8th Light is committed to diversity and inclusion, and the recent conversations in the tech community have been an important reminder that we need to talk about this commitment openly.
The conversations describe a barrier that must be overcome by underrepresented minorities and companies that are committed to inclusion: a mindset that certain groups of people cannot be successful in tech because of their core identities.
These barriers are not new, and they are not specific to the tech industry. We know that significant victories in equality—such as the civil rights movement, the women’s rights movement, and the legalization of gay marriage—happen through incremental change that is done by everyday people making specific, thoughtful, sustained action. While many people watch and wait for industry leaders to serve as vanguards of progress, it is important for smaller companies like ours to remain diligent about doing the hard work, over a long period of time, to achieve small victories and foster spaces and opportunities that help pave the way for this progress.
I want to make it clear that 8th Light is committed to this work toward inclusivity, and is doing its part as one of the everyday technology companies taking specific, thoughtful, sustained actions that bring us closer to a truly inclusive workplace.
However, these small victories take time, and in the meantime, real people are experiencing real pain. These attacks are not abstract for the people they harm. It is difficult to be a woman, racial minority, genderqueer person, or other underrepresented minority in tech. It is difficult when people who have never met you, much less seen the quality of your code, say “you can’t do this.”
These everyday realities can make it seem like change will never happen, and that this is how things will always be. It’s hard to focus on the small victories when the release of a document reminds you of how far the industry still has to go.
8th Light is still a long way from being the diverse, inclusive company we aim to be, but we are committed to continuing the daily work of small, specific actions that will make incremental progress—within our company, in our community, and at our client sites—to provide space and opportunities for underrepresented minorities in tech to jump in and learn. And we know that because of our commitment to these actions, breaking down this barrier is not impossible, it is inevitable.
We will continue to focus on inclusivity for underrepresented minorities in tech by hosting free events and offering scholarships to our conferences and our internal education programs. We will continue to promote and refine our apprenticeship program, which is a paid learning opportunity open to people without traditional experience but who aspire to be software professionals.
Internally, this year we created a Diversity, Culture, and Inclusion Committee, which has already achieved many small victories for our employees. They have helped us change aspects of our apprenticeship and our company culture that distract from our core mission of learning and delivering great software, and they continue to provide great recommendations, the outcomes of which we are excited to be able to share in the near future.
We don’t have all the answers, but we are committed to getting there, and will continue to focus on small, thoughtful, and sustained actions that can make our company more inclusive. Although last week has been an unfortunate reminder of the barriers that exist, we will continue to take inspiration from companies who are confronting these barriers, and hope to inspire others with our actions.