Be an ally and a nuisance

My friend, co-worker, curling nemesis, and occasional hero Andy Mallon has been a nuisance lately. I want to do what I can to be a good ally and help amplify his messaging, because Andy is being a nuisance in a way we should all be a nuisance. If you haven't read "Tech Community Equality Index," please ignore me and go give it a read.

In that post, Andy grades our favorite tech community organization, PASS, on how well they make all people feel included, welcome, and protected. I am disappointed to say that the results are not great. While they scored really well on their efforts for Women in Technology (WIT), but not well at all regarding LGBTQ, race, or gender identity. They also lack guidance or mandatory policies for PASS-sponsored events that don't happen to occur within Seattle city limits (e.g. almost every SQLSaturday).

Personally, I have felt for some time that PASS has considered WIT to be the only under-represented group in their community. This is in no way an attempt to take away from WIT, or the fantastic job PASS has done for them, but it's not broad enough on its own. Nor is this an attack on PASS, who are probably already feeling quite defensive at the moment. I am not trying to add to that; it should be taken more like constructive criticism. Think about your last performance review: you didn't get fired, but you probably got some feedback equating to "keep doing what you're doing, but here's an opportunity to improve."

As a straight white male, I know that throughout my entire life I've been the beneficiary of a landslide of privilege. Some similar people find that difficult to admit, or even scream that there is no such thing. Whatever your opinion, I encourage you to think about it from the perspective of someone who is in a group that demonstrates even a hint of marginalization. Your current perception (that everyone is treated equally) is no more valid than theirs (that they are certainly not treated equally).

So, like Andy, I encourage you to write to PASS. You don't have to be a noisy nuisance or put your opinion on public display. Just send them an e-mail. Ask them to adopt and publish their own equality index, and strive to score higher than they do today. Or just ask for one specific thing you think is missing from their diversity and inclusion efforts. The more voices they hear, the better we can help them be an organization that serves not just the community, but the whole community.

Aaron Bertrand

I am a passionate technologist with industry experience dating back to Classic ASP and SQL Server 6.5. I am a long-time Microsoft MVP, write at SQLPerformance and MSSQLTips, and have had the honor of speaking at more conferences than I can remember. In non-tech life, I am a father of two, a huge hockey and football fan, and my pronouns are he/him. If I've helped you out, consider thanking me with a coffee. :-)