The time came for me to gather my thoughts on the topic of diversity. It is a very trendy and yet complex term. When I think about diversity first things that come to my mind are a diversity of gender, race, belief, and experience. Those are important topics that we should talk about, so I was very excited when in December I was invited to BREWT peer conference. BREWT gathered testers from all around Europe in Ghent to discuss the topic of diversity. I was aware that I was invited due to being female to provide some more diversity (kind of inception).
The event started with a short introduction of rules of play. Then Shey Crompton started with his presentation „Scripted Testing needn’t be a swear word”. He was followed up by Kirill Artamonov “Breaking the wall” and Uros Stanisic “Diversity in testing, diversity in automation”. They were all great presentations and discussions but I would like to write something more about two presentations that really influenced me. And sorry – no sketchnotes this time as I was after right-hand surgery 😦
This presentation of Simon Tomes was more like a confession. He shared with us his story how he started his campaign of encouraging people and how it changed his life. From this story emerged three bullet points:
- Help at least one person,
- Listen more, speak less,
- Try to enjoy each day.
Simon during his journey realized, that his new actions bring him joy they make him in fact happier. So he created the recipe for happiness. You may achieve true happiness through:
He warned us, that opinions are ego-based. It is a better idea to share thoughts, listen and ask questions as this provides us with a more broad point of view. All this is something he calls #GoEncourage campaign.
Why even bother? Why I bring this up as the important topic? As Simon said: People may be grateful for your encouragement, and gratefulness builds strong relationships and from relationships cames trusts. And trust is the basis of every team work. You can see this in the diagram of 5 team disabilities:
From the discussion that emerged after the presentation I remember strongly two things:
- Provide guidance and provide feedback (but privately!). You are not being kind to stay silent while someone else is making mistake. Kindness is being honest in a thoughtful way.
- Words matters. Work on your language. To learn more about this topic we were provided by Simon with an article here.
Diversity in Testing
Let me get back to the conference itself. We all prepared a topic, and then our amazing organizers selected a few for presentation. We were not aware what kind of topics others submitted (at least I was not!). So we were kind of surprised when none of the presented topics touched the obvious diversity issues like gender, race or nationality.
This is where Huib Shoots stood up and spoke: “It is not ok”. Organizers reacted accordingly. So, in the beginning, Marianne Duijst was not on the agenda, but her story needed to be told. Her message was strong and without the obvious solution to the problems. She pointed out that there are small things that may make us (minority) feel alienated. Unwelcomed. It is easy to say “stand up”, “be brave”, but how in fact can we gain confidence? How do we gain the trust?
Within the discussion, we tried to come out with the solution for this issue. One of them was, again, the words we use. The other was active male allies standing up when it is needed. Somehow I saw a lot of similarity to the previous presentation of #GoEncourage movement 🙂 Is it that simple that we can solve diversity issues with more kindness, empathy, balance, and enjoyment? In my mind, it might be the way.
BREWT was an amazing experience, no doubt there. I feel bad that it took me so long to write about it. It is even harder to write a good summary since mostly I felt emotionally touched by Simon’s and Marianne’s presentations. More about BREWT You can read in the official summary.
As for diversity topic I have one strong thought in my head – diversity should be encouraged, but not forced. I can speak only as “female minority” and from my own experience, I would like conference organizers to encourage gender, race, belief and experience diversity and provide the safe space for it to happen. But I would not like anyone to be forced to accept me as a speaker just to have “more female speakers”. This creates an unfair and still hostile environment. I would like to see companies to encourage the recruitment of different people, training their HR staff to talk with everyone properly and adjust accordingly to candidates needs. But I would not like to see companies forced to hire diverse people just for the sole sake of diversity.
I think that the smartest thing I’ve ever heard was what Huib Shoots said – we should be male (and female) allies. We should care of our minorities, support them, encourage them and just be kind to each other.