Unintended Consequences: How to Reduce Exclusionary Practices

Podcast Description

Kim is taking some much needed time off, so enjoy this presentation from the 2018 JSConf EU conference.

Additional Resources



Hello, everyone. [Shouts] Hello, everyone! [Audience cheers]. Alright! If you don’t follow me on Twitter, you should know, ask somebody, it’s not going to be a quiet room. Welcome to “Unintended Consequences: How to Reduce Exclusionary Practices in Organizations and Communities”. I am Kim Crayton. Yes!

You can use the hashtag #causeascene, you can find me @KimCrayton1. I have a website hashtagcauseascene.com as well as kimcrayton.com. After this slide, I usually would put my credentials in there but you know what, I’m causing such a scene I don’t care if you don’t trust what I have to say. I know what I’m talking about. So there it is. Also, there it is.

So let’s define some terms. I am an educator by trade. I only entered tech four years ago, and I like to start everybody on the same page so that when I get into my talk, people aren’t saying, “Yeah, I don’t know what that means.” So we just start off everybody the same place.


Privilege is about access. When I talk about privilege, I don’t just talk about race and gender and all these things. I talk about access. That means that there’s a group of people who have more access to resources, connections than other groups. That’s what privilege is, it’s that simple. It’s about access. And so I use this picture because people have seen these lil’ monkeys in Japan, they think, “Oh, that’s so cute.” But right there is an example of access, because there’s a family of female, family group, that is, they’re the only ones who get in the water. The other monkeys on the outside, they gotta fend for themselves. If they freeze to death, they freeze to death. So it’s only, a family of monkeys that can get in. So this family has access to this pool of this hot water where others don’t.

Underrepresented is about numbers. So that’s all that is. In tech, white women are underrepresented.

Marginalized is about treatment. In tech, many white women are not marginalized, so I like to make that distinction because when people say they want diversity, adding a white woman to your team or to your panel is not diversity.


Diversity is about variety. I know I’m from the ‘States, and we have Crayola crayons. When you get that big box—I was an only child so I got a 64 box of crayons, I had a lot of variety—that’s what diversity is about.

To me, inclusion is the holy grail. It is about experience. It is about everyone having the experience they expect when they come in contact with your business, your community or your event. Inclusion is not about equity, because if you, white man, and I, Black woman from the south of the United States, start the race at the same time, you’re still gonna be ahead of me. I need you to stop, sit down for a second, and let me catch up—and past you. Inclusion is not about quotas. That’s underrepresentation. Inclusion is about people’s experiences with your companies, your communities, and your events.

All right, so we gonna talk about some businesses here, and these are some of the things that I find that get individuals in trouble or get them in places they don’t want to be with these unintended consequences is because many people think they have a business when in fact they have a product or a service. A product or a service is not a business. A business requires processes, policies, and procedures that allow you to grow, to scale, to recover. But just for the fact that you have created a product or service, you do not necessarily have a business. That’s why a VC can come in and take over your company, because they bring in those skills to help you grow and everything else. And I blame the lean canvas model for this because that is about iterating a product or service and not about a business.


Also, you cannot manage what you do not measure. You can’t. You can guess, but you never know where you are exactly if you cannot—you cannot manage it if you cannot measure it. So I’m not a person who reads off of things. Honestly, these things are up here, so I don’t remember where I am ’cause I ad lib a lot.

So, all too often organizations fail—and when I say organizations, I mean, businesses and communities; I’m gonna make that one thing so when I’m talking about organizations, that’s what I’m talking about—or become toxic because the leaders don’t understand that growth requires processes that enable connectedness, innovation, and competitive advantage. What happens is you have a group of―OK we gonna just talk about white men because that’s what we’re full of—have a group of white man who go to university. They come up with this project and they, “Oh, this is great. Let’s do this to make money.” And they step over here with the same mentality they had when they were in their frats. They have not thought about business being different. So they behave the same way. They stay up the same amount of hours they used to—that’s why you have these ping-pong tables that women and people of marginalized groups, we could care less about all that. I’m going home. I don’t even know how to play ping-pong. I can’t even keep it on the table. I’m not interested in drinking beer with you on the job. I want to do my job and I want to go home.


