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Brian Rinaldi
Brian Rinaldi

Posted on

Allies Don't Make Inclusion About Themselves

I will never play baseball. Sure, I played as a kid, briefly, and I was terrible. I have since tried batting cages and find myself somehow wholly incapable of hitting even a single ball. Baseball teams - whether they be major league, minor league or even those just playing pickup games - are not excluding me because, to reiterate, I am not a baseball player.

I bring up my failings at baseball because it helps me think about how we, as men in an industry dominated by men, can sometimes let our own egos get in the way of helping diversity. We focus on the inclusion aspect that generally goes along with diversity because inclusion must include us and we fear being left out. But inclusion doesn't always need to include us. Just as there is no rule that allows me access to playing on a baseball team despite not being a baseball player, inclusion does not mean that everyone always needs to include you or me.

And yet my ego is unbruised, because I can accept who I am and that, in other cases, there are opportunities given to me that are not given to others.

(Yes, I am aware the metaphor is imperfect but I still think it can be instructive.)

And here's the thing. Emphasizing inclusion first over diversity only enables the current power dynamics - in fact, it works to solidify them. Women, as an underrepresented group in tech, are not in a position to demand inclusion. This is why groups like Women Who Code or Vue Vixens, to name just a couple, are critical. They help create a place where women don't need to demand inclusion and risk reprisal for it. It builds female leaders in our industry that can balance out those power dynamics over the long term so that we build that diversity in our industry.

Once we build that diversity - once everyone has the same opportunity - then we should be inclusive. So, today, I ask that any of us who consider ourselves allies empower groups that empower women rather than try to force our way into their spaces by calling it inclusion.

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