Monday, January 23, 2017

Diversity and EdTechTeam in 2017

With three summits featuring Google, two conferences featuring Apple, and an amazing diversity of rock star presenters, this was a high-energy weekend for the #edtechteam hashtag on twitter.

After months of discussion and consideration, EdTechTeam is prepared to publicly dedicate ourselves to improving diversity on our team, at our events, and in our field. Our approach to encouraging and supporting diversity in the past might generously be called subtle. As we enter 2017, we commit to taking a more explicit and more active approach. We know that progress will not happen quickly, and we know that the way forward will not be without discomfort and setbacks as we learn.

Within our team of 34 employees and over 250 contractors in dozens of countries around the globe, EdTechTeam members value diversity in many forms. This is particularly true when it comes to a diversity of opinions. We have self-management processes that include seeking advice or counsel as part of our decision-making, and a process for resolving conflict respectfully when differences in opinion become heated. We need a diversity of perspectives to survive and be successful as a team, which means working with people from different backgrounds and with different perspectives.

With respect to other measures of diversity, we are evenly split in terms of gender, with 17 of our 34 employees being female, and 17 male. Though we are admittedly predominantly white, our small team also includes employees who are African American, Hispanic, Asian, and Middle Eastern (to speak in broad terms). Our team also includes a diversity of nationalities, languages, religions, and sexual orientations. Naturally, our backgrounds are geographically diverse as well, though we are a predominantly American team.

However, we recognize that our employees and contractors don’t yet represent the general population in the countries where we work - and often don’t represent the demographics of educators and students that we serve. We also recognize that the participants who choose to join us at the events we produce often do not represent the ethnic diversity of surrounding regions.

As we hire new employees over time, this will be a consideration, though the changes will take years. As we select contractors to help lead our events, this will be a consideration, and the changes should be seen increasingly over the coming months. We have plans to help identify a more diverse - and no less qualified - pool of contractors… and to help develop them in positions of leadership with EdTechTeam, and elsewhere in our field. In short, we aim to offer leadership with respect to diversity in our field. We know this is a lofty goal, and fully expect to suffer some barbs for it. But we hope our efforts will help improve things for educators and students across the US and around the world.

For now, we invite any of you who are interested in this topic to join us in a Diversity in EdTech Facebook group we’ve created for this purpose. We hope to connect with some of you there… and of course we welcome your comments here as well. 

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