Successful organizations are built on foundations that enable their leaders to turn information into knowledge in order to scale, evolve, and recover. That’s what a business is. If you can’t scale it, if you can’t recover, or if you can’t evolve, what you created for yourself is a job. It is not a business. So you see people who work in restaurants and they can’t ever leave, they have to be there all day. That’s a job. They’ve created a job for themselves. You want to be able to work on your business and not work in your business.

And so, as we all know, being technologists, Google has everything. But just because you can find information on Google does not mean it’s knowledge for you. You have to do something to internalize that information before it becomes knowledge, so it’s a lived experience, and that’s one point that they’re missing.

The ability for organizational leads to successfully create and manage operations relies heavily on how well they are at developing the necessary processes. So, here we talked about you have to have the information that turns into knowledge that would allow you to scale, evolve, and to recover, and then you need to be able to have the acumen, the ability to put those processes in place to allow you to scale, evolve, recover.


And I’m gonna be honest with you. Many of you don’t have these. Many of you are developers. Many of you don’t care to learn anything else. But as I say in many of my talks, if you don’t have these human-centric skills, you will be out of a job soon and you will be one of the other. I, on the otha hand, who has a different set of technical skills—you have technology skills; I have a different set of technical skills. I hate when people call my skills “soft”, ’cause they’re not soft, ’cause many of you don’t have them. I, because I am a person who can deal with human beings, I’ll always have a job. You need to start thinkin’ about that.

When leaders take the time to understand and operationalize—this is the key word—operationalize their organization’s functions, they avoid common barriers to success while being able to recover more quickly from unexpected events. Unexpected events are gonna happen; as the first speaker talked about errors. We know that’s just not in our code. When you’re building a business, you’re testing stuff. You’re trying stuff out. You think you have it, and then you wake up and there’s… your site’s down or your account, it ran off with your money, whatever it is. There will be unexpected events. Having these things in place allow you to prepare, at least for some of that. Many businesses have no plans in place. They’re just going on and whatever happens, happens. And then they’re just like, “I don’t know.” I don’t know why Cambridge Analytica has our data. I don’t know why we didn’t go back after four years of somebody saying, “Hey, did somebody check and see if they destroyed that?” I don’t know… all these things because there are processes in place.


Building a successful organization with fewer unintended consequences requires more than a great product or service—again, a product or service is not a business—it requires leaders being able to give all stakeholders, all stakeholders, the experiences they want and the ability to manage the process. This is where inclusion comes in, it’s about experiences—and I’m going to tell you what stakeholders I’m talkin’ about in just a moment.

But I also give my—I’d like to talk to leaders, because I have nothing against people who are not in leadership, but you have absolutely no power, no agency, no resources, and you cannot move these things forward, and what you do is become burnt out. You become frustrated, because they’re telling you at the top that these things are important to you. But they’re not giving you any resources or backing so that you can do anything with it. So you’re bangin’ your head against the ceiling and they’re telling you, “You’re doin’ such a great job,” and then you feel guilty for not, you know, “I’m tired, but this is such…” you know, “I wanna to be more inclusive, and I don’t…” This has to come from leadership.


So when I talk about all stakeholders, I believe in building businesses for social change. We are at a time where everybody has access to information. We are at a time where a lot of people are very polarized—and I can speak from the United States; I don’t want to make any assumptions about Germany—but I know our government is not run by politicians. It is run by business owners. It is run by very wealthy business owners who can pay lobbyists to give money to politicians. And politicians, in turn, make decisions based on the money they’re received.

So when we talk about, when I say all stakeholders, in a traditional business it’s about just the shareholder, and this is what gets me, because people get all upset about jobs leaving—and I’m going to give you some business education if you don’t know this. In the United States—again, don’t know about Germany—it is illegal for a board of directors or a CEO… their first priority has to be shareholder value. So if they do something or make a decision that would not bring the shareholders as much money as possible, they could be sued by said shareholders.

So I found it quite interesting that during the previous election, all of these people were upset about where—coal jobs are gone; nobody, they ain’t bringin’ ’em back. The Carrier people, they thought those jobs weren’t going to go to Mexico. I don’t care who Trump is, or who everybody else is; the shareholders of that company owned that company, and the CEO and the board of directors have to do whatever they can to make sure that shareholders are not only not losing money, but are increasing their profits. That is what shareholder’s about.


