Field Notes: Tech Inclusion 2015

By Jen Mylo

Automatticians, the people who build WordPress.com, participate in events and projects around the world every day. Periodically, they report back on the exciting things they do when not in front of a computer.

Earlier this month, Happiness Engineers Kathryn Presner and David Cole, Theme Wrangler Michelle Langston, and Community Organizer Jen Mylo attended the inaugural Tech Inclusion conference in San Francisco, CA. The event, which took place September 11-12, was created to explore solutions to the lack of diversity and inclusion in the tech industry, and drew more than 500 attendees as well as hosting a career fair attended by hundreds more. 

Diversity in the tech industry has been headline news lately. It’s no secret that white men make up the majority of employees in Silicon Valley/the United States’ tech sector, despite the fact that white men only make up about 30% of the US population. Tech companies like Apple, Twitter, and Slack have been responding with their diversity statistics and creating programs intended to address this disparity and create more diverse workforces. At Automattic, we’re a distributed company. 40% of our employees live outside the United States (and of our American employees, very few live in Silicon Valley/the Bay Area), but we struggle with the same challenges as other tech companies around increasing the diversity of our applicant pool and being inclusive.

We went to Tech Inclusion not only to support the conference as a sponsor, but to learn what we can do better. Tech Inclusion brought together people from all walks of tech — developers, HR people, educators, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, etc. — to talk about what’s working (or not), to make connections with each other, and to brainstorm new solutions, and we took full advantage of the experience and talent being shared.


six people seated on stage with a standing sign language interpreter
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Source:
Claire Huschle GMU  

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