Show of hands - Who here knows who this is? I'm going to count to three and you'll all say her name out loud.
Shonda Rhimes is a titan
SR is a self-described Titan of network television.
She is the creator, head writer & exec producer of
Creator, head writer and executive producer. 300th episode.
Creator, head writer and executive producer
She is the Creator and executive producer of
Creator and executive producer
Creator and executive producer
She owns a production company called Shondaland.
In 2014 ABC dedicated Thursday nights entirely to Shondaland programming. They named it TGIT. Thursdays most important night of TV. Advertisers make their biggest ad buys on Thursday nights for the stuff they want to sell us over the weekend. Networks air their highest rated shows on that night.
2015. Her book is called Year of Yes, which is about her experiment of saying ‘yes’ to everything for a year.
September Shonda partnered with Hearst Media, who owns online magazines like Cosmopolitan and ELLE, to launch shondaland.com a digital lifestyle magazine.
In 2018 Shonda has some new shows coming out. Legal drama For the People.
Firefighter Spinoff. Maranida Bailey's husband Ben leaving Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital.
Last August Shonda signed a huge deal with Netfix. This will give her more creative freedom with the shows she wants to make. And she still gets to keep her TGIT shows on ABC.
Net Worth of over 120 million
Golden Globe winner for Best TV Drama
One of TIME magazine's 100 People Who Help Shape the World
First woman to create three hit shows with more than 100 episodes each
Founded the Rhimes Family Foundation
Her reign of an entire night of network TV is "unmatched in TV history"
Here are some quick facts about Shonda. The AP said.
What has helped Shonda be so successful?
In addition to writing addictive show, Shonda's programs are incredibly diverse and appeal to the widest audience possible. Almost everyone will see a person from their demographic reflected as a character in her shows.
I really hate the word 'diversity.'
Ironically SR doesn't like the word Diversity.
I have a different word:
normalizing. I am making TV look like the world looks. Women, people of color, LGBTQ people equal way more than 50 percent of the population. Which means it ain't out of the ordinary.
If you've been paying attention to the demographic numbers released by tech companies, you would know there is a huge lack of diversity in the tech industry.
This may look familiar
Maybe you've seen pages on company websites that look like this.
Why should we care?
Why is this an issue we should be concerned about?
We make products for everyone
We make products that are used people all over the world.
When there is a disparity between builders and users, problems arise.
The US Population
What is normal? I will show you. These 20 smilies represent the adult population of the US.
First up breakdown by gender.
Race and Ethnicity
2010 Census 63.7% White. Since then the US has gotten more diverse.
In 2012 it became an even 50/50 split between white/non-white kids under 5.
Predict by 2043 white folks will make up less than 50% of the population in this country.
0.9% Native American/Alaskan/Hawaiian & PI
About % Indigenous people are PI
Let's look at the age breakdown of the adult population.
A conservative estimate
This is what normal looks like
Or, translated into Shondaland.
Shonda has a character from every demographic, except native American, so I added Scott.
Shondaland edition + Scott
This is just US adults, our products are used Worldwide. Our users get more diverse every day.
Diversity is good for business
In addition to the benefit of diverse teams better understanding end users. Research proves diversity makes companies more productive and profitable overall.
When selecting a problem-solving team...a team of randomly selected agents outperforms a team comprised of the best-performing agents.
Lu Hong and Scott E. Page
"Groups of diverse problem solvers can outperform groups of high-ability problem solvers."
Michigan Business School and Complex Systems, University of Michigan; and Department of Finance, Loyola University, September 2004
U of Michigan Researchers put together groups to solve problems. 1 group was randomly chosen, and the second group was made of best individual performers. They found the randomly chosen group of people with varying abilities consistently out-performed the group made of the best of the best.
Diversity of thought beats ability when it came to solving problems as a team
Diversity is crucial to encouraging different perspectives and ideas that foster innovation.
"Global Diversity and Inclusion: Fostering Innovation Through a Diverse Workforce."
Forbes | Insights, July 2011
Forbes surveyed 321 executives from global companies making $500 million and up that had diversity programs in place.
Respondents reported: Better innovation, decision making, help them attract and retain best talent
We’ve found that when at least one member of a team has traits in common with the end user, the entire team better understands that user.
Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Melinda Marshall, Laura Sherbin
"How Diversity Can Drive Innovation"
Harvard Business Review, December 2013
Harvard Business Review did a national survey of 1,800 professionals.
They found companies with diverse leadership = better understood end users and were 70% likelier to report they captured a new market that year.
Companies in the top quartile for gender or racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians.
Vivian Hunt, Dennis Layton and Sara Prince
McKinsey Quarterly, February 2015
In this study of 366 International companies
Researchers found a correlation between a diverse composition of top management & boards and higher than average profits in their industry.
It's the right thing
Not just about making better products and profits.
Homogeneity and exclusion is not good.
We want a wide variety of folks participating in tech.
How does this happen?
Why aren't tech companies more diverse?
