In a blog post about this feature, Christian Sutherland-Wong, the Glassdoor CEO said, “Job seekers and employees today really care about equity, and for too long they’ve lacked access to the information needed to make informed decisions about the companies that are, or are not, truly inclusive.” Equity is something I care about and the D&I score on Glassdoor doesn’t help me evaluate that. By only having an overall score it reflects the sentiment and scores of the largest demographic groups. I set up a Glassdoor account and saw that I wasn’t asked for demographic information, so any type of weighting based on demographic wouldn’t be possible. (I’m sure what a methodologically sound way of weighted scores would be, but I’m sure smarter, mathier people would have informed opinions on this).

Edit: The Glassdoor post about D&I in their product says that for “U.S.-based employees and job seekers to voluntarily and anonymously share their demographic information to help others determine whether a company is actually delivering on its diversity and inclusion commitments. Glassdoor users can provide information regarding their race and ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability status, parental status, and more, all of which can be shared anonymously through their Glassdoor user profile. With these demographic contributions, Glassdoor will soon display company ratings, workplace factor ratings, salary reports, and more aggregate, broken out by specific groups at specific companies. This information will equip employers with further data and insights to create and sustain more equitable workplaces.”

Most large companies now release diversity disclosure reports (Google, Apple, Microsoft, and the one I authored at Mozilla). It would be very useful if Glassdoor used this data to share high level diversity numbers in each company profile.

screenshot of Greenhouse's interface: Google's company overview

Overall I’m glad to see Glassdoor add more information about D&I to their platform but question if user submitted scores out of 5 are terribly useful. I’d love to see Glassdoor surface diversity metrics in their company profiles. I’m curious to see how more transparency around D&I helps candidates and companies make better decisions.

Some diversity and inclusion best practices in hiring

After 3 years leading Diversity and Inclusion at Mozilla I’m looking for my next job: Director or Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at a tech company that’s hungry to make systemic change. At Mozilla one of my key partnerships was with our Talent Acquisition team to debias our hiring process and improve the candidate experience. Now I’m on the candidate side looking for jobs. Here’s some of my observations.

I saw a Diversity Equity and Inclusion Lead position that required 15-20 years experience. Honestly, that’s ridiculous, and even a stretch for a Chief Diversity Officer. I appreciated this added commentary from Aubrey Blanche:

There was a job posting with 20 bullet points. When a job post has that many requirements it demonstrates to me that the company is unclear what their priorities are for the role. Be clear about what the mandatory requirements are and what additional things might be nice to have. We know that men are far more likely to apply for a job where they have some of the qualifications and that women are far more likely to self select out, unless they have 100% of the qualifications. See: Why Women Don’t Apply for Jobs Unless They’re 100% Qualified by Tara Sophia More in Harvard Business Review.

I’ve also seen some thoughtful ads with 5-8 bullet points about the key requirements and an explicit call out to invite people with non-traditional backgrounds to apply and to tell the company how their experience could map to what they’re looking for. Here’s the language we used in some job postings at Mozilla:

You should apply even if you don’t feel that your credentials are a 100% match with the position description. We are looking for relevant skills and experience, not a checklist that exactly matches the position itself.” It calls this dynamic out and invites people from non-traditional backgrounds to envision themselves in the role.

I also like the friendly language that Collective, a DEI consultancy, uses:

Not-so-fun fact: Research shows that while men apply to jobs when they meet an average of 60% of the criteria, women and other marginalized folks tend to only apply when they check every box. Think you have what it takes, but not sure you check every box? Reach out to us anyways. We’d love to talk and determine together whether you could be a great fit!

Speaking of non-traditional backgrounds, the DEI leaders i admire come from a variety of backgrounds: business, academic/research, consulting, most do not have traditional HR backgrounds. So if you’re scoping to only look for HR professionals, you’re missing out on some great talent.

Textio is a great tool for ensuring the language in your job postings is balanced. Don’t we all want leaders who are strategic and results oriented who also have great communication skills and empathy?

I read a great job post from Sprout Social that included some milestones for the new person in this role for the 3mo, 6mo and 1 year mark. I liked this approach a lot. As a job searcher it gives me a clear idea of their priorities and helps me imagine myself in that job. Michelle Y. Bess was the Director of DEI and I know this is her good work.

