Diversity and Inclusion
Howdy! We are an international company with employees who come from a wide variety of backgrounds. We believe that the more perspectives we embrace, the better we are at engaging our global community of users and developers. We want to build Automattic as an environment where people love their work and show respect and empathy to those with whom we interact. Diversity typically includes, but is not limited to, differences in race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, political and religious affiliation, socioeconomic background, cultural background, geographic location, physical disabilities and abilities, relationship status, veteran status, and age. To work on diversity means that we welcome these differences, and strive to increase the visibility of traditionally underrepresented groups. We see inclusion as the ongoing, conscious effort to celebrate difference and welcome people of differing backgrounds and life experiences, whether they’re current or prospective employees, partners, or users of our software.
In 2014 we started to work, as a company, on facilitating spaces for discussions about diversity at Automattic. And at our 2016 annual gathering of all of our employees from over 50 countries, we decided to share what we are doing about diversity and inclusion with the rest of the world — because we want you to think about working with us. Since then, we’ve established a Diversity and Inclusion committee along with various Employee Resource Groups to support, deepen, and expand our efforts.
In the past we’ve supported organizations like Mother Coders, TechWomen, The Representation Project, and Outreachy. We’re especially proud of supporting Accelerate.lgbt. We’re thrilled to work and partner with other companies and institutions that share our values. And we celebrate the achievements of those who use our software to tell their stories, especially when they come from under-heard voices and marginalized communities.
Consistent with our Open Source ethos, here are seven invitations to all Automatticians. This list will evolve as we learn more from our (and others’) experience in building a more diverse and more inclusive workplace.
1. Share your perspective
Your perspective is part of what makes us stronger. If you practice sharing honestly, it will encourage others to do the same. This will help create a place where perspectives flow freely and build on one another. Beyond that, share your story outside of Automattic and inspire others to apply to join the fun here.
2. Educate yourself about diversity
As the Automattic creed states, we will never stop learning. Whether it’s subscribing to the Geek Feminism Wiki, checking out the The Huffington Post’s Workplace Diversity articles, or diving into research papers, learning about diversity can happen daily. Here are a few examples to explore:
- Listen to the NPR episode titled Defining Diversity: Beyond Race And Gender.
- Learn about the Web Accessibility Initiative and how to make our product more accessible.
- Find out more about obstacles and solutions for underrepresented minorities in technology.
- Read about how minorities have degrees, but don’t get hired.
- Check out an article on the brutal ageism of tech.
- Watch the online series Ask an Autistic.
- Visit artist Helena Price’s photo project Techies focused on sharing stories of tech employees.
- Subscribe to Accessibility Weekly.
3. Challenge your own thoughts
We each come with our own biases, experiences, and skill sets. Who we are influences how we approach questions and tasks. It’s important we acknowledge that we all took different paths to get here and that we continue to challenge our own thoughts about the work we do as much as we challenge others.
4. Ask for feedback
It is through feedback that we can improve the language we use and the actions we take. Here are a few questions you can ask to generate feedback from others:
- Have you ever felt that I wasn’t welcoming to you?
- How can I help make Automattic more welcoming and diverse?
- Have I ever done or said something to which you’ve taken offense?
Whether it’s using the phrase “partner” instead of “husband” or “wife,” or making sure to employ the correct terms when referring to a disability, acceptance starts with appropriate language.
- GLAAD Terms to avoid and to use instead.
- Tipsheet for Respectful Disability Language.
- Inclusive Language Guidelines from the Department of Education.
5. Join one of our online communities available to Automatticians
Collectively, we already make up a very diverse group. We come from and are part of different types of families. We live all over the place. We hold various religious beliefs — or none. We are all ages. We have good days and bad. We speak a ton of languages. We encourage visiting our private online spaces that include places:
- For those who identify as LGBTQ+.
- For those who are parents or are about to become one.
- For those figuring out how to handle ADHD while working at Automattic.
- For those who identify as women and wish to support and connect with each other.
- For anyone who identifies as neurodivergent, or just wants to learn more about what that means.
- For anyone who deals with mental illness and wants to discuss issues related to mental health.
Some of these spaces have turned into official Employee Resource Groups which you can learn more about here.
6. Help make our products localized and accessible
Automattic shares the Open Source ethos of building products that people of diverse backgrounds, experiences, and abilities can use and enjoy. We actively encourage Automatticians to help make our products accessible. This means:
- We create software that works smoothly for English and non-English speakers (WordPress.com is now fully translated in 16 languages).
- We ensure our products are accessible across different bandwidths and devices.
- We take into account physical and cognitive abilities and disabilities.
- We aim to position our products and services as affordable options in the marketplace.
- We strive to involve members of our audiences in our processes and actively solicit their feedback.
When you create, think of the diverse audiences your work will reach. If you stumble on something that might trip others, fix it or report it to someone who can improve it. For some guidelines on designing for inclusion, review our starter checklist.
7. Remember that great ideas can come from anywhere
Whether it is someone from a different team popping into a conversation in your team’s space or a user giving feedback, keep this idea in mind. It is up to us to stay open-minded so that powerful ideas can rise to the surface and come to fruition.
Below are just a few examples to help explain how diversity affects a unique place like Automattic:
- Holidays & Observances
There are around 4,200 religions in the world and numerous individual days of observance in each country. When the holidays you celebrate or days of observance come around, keep in mind that other Automatticians might not be aware of them! Here’s a site that goes over holidays for major religions around the world. Before planning a meetup, scheduling a feature launch, or announcing a team call, do your best to make sure it doesn’t conflict with anyone’s ability to observe their holidays or days of observance.
Did you know there are places in the world where being homosexual is considered a sin, or even a crime? When planning team meetups, it’s important to remember this — you may have teammates who could be uncomfortable (or even in danger) based on the location chosen for a meetup. If we consider multiple perspectives when choosing locations, we can ensure a safe and happy trip for the whole team.
- Language Differences
As an international company, we interact with users and fellow Automatticians whose first language is different than our own, and by improving our communication, we can improve the work we do. We avoid slang terms and idioms that may result in more confusion than clarity, and offer to explain and rephrase our words when needed. In the case of a misunderstanding, we always assume good intentions, and imagine how new possibilities can emerge.
Intellectual and international diversity is something that we strongly embody at Automattic — it’s where we’ve come from and how we’ve grown to include Automatticians from over 60 countries. Yet we recognize that we have so much more work to do in embracing the many differences that our community represents. We hope you consider joining us on our journey toward ever-increasing diversity and inclusion.