Stakeholders are looking at other people in the company. And this is where you get the inclusiveness. Because if you only thinkin’ about shareholder value, how inclusive can you actually be? That’s why there’s no money in it, because you can’t justify—everybody’s telling me there is data about ROI (Return On Investment) when you have very inclusive teams, and I’m sure you, if you work on inclusive teams, you know that you have better ideas; you can create better; you can create something together that you couldn’t create by yourself. But if your main thing is about shareholder value, if giving something to inclusion and diversity and those shareholders don’t see an immediate return on the value, you’re not gonna get that money.

So we’re talking about stakeholder values. This is the business model I believe in. And it’s talking about considering those who work for you, those who partner with you, those who buy from you, and those who invest in you. And I have it in that order for a reason. Your employees, the people who work for you, are your most important asset. Period. They determine how any customer experience is gonna be. So you need to make sure that you have thought about how to improve the experiences of those internal stakeholders.

And then you’re gonna go outside a bubble, and those are your partners, maybe your supply chain, who’s—if you’re makin’ T shirts—the company you choose to make your T shirts. These are the things you need to think about because you might pick a company that has policies that you don’t believe in. But you’ve partnered with them because you haven’t thought about these things. Also, who buys from you? Everybody is not going to buy from you; there’re some clients you will not want, but you can’t know that or be able to articulate that well if you have not made these determinations, if you have not thought about these things.


And also those who invest in you. Everybody’s just runnin’ out here for this VC money. MailChimp was was named Inc.’s Company 100, the number one company for 2017, and they have not taken a bit of venture capital money. So when we talk about invest in you, we need to think about—especially like we were talkin’ about communities, your local JavaScript—who’s investing their time in you? Who’s sponsoring you? And those are the four stakeholders you need to think about. Going from a product or service focus to business model focus takes time. You’ve gotta stop expecting simple solutions to complex problems. This is what gets us in trouble.

It takes intention, which means I want to do something; but wanting to do it is not enough. You have to have a strategy in place to make it happen. All are necessary in order to innovate, differentiate, and compete in the information age. You do not have a business if you cannot—not in the information age—if you cannot innovate and differentiate yourself. There are two ways you can get competitive advantage: through differentiation and price. And I don’t think anybody really wants to battle anybody on price. But when you differentiate your services and products, you can really—and this really something—look at Louis Vuitton. No one really needs a Louis Vuitton bag. But I see tons of ’em. All you need is a sack from the grocery store.



…but I see tons of ’em. All you need is a sack from the grocery store. But people have different ideas of what they value. Also, building stakeholder rather than shareholder focused organizations is a proactive approach to addressing inclusion and diversity and [inaudible] in tech. We have to stop doin’ this, throwing spaghetti up on the wall and seeing what sticks. We have to have a plan; has to be strategic, ’cause when we don’t do that, underrepresented and marginalized individuals are harmed by our actions.

This is the very reason I have issues with Stack Overflow to this day, and if somebody in here has a problem with that, I don’t care. [Audience laughs] I have a serious problem that for the last three years, their survey indicates that 92% of their survey participants were white males between the ages of 18 to 34. White males between the years of 18 and 34, you are my target audience because you are the bottleneck. You are in the way. [Audience laughs] It’s nothing wrong with you, I have nothing against you. But you are in the way.

And what I don’t like about the Stack Overflow issue is the fact that businesses are looking at that as if that is a representation of the global community. It is not. It is a representation of those individuals who feel safe enough to engage and gamify Stack Overflow. [Audience claps and cheers]


I’m currently hearing that people are goin’ on interviews and people are asking, “Oh, all I need to see is your GitHub and your Stack Overflow score.” What? What does that have to do with me doin’ my day to day job? But because women, people of color, people with disabilities are not actively engaging on Stack Overflow, they don’t have the scores. Which means these decisions by business leaders are impacting us financially, and you really don’t have a right to mess up my money. [Audience claps] So stop making these stupid decisions.

