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The Blameless Podcast

Resilience in Action E3:

Inclusion and Integrity with Sidney Miller
RIA Episode 3

Inclusion and Integrity with Sidney Miller

June 17, 2020

Kurt Andersen

Kurt Andersen is a practitioner and an active thought leader in the SRE community. He speaks at major DevOps & SRE conferences and publishes his work through O'Reilly in quintessential SRE books such as Seeking SRE, What is SRE?, and 97 Things Every SRE Should Know. Before joining Blameless, Kurt was a Sr. Staff SRE at LinkedIn, implementing SLOs (reliability metrics) at scale across the board for thousands of  independently deployable services. Kurt is a member of the USENIX Board of Directors and part of the steering committee for the world-wide SREcon conferences.

Resilience in Action is a podcast about all things resilience, from SRE to software engineering, to how it affects our personal lives, and more. Resilience in Action is hosted by Blameless Staff SRE Amy Tobey. Amy has been an SRE and DevOps practitioner since before those names existed. She cares deeply about her community of SREs and wants to take what she’s learned over the 20+ years of her career to help others.

In our third episode, Amy chats with Sidney Miller, Talent Acquisition Lead at Packet and Inclusion Strategist for those that can not have a voice.

See the full transcript of their conversation below, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Amy Tobey: Welcome, Sidney, to Resilience in Action. It's June 2, and for those of us paying attention in the world, it's been quite an eventful few days. Coming into this recording we thought about delaying, but decided to record anyway because so much of what's been happening is directly related to things that you and I care about very deeply.

You do a lot of work in the diversity and inclusion hiring space and I wanted you to talk about what that environment is like right now.

Sidney Miller: From a hiring space, it's tough, I'll be honest with you, because there's nothing harder than finding a new role outside the climate that we're in. They say that interviewing for a new role can be as daunting as getting married and having children.

Amy Tobey: Because you're forming a long term relationship with a group of people or an organization, ideally. Although, Silicon Valley's a little weird in that space. We're very much into short term relationships around here.

Sidney Miller: 18 months or less, isn't that the normal engagement?

Amy Tobey: Unfortunately, yes.

Sidney Miller: Sorry, San Francisco. You know we love you. But it's really interesting because of the edge that it's put on even the most humble and the most empathetic of us. When you're in an interview and trying to describe who you are and how you see code and engineering, being your best self probably isn't going to happen right now because we've been inside for God knows how long and now we are being forced to stay inside because of the unrest. So children are home, spouses are home, partners, parents, all of this stuff is weighing on you.

When you're in an interview and trying to describe who you are and how you see code and engineering, being your best self probably isn't going to happen.

Amy Tobey: And that's just for us, the privileged folks. For folks that are in less privileged categories there are additional demands on their cognitive resources.

Sidney Miller: Especially. I always try not to just jump right into a technical test. Lets not build the binary tree because what does that really show you? 

You have to think about what this testing means to that person. We could have our single parents. We could have our folks who work a full-time job then have to take care of their parents or siblings or hold down everything else, and at the end of the day they're asked to code. 

I don't know about you, but I get up at five. I need my cup of coffee. It's COVID hours, so I work until I stop.

Amy Tobey: The beginning of the day is kind of a slur and the end of the day is completely undefined.

Sidney Miller: You need to think about what you're asking of the other individual and the human on the other end. You're asking them for a large amount of their brain capacity and their time.

Amy Tobey: That may not be available.

Sidney Miller: It's not available, especially in COVID. When are you going to find the private time, the space, or the will? A technical test in these times is almost laughable.

When are you going to find the private time, the space, or the will? A technical test in these times is almost laughable.

Amy Tobey: It's a guaranteed way to hire extremely privileged folks.

Sidney Miller: Exactly. It's a barrier to entry.

Amy Tobey: For those who don't have childcare, who have spouses or parents to take care, that extra burden makes the difference between having a little bit of spare capacity after work to do a test and getting to the end of the day and feeling like, "I barely have the brain power to watch The Smurfs right now."

Sidney Miller: True. How does that even show an aptitude of somebody?

Amy Tobey: What kind of aptitude have you heard people are looking for?

Sidney Miller: Throw a dart. What do you want to start with?

Amy Tobey: When you work with hiring managers, have you noticed patterns arise in what people think they're looking for when they write a coding test?