I wish more job postings included salary ranges. I get that it’s complicated, especially for global companies where comp varies by geography, but if you’re looking for a Director yet the salary is $85k a year, there’s something off.

I’m excited to see more DEI jobs in academic institutions and the education requirement is nonsense. i don’t have an MBA but i’ve got 3 years in the tech industry where i used various research and data to drive measurable change. I don’t need an MBA.

Like most people on the job market, I’m also assessing if I want to work at a company when I read the job posting and look at the careers site. I’m analyzing what you say about your culture by the words and images you use. Who is represented? Who is not represented? As a DEI leader I’m also looking to see if your company is transparent about diversity metrics and where you’ve been able to make progress and where you haven’t.

As a 43 year old queer woman, I’m interested in the company culture–I want to work somewhere where i can continue to learn and grow and where they’re are great extended benefits. A ping pong table and beer on Fridays are not high on my priority list.

I appreciate it when companies outline what their application process is going to look like. It demonstrates empathy and respect and helps me as a candidate understand what the process is going to be like because each one is slightly different.

These are my observations after actively looking for a job for a couple of weeks. What other things am I missing?

This post was originally a Twitter thread.

Looking back, looking forward: end of year reflection and goal setting

Unravel Your Year 2020 workbook, pencil case and cup

My winter holiday is coming to an end. I love that I have no idea what day of the week it is, that my new uniform is yoga pants and a hoodie, and I’ve had time to catch up with people I love. After so much rest (and cheese) I’m getting antsy to get back to my regular routine. For the past 10 years I’ve done some kind of looking back on the last year and setting goals/intentions/directions for the next one. I really enjoy this type of reflection. Here’s some free tools I’ve used to help structure that reflection.

Year Compass

Krisztina Kun introduced this planning booklet to me and I love it. This is the booklet I’ve used the most. It starts with the invitation to:

Arrive.
Put on some relaxing music.
Pour yourself a hot beverage.

Let go of all your expectations.

Available in more than 40 languages, you look back at the past year in 10 areas: personal life and family, work/studies/profession, belongings (home/objects), relaxation/hobbies/creativity, friends/community, health/fitness, intellectual, emotional/spiritual, finances, and bucket list. I’m used to setting professional and athletic goals but the first time I did this I realized I’d been neglecting my creativity. For a long time setting financial goals was too scary, so I didn’t. A couple of years ago I bravely filled this section out for the first time. The first time I read the section on forgiveness and letting go I had a deep cry.

Unravel your year 2020

A couple of friends recommended this workbook to me and I’ve printed this booklet out and will try it for the first time this year. There’s a lot that looks similar to Your Compass in that you look back and then look forward with some structured prompts, some of which feel a bit whimsical to me (this is a good thing). I love that there’s a thing to colour in while pondering your word for 2020.

I love that this booklet also uses earth, air, water and fire as categories for sets of questions for the next year and includes 2 tarot exercises.

Brilliant You

Danielle Vincent put together an online workshop titled Brilliant You: Envision, design, and create your most sparkling life. I met Danielle at Mozilla and was inspired by her interesting career path and her generosity, creativity, whimsy and drive.

There’s a short quiz where you learn your goal setting style and then learn how to best set goals for your style. You then go through setting long term goals and break them down several times until you have weekly goals. My partner loved this course and found that having weekly goals enabled her to develop new habits. A lot of the course content is delivered through videos.

2020 Visioning: a New Years Practice with Alicia Garza

Zena Sharman recommended this podcast with Alicia Garza, principal at Black Futures Lab and co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter, that “offers a visioning practice to guide us through the transition from 2019 into 2020 with focused personal & political power.” This 30 min recording also includes a handout that reminds me of a zine.

adrienne maree brown, author of Emergent Strategy Shaping Change, Changing Worlds and Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good recorded a beautiful 30 min podcast episode a few years ago about casting a spell for yourself and your community.

visual representation matters

Recently I read an article on CBC about a project by Nicole Hill from Six Nations of the Grand River to create modern stock photos of Indigenous people because they couldn’t find representations of people like them to promote development projects.

There’s been a bunch of awesome photo projects where people have created their own visual representations of their communities.