I call it.
The most qualified candidate gets the job.
Some qualified people never make it to the first round because of unconscious bias.
I give people the benefit of the doubt that this bias is unconscious. I know there is conscious bias, too. But I believe if given the chance, most folks want to be inclusive rather than discriminatory.
I'm going to share the stories of a couple friends and their experience going through the job seeking process.
Mad Sysadmin skills
Fun to work with
Go through list first
He told us a story of a time when he was job searching in the past.
After applying to positions I felt I was qualified for and receiving no responses, I reapplied a couple weeks later as 'Carl' instead of 'Carlos'.
Almost all of them called back asking for 'Carl.'
Downside of him telling us this story = we call him Carl. Carl has a backstory.
What's in a name?
What difference does a name make.
Racial Bias in Hiring
November 2002 study by the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business
Professors from the U of Chicago sent fictitious resumes to 1,300 help-wanted ads Boston Globe & Chicago Tribune. Success of each resume = Callbacks for interviews.
The resumes were identical except for the names white / aa.
Applicants with "white-sounding" names were 50 percent more likely to get called for an interview.
What they then did was raise the overall quality of the resumes, they made the fictitious candidates more qualified for the jobs they were applying to.
The most surprising and disheartening result is seeing that applicants with African-American names were not rewarded for having better resumes.
"Racial Bias in Hiring."
University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, November 2002
White applicants' higher-quality resumes resulted in 30% more callbacks and the identical resumes for African-American applicants resulted in 9% more callbacks.
Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students
in a Yale University randomized double-blind study, 127 US STEM professors asked to evaluate resumes. Resumes were identical, except half "John" and half "Jennifer".
Faculty participants rated the male applicant as significantly more competent and hire-able than the (identical) female applicant.
Corinne A. Moss-Racusin, John F. Dovidio, Victoria L. Brescoll, Mark J. Graham, and Jo Handelsman
"Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students."
Yale University, November 2012
The scientists were less willing to mentor or to hire Jennifer. And the ones who were, on average, offered Jennifer $4,000 or 13% less per year than John.
Lead DevOps engineer at Wirecutter
2015 & 2016 White House LGBT Tech & Innovation Fellow
Public speaker and teacher
Go through list first
She told me about her experience during a particular job interview process that happened a few years ago.
The phone and in-person interviews went incredibly well. A few days later, they called saying I was qualified and felt confident I had the ability to perform whatever was required of me, but they felt that I wasn’t a good 'culture fit.'
I'm incredibly easy-going, so I was mystified by what that meant until I took a second look at the company’s website. If I joined them as a developer, I'd be the only woman there outside of administration, and the only Black person.
Why is hiring for Culture Fit an issue when it comes to diversity?
What do you want your company culture to be?
Do you want your work environment to be a place where you party with your friends who have backgrounds similar to yours?
Or an environment that ultimately benefits your team and customers.
Your clients don't give a sh*t about your Beer Pong Fridays and foosball tables.
What do we do?
What can we do about this problem?
When someone from a different background tells you their experience, it's a gift. Listen to them.
Listen to stories and the evidence and research around bias.
Now you know unconscious bias = real, researched and proven, think hard why turning down an applicant. Why are you deleting that resume? Strive for a true Meritocracy.
Or you can ask yourself...
Shonda Rhimes...pointedly avoided specifying her characters’ ethnicities, going so far as to leave off last names to help ensure the casting process would be a truly open one.
Nina Shen Rastogi
"The tricky business of writing casting notices."
Slate.com, July 2012
This: Shonda uses an open casting process and you should to.
Then read quote.
Examine your job listings
You can help do this by writing inclusive job listings.
Highly masculine wording used in job postings reduces women’s appeal of the job because it signals that women do not fit or belong in that job.
"You Don’t Know It, But Women See Gender Bias in Your Job Postings"
ERE Media, March 2013
A scientific study of 4,000 job descriptions found lack of gender-inclusive wording made it harder to recruit women in positions where women are underrepresented.
Evidence That Gendered Wording in Job Advertisements Exists and Sustains Gender Inequality
March 2011 study University of Waterloo Department of Psychology
In this study, 96 random job seekers were asked to read job descriptions containing what researchers identified as masculine/feminine-themed words. They found listings with female-friendly words appealed to women - even for male dominated jobs.
Words not to use
Erin Kissane "Job Listings That Don't Alienate"
I'm going to get to those words in a second, but let's talk about words you should never use in your job listings.
A survey taken by people from communities underrepresented in their fields, identified language in job descriptions that made them back away. Red flag words that would prevent them from applying in the first place.
"Masculine" themed words
Best of the Best
Here are some words that researchers identified as "Masculine" themed.
"Feminine" themed words
The point is not to only use feminine themed words and no masculine words, but if you want to use a word like "Ambitious", Balance it out with a word like "Creative."
