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Kaye Alvarado for AWS Community Builders

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AWS Communities, a Welcoming Community!

What's Up?

Last July, I received an invite to attend the first ever APAC & Japan AWS Community Summit. It was a 2-day event held last September 15-16 in Bangkok, Thailand. It was really nice for AWS to spend this time, effort, and budget to organize these events as a way to recognize User Group leaders, Community Builders, and Heroes, and essentially make the community flourish. Special thanks goes out to Serena Seah (Developer Marketing Lead at AWS), Shafraz Rahim (Developer Community Program Manager for APJ at AWS), Donnie Prakoso (Senior Developer Advocate at AWS) and the whole AWS team for organizing such an AWSome event!

The attendees representing their countries!

Building Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Communities and Tech

A panel discussion on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion was hosted by Serena Seah. I've been with multiple companies already and one thing I can say is that well-established companies and groups ensure that they make a conscious effort to support the topic on DEI. Especially in the IT industry, where there are a lot more male, it's really hard to become successful if you are a woman, more so, if you are part of a minority race, religion, age group, or even if you are part of a non-English speaking community. A lot of missed opportunities happen, because of this unconscious (or even conscious) bias.

Really proud to have our AWS user group (AWSUG BuildHers+) leader Chelle Gray to be one of the panelists to champion what she has been promoting for years now, and most recently as the leader of BuildHers+, organized during the pandemic as a safe space for women and LGBT+ members who wanted to learn about AWS.

What is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Diversity is having a seat at the table, Inclusion is having a Voice, and Belonging is having that voice be heard. Spoken like a true champion Ms. Chelle!

Opportunities for the Minority

There were stories shared about learning tech even at your 40s. Another panelist shared how she was part of a non-English speaking culture, with a conservative community, that even her attendance to the summit itself was frowned upon back at her home country just because she is a woman. Another was a director of technology in the company she worked with and she, as a woman, is a fraction that introduced diversity to the managing group. Another panelist mentioned that she was always one woman, when attending tech meetups which was attended dominantly by men, but she just kept showing up, and eventually became an icon for other women to be inspired and attend, because there is someone like them (and they will not be alone). Rafi (AWS Hero) once said that he believed that tech is a great equalizer, because it's either you're good at it, or you're not. In AWS, there is an opportunity for everyone to thrive.

Coffee Sessions
One of the activities she supported the group with was the Coffee Sessions which is a mentoring session in an interactive and chill format to prepare for taking AWS certifications. Chelle shared about an attendee who passed, and wanted to sponsor the certification cost of another attendee as a way to pay it forward. Chelle also talked about an attendee who was studying AWS for a year, but never got the courage to take the exam. After attending the session, she passed the Solutions Architect Associate exam, and even got a job in Singapore! Before flying there, she wanted to pay it forward and mentor as well.

Special thanks to all AWSUG BuildHers+ members who took part in this initiative: Jaira Encio, JC San Juan, Tere Jimenez, Mabel, Joahna Abelgas, Maine Cruz, Tonie Fernandez and of course, Rafi Quisumbing.

Best Practices in Building a DEI Culture

Give an opportunity for each person

If you are a part of a minority, with baby steps, you can also contribute in creating a diverse and welcoming culture. Merely showing up, is already a big step, to encourage others and from Serena's own words "be an ally".

Top comments (3)

zachjonesnoel profile image
Jones Zachariah Noel

Hey Kaye! It was so great meeting you. πŸ€œπŸ€›

kayea profile image
Kaye Alvarado

Hi Jones, likewise! I enjoyed watching your segment on serverless including the panel discussions. Also, GitHub Actions ftw! πŸ˜†

zachjonesnoel profile image
Jones Zachariah Noel

Thanks Kaye! Haha, GitHub actions love is real. πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