"Diversity" has been a hot topic in the tech community ever since the conversation was ignited by some not-so-stellar reports coming out of major companies in 2016. At DrupalCon Baltimore, the Drupal Association made its first dedicated effort to increase diversity, and I interviewed Chris Rooney, President and Founder of Digital Bridge Solutions, to hear his thoughts on the issue and what we as agency owners can contribute.
Are things changing?
I only have the empirical evidence of my personal experience and the thoughts of my team members, but I have definitely seen a change in the Drupal community as a result of the prioritization of diversity and inclusion. Looking around at the faces of DrupalCon Nashville attendees, I'm seeing a variety that is a marked improvement over last year in Baltimore and a far cry from my first experience at DrupalCon Chicago in 2011.
The shift is not only evident in the attendee population, but the session content as well. Many more of the sessions I've attended this year have been female-led (I'm writing this blog post in one right now), and the subject matter of many talks has centered around empathy. In the age of #MeToo and #TimesUp, highlighting and encouraging empathetic interactions is more important than ever.
One addition in particular that caught my eye this year was the availability of a Lactation Room for breast feeding or pumping parents. As a person who never thought I'd be having a child or lactating at a Drupal conference, maybe this is a feature that I simply didn't notice before (I don't think so, but please correct me if I'm wrong). Either way, now that I have a three-month-old, I have a personal appreciation for that little extra consideration.
While a diversity initiative may be anathema to some, it's important to recognize that industry or community-wide racial and gender disparity doesn't happen in a vacuum. Systematic problems require systematic solutions, and I for one am happy with the steps the Drupal community continues to take to improve.