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Discussing Diversity at DrupalFest 2021

Last week I had the pleasure of hosting Evolving Web's Diversity in Tech event at DrupalFest. I’m fairly new to the Drupal world, and I was excited about this opportunity to connect with the community, which is one I’ve always admired.

The idea of hosting a diversity-themed event at Evolving Web came to us on International Women's Day. It was my second week on the job and together with Suzanne Dergacheva, our co-founder, we decided to host an internal discussion on the subject of women in tech.

Soon enough, we realized that a broad spectrum of underrepresented minorities also experience inequalities - it doesn’t just affect women. That's when we knew we had to take the conversation to our fellow Drupalists, so we put out an invitation to join an informal, friendly conversation on April 7th.

Here are some of the many thought-provoking topics that were covered during the event:

  • Creating an inclusive hiring process for more diverse teams
  • The impact of remote work on team diversity
  • How to make the Drupal community more inclusive

Building diverse Drupal teams with inclusive hiring practices

To break the barrier of entry to people from all backgrounds and improve diversity throughout the hiring practice, we must start from within. We discussed the importance of avoiding job descriptions that focus on cookie-cutter traits for the “perfect candidate” in order to move towards a more inclusive workforce.

We were lucky enough to have Tearyne Almendariz, lead of the Drupal Diversity and Inclusion (DDI) initiative, participate in the conversation.

Tearyne shared some of the DDI's insights on how to build inclusive teams. "The things that we encourage people to do," she says, "is to think about the way that they're going to build their teams and how that would influence either the products or services or anything else that they're offering."

She mentioned that leaders should look beyond the traditional career path when recruiting candidates and proposed to alter the recruitment process to include candidates that have a less traditional academic or professional background.

"Do you really need somebody with a bachelor's degree, or do you need somebody with extensive experience in a particular area"? As long as the future candidate brings value to the company, the cookie-cutter learning path doesn’t really matter that much.

Another thing to consider in the recruitment process is the job description. Keeping the job requirements broad and removing roadblocks to application is also a way to be more inclusive.

Although sometimes they are subtle, the must-have requirements in job descriptions can unintentionally (or not) discriminate. Watch out for these subtleties! (DDI offers many free resources on this topic).

Remote working and inclusion

One thing I hope employers have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is that remote working has had a positive impact on many marginalized and minority groups. One attendee mentioned that "allowing the workforce to work from home helps people with different family compositions" structure their daily lives.

Although it was a tough adjustment at first, people have accepted the situation. One participant also mentioned that "it opened the eyes to a lot of people that we can work from home and be productive".

Suzanne Dergacheva, co-founder at Evolving Web, shared the impact of remote working at #EW: "when we all started working from home, I think we really did a much better job of actually integrating everyone [from around the world] into the culture of the company.  We got to know those people better, because we were doing everything online".

At Evolving Web, we’ve made an effort to increase social interactions with our international colleagues. I work seamlessly with my colleagues and include them in social activities.

"Remote working has had a positive impact on our company culture. Something that I really love about Evolving Web is that we built great teams with people from so many countries and backgrounds. They're all over the world and I still can collaborate with them."

- Suzanne Dergacheva

Drupal community channels

Many newcomers (like myself) don’t know how or where to start their Drupal journey. Some of them are active in channels that aren’t traditionally associated with Drupal. Linkedin is a good example. The world's most powerful social network for professionals hosts a whopping +500 million users.

Are we visible enough on Linkedin for Drupal members (or future drupalists) to connect with communities? That’s just one example of many social platforms we can explore as a community. As one participant noted, "maybe we need to do a better job of pointing people to the right channels''.

The Drupal Slack channel is a great entry point to the community. It's a safe space where Drupal users can interact with others. But as mentioned by many attendees, there are lots of simultaneous conversations going on there! A suggested solution may be to breakout into smaller channels. That way, people can talk without being mixed with so many other comments and "feel like you're not being heard".

But there is hope! Many initiatives to make newcomers feel welcomed in the community and setting them for Drupal success are available online. Here are some examples I personally love: