When white civilization in tech open their mouths around diversity, I often tend to brace myself. An ext often 보다 not, the seems favor they to speak something tone-deaf, outright attack or doing not have in an understanding of intersectionality.

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Intersectionality is the concept that people face multi-faceted class of discrimination together a result of your intersecting identities relating to race, gender, class, sexual orientation, etc . Because that women and trans civilization of color, the oppressive organizations of racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia all come into play and cannot be examined separately.

But in the technology industry, white “leaders” have actually a tendency to talk around diversity in silos. Here room three recent examples:

On a recent episode of Re/Code Decode, cock Costolo, in solution to Kara Swisher’s large question around diversity, provides zero mention of gyeongju minorities, infectious diseases world fashion people and also gender nonconforming people:

“A many of males pay lip company to diversity without really doing anything about it,” Costolo stated in one interview on Re/code Decode. “The real work-related is in arising female leaders inside these companies.”

At Dreamforce, Salesforce’s annual takeover of mountain Francisco, CEO Marc Benioff likewise failed to deal with the intricacy of diversity:

“Overall, diversity is extremely necessary to us. Appropriate now, this is the significant issue . I think as soon as we feel favor we’ve obtained this, friend know, a little bit much more under control, then ns think that one is gonna surface as the major thing we’re concentrating on. We’re no ignoring it, the something that us support, it’s something that we’re functioning on, but this is our significant focus right now, is the women’s issue.”

And climate there’s Sequoia capital investor Michael Moritz, who appears to prioritize the hiring of women above underrepresented minorities, and spews nonsense around lowering the bar in order come hire an ext diverse candidates:

“In fact, we simply hired a young mrs from Stanford who every little bit as great as she peers,” Sequoia resources investor Mike Moritz stated in one interview v Bloomberg, titled Sequoia’s Moritz: in search of Women to be Partners. “And if there are more like her, we’ll hire them. What we’re not prepared to do, is to reduced our standards.”

I’m baffled as to why human being say things like that. Is it since they’re racist? Sexist? Ignorant? part sick mix of all three? Probably.

Intersectionality is not on your radar, since they’re talking about gender and also race as if they’re no highly, highly interconnected for so numerous people. Women and trans civilization of shade have intersectional identities as cisgender or transgender women, or together trans men and as people of shade “within discourses that space shaped to respond come one or the other,” legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw created in she 1993 essay, “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, identity Politics, and Violence versus Women that Color.”

Women’s teams default to white women, black teams default to black color men; WoC room erased native diversity narratives.Adria Richards

That method society deserve to marginalize them within both gender and race. Unfortunately, intersectionality seems prefer it’s barely also on the radar of ladies who case to be diversity champions. Also though ladies of color are women, lock are regularly left out of women-specific initiatives.

As Slack engineer Erica Baker wrote freshly on Medium, tech companies seem to it is in practicing “colorless diversity,” a hatchet she newly coined. Colorless diversity is the notion that diversity initiatives focus on and only benefit white (colorless) ladies (a tiny, tiny segment of diversity).

That’s specifically what happened at the Anita Borg Institute’s grace Hopper conference. No a single black mrs was had as a title speaker, however they to be able to do room for two white men as special guest speakers. The conference did attribute Janet George, chief Data Scientist in ~ SanDisk and also Maxine Williams, chef Diversity Officer at facebook — both ladies of shade — as panelists, not headline speakers.

Intersectionality is why that problematic when Costolo claims that arising female leader is the actual work. Or when Benioff says that Salesforce is simply going to focus on women. And it’s why I obtain annoyed as soon as PR world pitch me around tackling diversity, yet then proceed to only talk around women.


The intersection the racism, sexism, transphobia and also other oppressive institutions influence perceptions and experiences of world in the tech industry. It likewise serves together a potential barrier to those who desire to go into tech but can’t due to the fact that the market isn’t constructed with intersectionality in mind. In fact, the tech industry seems to rotate a blind eye to it. 

Yet, tackling intersectionality might be the an essential to fixing this diversity situation in tech, because it’s around looking at identity and also experiences through multiple lenses.

Adria Richards very eloquently summed up the state that diversity in tech earlier this year: “Women’s groups default to white women, black groups default to black color men; WoC are erased indigenous diversity narratives.” 

White people, congratulations if you’ve made it come the finish of this post. What I now ask of you is come read and also listen to works by world of color and also gender non-conforming people. Broaden your expertise of diversity. And also recognize the it’s far more intricate than simply women matches men, and also people of color versus white people.

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Article to update to note that Janet George and Maxine Williams were on stage at the elegant Hopper conference, though not as title speakers.