Working Out Loud: Diversity and Inclusion at Commit

March 8, 2020 in Uncategorized

The Commit vision is to create a frictionless path between software engineers and world-changing opportunities. We want to create an ideal career experience for every software engineer, regardless of the group(s) they belong to. So how does a small startup of mostly over-represented men create an experience that caters to everyone in an equal and equitable way? We find the beginning and do the work.

Today is International Women’s Day. This year’s theme is “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights.” For too long, much of tech industry culture has ignored the long standing issues of gender disparity.

A month ago, I joined six other team members from Commit to attend the Women In Tech Regatta conference. This was an opportunity for both women and men to learn about topics and issues that women in tech care about. We left the conference with new knowledge, and an increased drive to create a diverse and inclusive workplace.

For the men attending, some of us felt intimidated finding ourselves one of only a few other men in some sessions. Speaking with women throughout the two days, any discomfort was replaced by a renewed drive to be a part of these important conversations, to endeavour to understand the issues, perspectives and ideas, and to accept that this mission is not about being comfortable, it’s about creating a better space for everyone.

There was a structure to the conference sessions unlike others I have attended. All conference talks were two hours in length, and each one had part of the talk dedicated to breakout groups of attendees. This created a positive sense of connection I have not experienced at other conferences.

Some of the anecdotes and questions that had the most impact on me were: Women returning to work from maternity leave bring with them a new set of superpowers; most research on successful leadership only studies men; Why do organizations look away from, and in some cases condone or contain, toxic behaviour?

The conversation about diversity and inclusion was happening at Commit before we attended this conference. It’s safe to say this conference expanded the conversation and was a forcing function for us to reflect on where we are and where we want to be.

As of today approximately 14% of Commit Engineering Partners are women. We have two women on our leadership team. We know we must bring equality to these numbers. We also know that it doesn’t start or stop at gender lines and intersects through many others.

Our immediate plans are to review our existing processes and team documentation, asking questions such as, “Is this helping us create a diverse team and culture?”, “Is this helping us create an inclusive culture?”, and “Could this be detrimental to our diversity and inclusion efforts?” We are also pushing ourselves to review and update our recruiting process to attract and retain more women and individuals from underrepresented groups. We know this is just the start, but this is where we have found the beginning.

Thank you to Shawn Price for writing this article.