Published on 7 March 2019 by

At Puppet, we emphasize learning through each other, especially when it comes to conversations and actions around inclusion and diversity. We recognize that there is no end to learning and improving how we work towards more inclusive environments, and we encourage curiosity and the desire to learn to enact change.

With the closing of Black History Month and International Women’s Day just around the corner, we wanted to share some of our resources and learnings that have inspired us this year through our diversity book club and a few Slack channels. We invite you to share what you’ve learned too.

Diversity book club

Below are a couple of the books that we’ve read for our diversity book club so far with brief descriptions of them. We highly recommend both of the books.

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

This book focuses on the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions of race are challenged and how these sorts of reactions continue to build and maintain racial inequality. One of our colleagues noted the book “completely changed my perspective on my own biases, how racism is hugely systemic, and that history does play a huge part in defining racism.”

Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change by Ellen Pao

This is Ellen Pao’s memoir about her experience as a woman in Silicon Valley and her landmark lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins Caufield Beyer for gender discrimination and retaliation. She includes a number of helpful takeaways, which go on to form the basis of her contributions to Project Include. Project Include provides resources specifically for CEOs and management of early to mid-stage tech startups looking to foster inclusion, and cites the latest research to back up its recommendations.

During the book club, we also read and discuss a variety of articles about accessibility in tech, from what spaces are physically accessible, to what websites are accessible, to what workplace practices are inclusive and build safer environments. We examined our own physical space, site, and policies, and discussed what we could improve in the future. This is a valuable exercise that we strongly recommend!

Slack channel conversations

We have a Slack channel specifically for women, non-binary people, and gender minorities here at Puppet, which we use to share recommendations, discuss our experiences, share fun stories and congratulate each other when we’ve achieved something awesome, which is almost every single day. We also have a Slack channel for discussing 'Diversity in Tech' that everyone is welcome to join. Here are a few resources that we discussed in those rooms recently:

Referring to Women by Full Names may have Negative Consequences by Shana Lebowitz

You have to be a Business Insider member to read this article and it’s a great publication to subscribe to, but if you are unable to do this, here are some interesting takeaways from the article:

  • A paper from Stav Atir and Melissa J. Ferguson at Cornell University describes eight studies, which found that we’re more likely to refer to men by their last names only and to women by their full names. What’s more, the research found, people referred to by a last name only are generally perceived as higher-status, suggesting that this linguistic phenomenon has meaningful consequences for women’s advancement.
  • One study found that American radio hosts discussing current events were more than twice as likely to use a last name only when talking about a man than a woman (even once the researchers eliminated references to “Hillary” Clinton).
  • In another study, participants read one-paragraph research proposals that referred to the researcher either by full name or by last name only; as it turned out, the researchers referred to by last name only were perceived as more famous.

This Is The Reason Your Diversity Numbers Aren’t Changing by Michelle Silverthorn

Michelle gives us an example of two young employees who start out at a job, one is a white male (Dave) and the other is a black female (Sondra). Both are equally qualified for the job but Dave grows while Sondra stays neutral. The article is straightforward and paints a perfect portrait of how race plays a big role within workplace advancement and the ability to retain a diverse set of talent.

Organizations to support

And, as a final note, we wanted to share two causes with you.

The first is iUrban Teen. This organization is focused on exposing and inspiring underrepresented youth to become tomorrow’s business and technology leaders. Deena Peirott is the founder and chief innovator of the organization. In 2013, Pierott was honored as a White House Champion of Change. Peiroot is hosting a panel at Puppet this Friday 8 March on Black Women in STEM 2.0. More information on the event here. Come join us!

This year, in support of International Women's Day, we decided to take the opportunity to raise awareness of menstrual rights, so the second organization we want to call out is PERIOD.. Based in the U.S., PERIOD. believes that menstrual care is a basic right. They provide a lot of different services from delivering period packs to those who don’t have easy access; educating individuals to how we talk about periods; and advocating and raising awareness of issues around the access to menstrual products. Want to engage and support them? Check out their website.

Tanya Webb is head of diversity, equity & inclusion at Puppet.

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