November 7, 2019 | Career, Community |

PASS Summit 2019 – WIT Luncheon

Can you believe this is the 17th annual WIT Luncheon? There are 800 people here, and Wendy Pastrick thanks SentryOne for many years of support.

Today's keynote speaker is LeShana Lewis, CEO of L. M. Lewis Consulting. Their mission:

To improve businesses' diversity and inclusion efforts around the world.

That sounds like a simple mission, but if you think about it for a second, it is both ambitious and inspirational. As the father of two girls who I of course wish the best for in their future careers, and the friend of many people in under-represented groups, I am hopeful that our society keeps edging toward more inclusion and equality and away from bias and divisiveness. So I certainly admire what LeShana aims to do here.

LeShana talks about how she came to be in her current role, and it reminded me a bit of my own early path, which wasn't fully intentional. Her first computer was a Commodore 64, and without a computer science degree and the inability to even get a tech interview, she drove a delivery van, and helped her employer with BIOS updates for Y2K. She went on to attend a CoderGirl meetup (a LaunchCode program), which led to an apprenticeship as a systems engineer and, later, to a full-on software engineer role at MasterCard.

See what President Obama said about LeShana at the National League of Cities Conference in 2015.

Now she speaks and writes about diversity, inclusion, and equality, and helps companies improve their efforts in these areas.

She talks about the racial dot map, which is a fascinating look at racial segregation in the population across the entire United States. And did you know that many cars are safety rated based on only male-proportioned crash test dummies in the driver seat? How about that consumer buying power drives advertising targeting, and that a group is not considered "important" to advertise to until they hit $1 trillion in buying power? This is all very eye-opening.

She suggests that if you want to help make a difference, you don't have to be a D&I expert. She says that your skills can shed light on diversity, and that if you don't have data to empower change, there are sources that can help. Have your colleagues take the implicit bias test at implicit.harvard.edu, for example. The results will help people realize the biases they have and will hopefully encourage them to improve.

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