So I’m gonna take you to a process from shifting from a product or service focus to a business model focus. So step one, I have my clients imagine. Imagine what the ideal stakeholder experience would look like. I really don’t have my clients even talk about their product or service until several sessions later, because that doesn’t matter. Because if you do this part right, you can pivot, you can change, you can do everything. You should not be married to a product or service; that’s also what gets us in trouble, ’cause we get we can’t change it. And even though our customers, all of our stakeholders are saying this is not working for me, Stack Overflow, you still have the—you’re holdin’ on to this. And those who follow me know that I’m just into Stack Overflow right now.

So, I have a problem because they are the—is it the hub in the wheel?—yeah, the hub of every developer community in the world. You cannot tell me that the—especially when we’re talking about AI, machine learning, and deep learning—that that that code on that website is not biased. So you have people who don’t feel safe enough to engage on that site, so they’re just copyin’ and pastin’ code. At some point, there’s gonna be a tipping point when we have a problem.


So this process is not an outlining session, so you’re not saying step one, step two; you really wanna get into the feel of how you want your customers to feel when they come in contact with your organization. It’s not about product or service at this point. What do you want them to feel when they come in contact with you? When they reach out to you and say, “I need help,”—’cause that’s why they’re comin’ to you—”I need help.” Well, how do you want them to feel through the whole process? And this takes time. Some clients I had recently, they thought it was gonna be—’cause they’re in El Salvador—they thought it was gonna take a few hours. No, it took them a week to get my assignment back to me, ’cause you really have to think deeply about this.

So it’s time for you to tap into the emotions, because again, we go back to Louis Vuitton: only reason people are buyin’ that is because there’s an emotional attachment to that. That’s what quality, high price goods are. They elicit an emotion in us. And you want to use adjectives, descriptive words. So this is an example I’m gonna give you. So you want to apply measurements to your indicators. So you want to create indicators.

So this is me. Oops. Yeah. OK. So, define. You wanna put “<company name> has a commitment to…” So Kim Crayton LLC has a commitment to facilitating honest conversations and strategic action for positive change in the technology sector. Anybody here who follows me knows that’s what I do.


So now you wanna define your core values. My company is to promote positive organizational and community change in fun and engaging ways. That’s why I do the music, that’s why have the conferences, that’s why have the shirts. This stuff is hard enough. I need people to feel safe and comfortable and welcome to have these challenging, complex conversations.

And so you wanna know what that looks like, what that experience looks like. So then you wanna define your indicators. So for me, it’s to get more clients, so that means meeting—to me, I would know that I have more clients because I’m meeting or exceeding my monthly financial goals. I’m getting attention because I have a significant growth in brand awareness. I’m getting more Twitter followers. I’m getting more Instagram followers. I’m getting people to come to my conferences. I’m getting people who are saying, “Hey, do you want to be on my podcast?”

And then I want data. I wanna track client outcomes. So when I’m working with my personal clients, I want to make sure that I provide them with a testimonial, a simple thing that all they have to do is fill in the blanks. Or at my conferences, a survey or something. I wanna get that data.


Then you wanna apply it. You wanna apply measurements; again, you cannot manage what you cannot measure. So to get clients, since X number of dollars per month by December 31st. Get attention. Be a guest on X number of podcasts or write in X number of publications by this time. And I will identify that and get data. X number of testimonials, referrals, sponsorships. These are things that I have identified so that I can measure myself against it.

And so then I ask myself, what must… we must reach this benchmark to know that we can claim success. So we can’t say, “Oh, I got halfway there,” because if you’re not measuring—so you could say, “Oh, I got halfway there, but these are the reasons why I only got halfway there, so there may be a success.” You only maybe got halfway there because you had to pivot and had a more successful opportunity. But you won’t know that if you have not sat down and written these things out. This step is where a deep—where you develop effective metrics for measuring your core values.

So, my core values, again, are to promote positive organization and community change in fun and engaging ways. And this is how you turn, ’cause people like, “How do you get these adjectives?” This is why code of conducts don’t work all the time, because “Be nice,” what does that mean? Everybody has a different idea what “Be nice” is. You need to be able to figure out words that are measurable. I also don’t like “harassment,” because if you have not defined harassment in the beginning, some people have a different idea what harassment is. We see that with the #metoo movement.