Women of Color in Tech (CC-BY licensed)

Black woman with natural hair looks down at her tablet
https://flic.kr/p/Fv3zVg

“Our ask? That you use these photos to show a different representation of all women in tech. That you use these images in pieces about entrepreneurs, software engineers, infosec professionals, IT analysts, marketers, and other people who make up the tech ecosystem. Just as white women have been the default “woman” in technology and American society as a whole, we believe the underlying belief of what it means to be — and who can be —  a tech worker in the 21st century can benefit from this form of “disruption”. link

Disabled and Here (CC-BY)

Close-up of a Filipinx woman with a filtering face mask, sitting at a table with notebook and pen. She has colorful flower earrings and headphones on while looking into the distance.
https://affecttheverb.com/gallery/disabledandhere/filtermasknotebook/

“Disabled And Here is a reclaiming of our depiction, featuring disabled BIPOC with different diagnoses (or lack thereof), body sizes/types, sexual orientations, and gender identities who reside in the Pacific Northwest. This is disability representation from our own community.”

I love that these also have alt text descriptions too.

Allgo’s plus size stock photo collection

Black plus sized woman is washing a red pepper while smiling at her male partner
https://www.canweallgo.com/plus-size-stock-photos-home

“These photos are available for all uses and feature plus-size people at home. From looking at their phones in bed to having a glass of wine with friends, this collection is powerful because the emphasis is on what the models are doing, not how big they are while they’re doing it.”

The Gender Spectrum Collection

A transgender woman in business attire smiling in an office.
https://broadlygenderphotos.vice.com/#Work

“The Gender Spectrum Collection is a stock photo library featuring images of trans and non-binary models that go beyond the clichés. This collection aims to help media better represent members of these communities as people not necessarily defined by their gender identities—people with careers, relationships, talents, passions, and home lives.”

Ally is a verb, not a noun

Jeremy Dutcher‘s music is so beautiful and powerful. The way he talks about hearing his ancestors singing and laughing on archival recordings moves me in a deep way that I have a difficult time explaining with words.

His Juno acceptance speech for best Indigenous Music Album was badass: he thanked his family and team, he asked the other nominees to stand up and praised their work for creating space and defying a single genre, then he called out the Canadian Prime Minister for supporting pipelines, for sending in militarized police forces into unceeded territory and for the boil water advisory that exists in many First Nations communities. He was interrupted by the music playing him off.

Later the Arkells, who won the Rock Album of the Year, said a quick thank you and stepped back and invited Jeremy Dutcher to finish what he was saying. Before yesterday it was outside my imagination that a rock band would step back and give a two spirit Indigenous opera singer space their time and space on the stage.

I think of allyship as a verb, not as a noun, and this was a beautiful example of this. All of this is such an inspiration for me to speak truth to power, to use some of my time to hold up my colleagues’ work on the stage, and to think about where i can step back and literally create time and space for others.

blah, blah, blah: diversity and inclusion, the code4lib edition

Being asked to keynote code4lib was a literal dream come true for me. I shared some of the diversity and inclusion work we’re doing at Mozilla, called out whiteness and racism in libraries and shared some personal stuff.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve cried while giving a talk, but this was the first time the tears weren’t about trauma. I was overwhelmed with the feeling of what is possible when you are loved and supported by friends and community. I had some of my dearest library friends sitting in the front row holding space for me.

In my 20s and 30s my work was often fueled by anger and I was all about burning systems down. Now that I’m in my 40s I’m exploring what it means to be fueled by love and interdependence. I’m exploring what it means to have privilege and responsibility, and the type of work it takes to build the systems that are liberatory. It’s a new kind of vulnerability that is terrifying, yet incredibly freeing.

Here’s my original deck. I deviated a bit from the slides a bit in the actual talk.

Continue reading blah, blah, blah: diversity and inclusion, the code4lib edition

blah blah blah: diversity and inclusion

It was such an honour to be invited to speak at National Digital Forum in Wellington. This was the biggest talk I’ve ever done and it’s the first talk I’ve done on the diversity and inclusion. I surprised myself by how emotional I got at the end and it couldn’t have been a safer place to share my ideas and my feelings.

Continue reading blah blah blah: diversity and inclusion

concerns about Reveal Digital’s statement about On Our Backs

This is my third post about Reveal Digital and On Our Backs. The first post in March outlines my objections with this content being put online. The second post has some contributor agreements I found in the Cornell’s Rare Books and Manuscripts collection and the notes from my talk at code4libNYS.


