Companies, diversity and diversity advice?

This is an Ask a Geek Feminist question for our commenters:

What startups do geek feminists see as role models for diversity, and why?

And, what do people think of the idea of a company having a ‘geek feminist advisory board’ instead of a technical advisory board? Its scope would be larger than a traditional technical advisory board also potentially including diversity, corporate social responsibility, culture, and strategy.

I have to say that sounds perhaps more like it should be an ethical advisory board generally, to me. Anyone have experience with that kind of advisory role?

I’ll write more about it as it begins to happen no doubt, but one of the prospective projects for the Ada Initiative is to provide that kind of advice as consultants, including to volunteer organisations and similar that generally wouldn’t be able to afford to hire consultants on the subject of gender diversity.

2 thoughts on “Companies, diversity and diversity advice?

  1. jon

    Mary, this sounds a great role for the Ada Initiative — as well as volunteer organizations, small bootstrapping startups could really benefit from this and can’t afford consulting. Building in a diversity focus from day 0 is the best way to make it work but when your entire monthly budget is $100 there aren’t a lot of options. Your expertise is ideal for startups who are (a) betting on open source and (b) understand the value of creating a diverse open-source project and (c) care about gender equity. I’ve talked with a lot of people in the Seattle area about the idea of startup-focused diversity challenges and would be more than happy to share what I’ve found … I’ll shoot you some mail.

    I don’t know any startups with ethical advisory boards but it’s a great idea — I’ll add it to the ‘best practices’ list I’m working on. Most startups only have one advisory board, so at my previous startup we had CSR, human rights, and social justice folks as well as techies, marketing, strategy, social media, diversity, etc. Maybe it’s better to think of it in terms of multiple advisory boards, with people potentially being on several.

    1. Mary Post author

      So as not to mislead people about what the Ada Initiative is doing, it is a non-profit focussed on women in open technology and culture. Consulting for a startup would depend on what role open technology and culture plays in their business, and whether we can see the benefit to women in that community.

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