The Importance of Diversity in the Web Industry
First off, I have to make a confession: As a white male in my 30s in the web industry, I never really cared about diversity.
In fact, it was quite the opposite. I often felt like I had to ‘fight’ to get recognized or find new opportunities. I had to fight against intentional decision making against my demographic. I am not unique, therefore I am overlooked. At times this caused me great frustration and often anger at the initiative.
My Open Apology
I am taking this opportunity to say:
I am sorry.
I am sorry for not caring about diversity. I am sorry that I wasn’t considering others in my attitude. My self-centered approach to the issue is destructive to the web. This lack of caring about diversity will harm the overall experience of the web as a whole. You see, the web isn’t about me (personally). The web is for everyone. Yes, everyone.
What has changed?
Something finally clicked when I was listening to the @developertea podcast with @rachsmithtweets. She mentioned how she often felt lonely in the industry. It was at that point that I was finally struck with the realization that the web is first and foremost about people.
…the web is first and foremost about people.
If we’re not designing and building a better web for people, then what’s the point? What’s the point of having the web if we are not focused on the people who will be using it? The web is undeniably and fundamentally about the people who use it. Period.
The problem in my attitude was that I wasn’t considering others. This includes those in race and genders who feel left-out. What’s worse is that it also includes every single user that interacts with the web. I was so focused on myself that I was blinded to the fact that diversity is going to make the web a better place for everyone. I finally get it.
Why does it matter?
So what if we support diversity or not? Why does it matter if we achieve a great diversity or not? In what context does diversity even matter?
Diversity matters for those building the web. A single perspective is no perspective at all. How can you design and build a better web for a diverse audience with a group of completely like-minded individuals? (i.e. a single, common demographic, gender, etc) The answer is: you can’t.
I believe that without having:
- …a group of individuals who work together as a team,
- where individuals are unique and different from each other,
- who are passionate about people…
…you can’t make the web a better place for anyone but yourself.
If you are in the web industry, I urge you to think about your perspective. Ask yourself a few key questions:
- What is your perspective?
- How do you achieve proper perspective on your projects?
- Are you thinking about the people on the other side of your project?
Diversity in the people on your team will make you better. Sure, there are will be challenges when people work together. However, diversity is a requirement, not an option. If you aren’t able to broaden your perspective, find a way to do it. It’s good for you. It’s good for your career. It’s good for the web.
Remember: If we’re not working for the people on the web, then we’re working for the wrong purpose.