About a month ago Reveal Digital decided to temporarily take down the On Our Backs (OOB) content. I was happy to hear about this. However I’ve got several concerns about their public statement (PDF). First, I’m concerned that citing Greenberg v. National Geographic Society foreshadows that they are going to disregard contributor agreements and concerns and put the whole collection online. Second, I’m concerned that minors accessing porn is listed ahead of contributor privacy issues and that reflects Reveal Digital’s priorities. Finally, I’m glad that Reveal Digital has broadened their idea of community consultation from financial stakeholders to include publishers, contributors, libraries, archives, researchers, and others, however I’m still worried about whose voices will be centered in these discussions.

Copyright

According to Reveal Digital the Greenberg v. National Geographic Society ruling says gives them “the legal right to create a faithful digital reproduction of the publication, without the need to obtain permissions from individual contributors”. ARL has a summary of this case and a 5 page brief written by Ben Grilliot, who was a legal intern for ARL at the time. I’m far from being an expert on US Copyright Law but I understand this to mean that if Reveal Digital digitizes the entire run of OOB without making any changes it doesn’t matter that contributor agreements has limitations. Even if this is legal, it is not ethical.

The ARL summary says “The Copyright Act is “media-neutral,” and libraries believe that it should allow publishers to take advantage of new technologies to preserve and distribute creative works to the public.” I spoke to 3 people who modelled for OOB and none of them consented to have their photos appear online (PDF). As librarians we can’t uncritically fight for access to information, we need to take a more nuanced approach.

Porn

I’m puzzled by “minors accessing sexually explicit content” as the first reason Reveal Digital listed.  I can understand that this might be a liability issue, but it’s not difficult to find porn on the internet, especially porn that is more explicit and hard core than the images in OOB. I’m confused by this. Reveal Digital describes OOB as filling “an important hole in the feminist digital canon and is an essential artifact of the ‘feminist sex wars'” so for me this is an unexpected reason. Their statement says that they need a window of time to make the necessary software upgrades to solve this issue. I’m disappointed that this reason is given ahead of contributor privacy.

Privacy

I was really happy to read how Reveal Digital articulates the importance of contributor privacy:

On the more complex issue of contributor privacy, Reveal Digital has come to share the concerns expressed by a few contributors and others around the digitization of OOB and the potential impact it might have on contributor privacy. While we feel that OOB carries an important voice that should be preserved and studied, we also feel that the privacy wishes of individual contributors should have an opportunity to be voiced and honored.

I feel like the above statement shows that they really heard and understood the concerns that many of the contributors and I had.

Community consultation

I’m thrilled to read that Reveal Digital intends to consult with various communities including “publishers, contributors, libraries, archives, researchers, and others”.

Often when people talk about consultations they mention a need to balance interests. We reject that libraries are neutral, so we need to extend that understanding to community consultation processes like these. Contributors, especially many models, could have their lives damaged by this. Researchers seek to gain prestige, grants, tenure and promotion from access to this collection and don’t stand to lose much, if anything. Different communities have a different stake in these decisions. Also, these groups aren’t homogeneous–it’s likely that some contributors will want this content online, some will be OK with some parts, and others will not any of it online. I hope that centering contributor voices is something that Reveal Digital will build into their consultation plan.

This isn’t the first digitization process that has needed community consultation. We can learn from the consultation process that took place around the digitization of the book Moko: or Maori tattooing or around the digitization of the second wave feminist periodical Spare Rib in the UK (thanks Michelle Moravec for telling me about this). Academic libraries can also learn from how public libraries build relationships with communities.

update on On Our Backs and Reveal Digital

In March I wrote a post outlining the ethical issues of Reveal Digital digitizing On Our Backs, a lesbian porn magazine. Last week I spoke at code4lib NYS and shared examples of where libraries have digitized materials where they really shouldn’t have. My slides are online, and here’s a PDF of the slides with notes. Also: Jenna Freedman and I co-hosted a #critlib discussion on digitization ethics.

