“Even [our] phrasing and linguistics have been molded by the lack of diversity in technology.“
What do you do?
I work for an autonomous vehicle company, in effort in assisting our teams in mitigating risk by identifying security flaws in our product and services, for which I then help to remediate.
What keeps you passionate in the tech industry?
I really enjoy technology in general, even in my spare time. I have a true fascination with digging into services and protocols that I don’t know much about. Once you start reading white papers, finding others’ research, or making the parallel connections to previous understandings, the ability to solve a problem (or at least improve from your previous understandings) is extremely gratifying.
What do you like about the company you currently run/work for?
I truly believe autonomous vehicles will make the world better in a number of facets. Whether it be to enable greater mobility for folks who don’t have it currently, lowering the overall need for vacant parking spots/garages, or lowering costs for transportation.
The fact that I get to make a marked security difference, on a product and service that I believe in, is very enjoyable.
What are some initiatives that your company is taking to create a more inclusive workplace?
My company weaves inclusivity throughout hiring, internal promotion and groups, unconscious bias training and focuses, and more.
That said, within the tech industry, we can all continue to do better, and my company aligns with the values that we will only continue to move the needle via actively pursuing inclusivity and diverse perspectives.
What does being an ally to underrepresented folks in tech mean to you?
My primary goal in being an ally is to build folks up while improving across the board via new perspectives and understanding. I understand that being a white male in technology means that I am in the vast, vast majority, and thus actively encouraging, seeking, and amplifying underrepresented voices is crucial.
Learning these new viewpoints from each other is extremely important, as folks with different origins, sexual orientations, backgrounds, and other marginalized positions all have extremely valid and important vantages that will help us solve challenges.
A lot of people are afraid to publicly learn, but it’s important to be transparent about moments of unlearning. This shows others it’s okay to admit your wrongs in order to grow. Can you share one or more “a-ha!” moments you’ve had where you realized “this is wrong” or “this way of thinking is biased”?
I have worked in a lot of large, male dominated organizations and have noticed that some phrases/metaphors seem to have unintentionally entered my vernacular, without understanding their origins.
One time in a meeting I used the phrase “open kimono”, as I had previously heard it described as a colloquial (and unique?) way of expressing the desire to be open and share information.
It wasn’t until I digested the fact that this phrase has sexist, racist, and conveyed just plain weird undertones that I realized this should *never* be used in any setting. It was embarrassing and certainly not aligned with my intentions or core values; however, it helped me realize that even my phrasing and linguistics have been molded by the lack of diversity in technology.
What results have you seen from your tech equity and advocacy actions?
I’ve certainly seen my personal network and perspectives grow, as my efforts to increase and spread awareness have grown. That said, I (and the industry in whole) am still very far from my goals.
What is some advice you’d give to other men in tech, older or younger, who are seeking ways to be more inclusive with their actions?
We have to be proactive. It is unmeasurably more difficult for URMs to seek (and achieve) inclusiveness than it is for successful or privileged actors to share knowledge and perspectives. We need to be deliberate and purposeful.
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