And then you wanna test. You wanna test the indicators with your stakeholders and you want to collect data from them. Data are the facts. But again, that’s not enough. You want their feedback, their feelings, and their reactions. So it’s two ways of collecting data. You want—I mean, collecting information—so you wanna get that hard data, that quantitative data. But you also want to get that qualitative data, because without both, you do not have a complete picture.

And then you want to evaluate your measurements to determine if your benchmarks were met. And this is where people mess up. You wanna know why. If you did meet, what did you do? And write that stuff down. If you did not, talk about it, and write that stuff down. Use knowledge gained from evaluation of testing to refine the process. And you’re going to iterate. I tell people, as you’re iterating your product or service, you need to be iterating your culture, your core values. You need to be testing, getting customer feedback, getting stakeholder feedback, figurin’ out, “Does this work? Is this working for you?” If not, “OK, we need to change that. How do we need to change that? OK.”

And you need to be doin’ it just like a sprint.


And then you need to standardize it. You create formal—once you have something that’s concrete… a little, I mean more concrete; it’s never gonna be concrete—you need to create formal processes based on the knowledge gained from the evaluations; you need to document explicit language—and explicit means those things you can write in your documentation. Documentation is the best way, one of the first ways that you can be more inclusive in your communities. You need to be writing documentation in particular if you have customers that use that to create, or use that to answer questions. Your documentation is not a one stop thing, it is a continuous cycle.

And you need to share tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is that you turn information into personal knowledge. And so if I am doing something, and I have a task, and I’ve done it a few times, now I have my own way of doin’ that. You need to not only capture that, but that needs to be shared throughout the organization, because in an information economy, it is that tacit knowledge that will allow you to differentiate, that would allow you to differentiate and be competitive. Not this book knowledge, not these binders. That’s not information you need that’s gonna make you competitive.


So important considerations: core values should inform all organizational decisions, and I’m gonna show you what I mean in a minute. Remember that this is an ongoing process, the decisions that are the result of this process should not be seen as immutable or rigid. Organizational leaders should plan to review whether stakeholder factors have changed at least—at a minimum—two times a year, because you need to be shifting. When leaders create organizations around well-defined and tested core values that consider the needs of all stakeholders and have processes in place to monitor progress—again, it’s all stakeholders and measurements—they are less likely to discover at some point in the future that they have been nurturing a toxic environment.

This is my first example of what I talk about my core values, were to change this community in a positive way and a fun way, right? So the first example, this fits into my core values. I have #CauseAScene merchandise. It’s just sayings that I say that people like that I talk about… I’m gonna be honest with you, I don’t ever remember what I said in my talks. So people come back and say, “Oh, you said…” and I’m like, “That’s good. I’m gonna write that down.” So I have several items on this website, because again, I have a problem with people not wanting to pay for this. I—just like you go to work every day, you expect the check—the things I do, I expect to get paid for.


The second example… [Reacting to audience] Yeah, woo! Exactly. The second example is the conference. So the conference is all about—again, I’m an educator—so I’m—and I’m special needs certified—so I’m used to working with students and havin’ to demonstrate how to do something. So I’m really sick of people talking about, “Oh, we just can’t find underrepresented and marginalized people to speak at our conferences. We just can’t find ’em.” You don’t have an excuse anymore, ’cause I’m showing you how to do it.

So again, my conference is Monday night. I’m sorry I used the English thing, so I was informed that y’all thinkin’ I’m talkin’ 7:30 in the morning. Oh, heck no! [Audience laughs] It’s 7:30 PM till 11:00 PM. It is not in the morning.

The next example of me using my core values to make decisions is my podcast that just launched on Wednesday, this past Wednesday. And it’s the raw deal Holyfield, I’m gonna tell you, we are talkin’ about everything because we need to have these conversations so we can move through them. It is not until we have these challenging conversations, and white men, I’m gonna tell you: if you’re feeling uncomfortable, you’re only filling this much discomfort. I walk around in this every single day. If I can deal, you can. [Audience applauds]


And the fourth example is the leadership training, the coaching that I’m doing. I’m doing some consulting while I’m here, and this is also showin’ you or givin’ you a demonstration of how I’ve used my core values to dictate how I get to my stakeholders and my customers. So thank you.

[Audience cheers and applauds]

Unintended Consequences: How to Reduce Exclusionary Practices

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