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Inclusion is not a zero sum game

Originally published at on ・2 min read

Look around your office. How many people look like you? How does that compare to the people you saw on your commute, or in the supermarket? How does that compare to your users? Do you even know?

Are you making space?

How many people are struggling with mental illness? How many have accessibility challenges? How many are white, straight, cis-gender, able bodied men?

Is there a mismatch? And if so, what are you doing to change it? Are your job adverts inclusive and on inclusive sites? (hint: look at the StackOverflow developer survey before posting your job there) Do you have a network outside work that you can tap into to find new candidates?

Are you creating a safe space for everyone? Are company events open to new parents, to non-drinkers, to vegans, to women? Do people have to out themselves to attend a family day, or to avoid travel to a certain customer site? Do you support staff who need to transition? Staff who need quiet spaces? Staff who are fasting, or need non-Christian holidays?

Can your staff find somewhere to learn to sign? Or to write simplified for language learners, for those who have struggled to attain or retain language?

Which three of these questions are the most important to achieve for you this year? And how will you do it?

If you need somewhere to start, have a look at Inclusive 101 from the Microsoft Inclusive Design Toolkit, and ask yourself if that’s you, or pick an episode from the Cause a Scene podcast and listen, especially if it makes you uncomfortable.

Discussion (3)

v6 profile image
🦄N B🛡

How do you define a "zero sum game?"

Most discussions of disparities, and tying those disparities to discrimination, seem to operate on the assumption that various groups are vying for a limited amount of position and privilege, and that one group giving up their privilege will necessarily benefit another group. Does this disagree with the "your loss is my gain" mentality of a "zero sum game" as used in Game Theory research?

craignicol profile image
craignicol Author

The point is that there is an overall gain to the group from embracing inclusion and diversity. There may be a loss to individuals who fight that, but diverse teams are consistently shown to perform better than homogenous teams.

craignicol profile image
craignicol Author

The point isn't to slice up the privilege pie in a different way, it's to recognise that by removing the advantages of privilege, everyone benefits because there's a bigger pie.