Susie Bright’s papers in Cornell’s Rare Book and Manuscripts Collection

A couple of weeks before code4lib NYS, I learned that Cornell has Susie Bright’s papers, which include some of the administrative records for On Our Backs. When I was at Cornell I visited the Rare Book and Manuscripts Collection and looked through this amazing collection. The first book of erotica I ever bought was Herotica, edited by Susie Bright, so it was especially amazing to see her papers. It was so exciting to see photo negatives or photos of images that became iconic for lesbians either in On Our Backs, or on the covers of other books. While the wave of nostalgia was fun, the purpose of my visit was to see if the contracts with the contributors were in the administrative papers.

I hit the jackpot when found a thin folder labelled Contributors Agreements. All of them weren’t there, but there were many contracts where the content creators did not sign over all rights to the magazine. Here are three examples.

This contributor contract from 1991 is for “one-time rights only”.

agreement1

This contributor contract from 1988 is for “1st time N.A. serial rights”. In this context N.A. means North American. 

agreement2

This contributor’s contract from 1985 is “for the period of one year, beginning 1.1.86”. 

agreement3

Copyright and digitizing On Our Backs

Initially I thought that Reveal Digital had proper copyright clearances to put this content online. In addition to the above contributors contract examples, I talked to someone who modeled for On Our Backs (see slides 9 to 11 for model quotes) who said there was an agreement with the editor that the photo shoot would never appear online. These things make me wonder if the perceived current rights holder of this defunct magazine actually had the rights to grant to Reveal Digital to put this content online.

I’m still puzzled by Reveal Digital’s choice for a Creative Commons attribution (CC-BY) license. One of the former models describes how inappropriate this license is, and more worrisome as the lack of her consent in making this content available online.

People can cut up my body and make a collage. My professional and personal life can be high jacked. These are uses I never intended and still don’t want.

Response from Reveal Digital

Last week I spoke with Peggy Glahn, Program Director and part of the leadership team at Reveal Digital. She updated me on some Reveal Digital’s response to my critiques.

Takedown policy and proceedures

Peggy informed me that they had a takedown request and will be redacting some content and with their workflow it takes about 3 weeks to make those changes. She also said that they’ll be posting their takedown policy and process on their website but that there are technical challenges with their digital collections platform. It shouldn’t be difficult to link to a HTML page with the takedown policy, procedures and contact information. I’m not sure why this is a technical challenge. In the meantime, people can email Tech.Support@revealdigital.com with takedown requests. Reveal Digital will “assess each request on a case-by-case basis”.

Not removing this collection

I am really disappointed to hear that Reveal Digital does not have plans to take down this entire collection. Peggy spoke about a need to balance the rights of people accessing this collection and individual people’s right to privacy. It was nice to hear that they recognized that lesbian porn from the 80s and 90s differs from historical newspapers, both in content and in relative age. However by putting both types of collections on the web in the same way it feels like this is a shallow understanding of the differences.

Peggy mentioned that Reveal Digital had consulted the community and made the decision to leave this collection online. I asked who the community was in this case and she answered that the community was the libraries who are funding this initiative. This is an overly narrow definition of community, which is basically the fiscal stakeholders (thanks Christina Harlow for this phrase). If you work at one of these institutions, I’d love to hear what the consultation process looked like.

Community consultation is critical

As this is porn from the lesbian community in the 80s and 90s it is important that these people are consulted about their wishes and desires. Like most communities, I don’t think the lesbian and queer women’s community has ever agreed on anything, but it’s important that this consultation takes place. It’s also important to centre the voices of the queer women whose asses are literally on the page and respect their right to keep this content offline. I don’t have quick or simple solutions on how this can happen, but this is the responsibility that one takes on when you do a digitization project like this.

Learning from the best practices of digitizing traditional knowledge

The smart folks behind the Murkutu project, and Local Contexts (including the Traditional Knowledge labels) are leading the way in digitizing content in culturally appropriate and ethical ways. Reveal Digital could look at the thoughtful work that’s going on around the ethics of digitizing traditional knowledge as a blueprint for providing the right kind of access to the right people. The New Zealand Electronic Text Centre has also put a thoughtful paper outlining the consultation process and project outcomes how they to digitized the historic text Moko; or Maori tattooing.

After talking to several models who appeared in On Our Backs a common thread was that they did not consent to have their bodies online and that this posed a risk to their careers. Keeping this collection online is an act of institutional violence against the queer women who do not want this extremely personal information about themselves to so easily accessible online.

Librarians–we need to do better.