Diversity ≠ Low Quality
Homogeneity = Less Quality
Diversity is not a lowering of quality, in fact it is the opposite
I really dislike this term. Implies hiring a less qualified person for the sake of diversity.
There is nothing about a person from a marginalized community that makes them inherently unqualified for a job.
A push for more diversity in an increase in quality.
Realize diversity is an asset
Truth is = Diversity brings value - It makes teams better problem solvers, more understanding of end-users & there is measurable financial gain.
This is an overall greater benefit to your organization than just an individual set of skills.
To quote my friend Marc, a fellow queer web agency owner...
Founder and president of The Tactile Group, LLC.
When we have to choose among equally qualified candidates, we choose the candidate that will best maintain our culture of diversity.
Right now, we could use the perspective of some cisgender straight white men.
Choice between 2 equally qualified candidates, person who brings more diversity to your team brings more value.
Expand your network
Here's the fun part - go out and make new friends. Go beyond your usual networks and find the diversity in tech networking groups and attend their events. We may have different life experiences, but we also have a lot in common as human beings. Make sincere, real connections with people.
Is your Twitter feed looking homogeneous? Find the diverse leaders in tech and follow them.
In Philly we have multiple diverse tech groups. Meetup.com is a great resource to find groups in your area.
Attend and sponsor their events.
Go to their job fairs. Find new places to list your job announcements.
VP of Product at Liquid Web
Pro-actively surround yourself with people who are unlike you.
Choose it. Go out of your way to embrace the difference and learn from it.
Be part of the solution
Work to help increase the pipeline of diverse folks in tech.
Support organizations working to fix the problem
Philly groups - teaching people to code. Find groups in your area and support them. Raise money, promote their events, find volunteer and sponsorship opportunities.
I am an instructor for Girl Develop It, a national organization that creates friendly environments for women to learn coding.
You can TA GDI classes regardless of gender orientation. It's a great place to find talented people to work at your organization or speak at an event.
Help all of your clients be successful
If you have diverse clients work as hard for them as you do all of your clients.
Aug 2017, an article came out about a startup called Witchsy who was having trouble with their web developers. Not getting back to them, completing tasks asked of them. Hurting getting their online shop off the ground.
They decided to create a fictitious male co-founder named Keith Mann, and Keith took over email correspondence with their web developers.
It would take me days to get a response, but Keith could not only get a response and a status update, but also be asked if he wanted anything else or if there was anything else that Keith needed help with.
John Paul Titlow
"These Women Entrepreneurs Created A Fake Male Cofounder To Dodge Startup Sexism"
Fast Company, August 29, 2017
If you have the opportunity to launch a minority or woman-owned business, do all you can to help them be successful.
Use the power of your words
Folks in the WordPress community do a lot of presenting and we have a lot of events.
115 WordCamps held in 41 different countries
Over 31,00 attendees
Numerous other non-official WordPress events
We organize conferences and speak to 10s of thousands.
There is one simple thing you can do that makes a big difference.
Avoid default pronouns
Programmer ≠ He
Ive been to countless talks where speakers refer to hypothetical, fictitious programmers, developers & hires with he, him & guys
When referring to hypothetical people, use gender neutral pronouns or switch back and forth equally
Simple to do, will improve your talk and help change this default association of people in tech equaling "he."
There are 2 professionals I admire very much who use this practice when they present.
After noticing this I asked them why they do it.
Founder and CTO of WP Engine
The words we select directly influence our subconscious world-view, and decision-making.
It's our job as orators and leaders to use that influence for good.
Director and Designer at lbdesign
Intermixing 'she', 'he' and 'they' in your talks deepens your connection with your audience.
Using a mix of these words encourages people to listen – because you're speaking to their experience, as they are.
Have a wide rage of people in your slides
When putting together presentations and adding images to slide decks, make sure the pictures depicting people in tech are not homogeneous.
In other words...
Avoid homogeneous speaker lineups and panels
Conference organizers, your events are better and more interesting with a wide range of voices.
Allies, if you're invited to be on a panel where everyone else looks like you, say something. The organizers may not realize they've put together a homogeneous panel.
It'll help avoid debacles like this that happened a month ago.
To my fellow marginalized people in tech, the best thing we can do be like Shonda start our own companies and organizations.
We can not sit and wait to be invited table, we must build the table ourselves. Our success helps level the playing field and makes the world a better place.
Let's fix this!
I believe the WordPress community is pretty welcoming and inclusive. We have a long way to go, but we're off to a good start.
We have the opportunity to be leaders in increasing diversity in tech. We hire and mentor people, organize and speak at conferences, and build the software that runs 29% of the web.
Let's work to fix this problem. Try channeling your inner Shonda
If people aren’t being included, then I’m going to find a way to make sure they’re included. I’m going to find a way to make sure they have opportunities.
Co-owner, Co-founder YIKES, Inc.
@LilJimmi • yikesinc.com
My name is Tracy Levesque and I co-own YIKES, Inc. a web design and development agency in the awesome city of Philadelphia, PA.
Thank you very much.