Sidney Miller: I think that companies who are very, very invested in innovation find other ways. Companies who just want to maintain the machine put you in a technical conversation, a test with a white board example. But then you have the scrappy startups, like where I work, where we don't necessarily need to see if you can perform under pressure. It doesn’t equate to you having innovation or your code working.

There are a million ways to view code. There are a million different people out there with a million different perspectives, and when you build an engineering team, are you going to say, "All right. The person who built the binary tree the fastest is going to be the person who leads this team." I certainly hope not.

Amy Tobey: Those skills are so very different.

Sidney Miller: It also depends on where the person came from, what they represent in their own life, what is important to them. That code will look different, and it should look different because when you're putting an engineering team together, you're not going to cookie cutter hire the same person over and over.

If you look at your team and you see the same thing, that's your inclusion problem. Because you're not bringing the world into your org.

Amy Tobey: I like that perspective. Can you go into that some more?

Sidney Miller: Absolutely. Let's say that your team is making the next best widget, because widget is a real fun term. Why would you form a team in San Francisco and only hire people who came from the same school, the same zip code, etc. when you’re creating software for the world?

Amy Tobey: There are these strange counter examples though. A few unicorns had crazy evaluations using that strategy.

Sidney Miller: Well that doesn't work all the time, though. When you're looking at building a team, if you don't represent the world, you're dead in the water. When I sit down with my leaders I say, "All right. What are you building?" and they say, "Okay, well I'm going to be building the next version of blah, blah, blah."

Then I ask, “What are you trying to solve the problem for? And in what part of the world?”

I worked at a place that had a really cool platform, and we were able to identify that there were people using the platform in the continent of Africa to find general services, which is much different than a person who's working in developing applications. This was a necessity based situation, so when you're building software, there should be somebody from that region in your team to give perspective on how it should run. 

Now, I get that's a very lofty goal, but have you talked to the candidates? Have you understood who they are and what they represent from a humanistic perspective?

When you're looking at building a team, if you don't represent the world, you're dead in the water.

Amy Tobey: I've gotten jobs a couple of times where it was based on my expertise on a particular space and both sides neglected to really do the cultural check portion of the interview. They definitely verified that I know Unix, Cassandra, and Java, but then I showed up and there wasn't a fit. In terms of the teams, they were very invested in keeping things the way they were and I didn't fit with that.

Sidney Miller: And that's not your fault. It's theirs and it's the talent team’s for not ensuring they knew what they were supposed to do before they left that meeting with the manager.

Amy Tobey: I want to see more people in positions like mine where we have a fair bit of power in the hiring process to ask hard questions. One of my favorites is, "Where is the nearest woman to me in the reporting tree?"

Sidney Miller: Exactly, that should be a question for every single person.

Amy Tobey: I agree, but I think right now especially the folks who are in high demand like SREs, infrastructure engineers, Go developers, and so on, have that extra power to ask those hard questions and not be taken out of consideration. For me, as a hiring manager, I want to hear those.

Sidney Miller: To keep it very, very simple, you don't hire pieces of paper. You hire human beings and the farther away you get from the human, the less fit it's going to be.

Bringing the world into your org is important not only because you are trying to build a really strong product, but also because you're trying to show the world that you care about these issues and removing the barriers. 

I remove barriers to entry for anyone that is not the 67% of most tech companies.

To keep it very, very simple, you don't hire pieces of paper. You hire human beings and the farther away you get from the human, the less fit it's going to be.

Amy Tobey: Can you come up with just a couple barriers and talk about how to kick those down?

Sidney Miller: I'll tell you the biggest one. It's your recruiter. I'm not a recruiter. I identify more with an engineering team because recruitment and recruiters have completely given us a bad name. Recruiters just open the funnel and take the first five off the top, which is mostly the 67%. The ones that are covered and hidden will always remain covered and hidden.

If you don't have a recruiting partner that has inclusion at the forefront of everything that they do, you will end up with a like-minded, like-looking, like-cultural team.

Amy Tobey: But that's not so much the people in recruiting positions doing something nefarious; there's some larger systemic issue at play.

Sidney Miller: No. It's their choice to make a difference and not just go on LinkedIn and run a quick keyboard search and send 3,000 emails out. That is not a human situation.

Amy Tobey: Are you talking about the recruiters that we get those anonymous-looking emails from? "Hey, would you be interested in this SRE position in Mountain View, CA for blah, blah, blah, blah." They all look the same and you know that a thousand other people got the same email.

Sidney Miller: Yeah.

Amy Tobey: So one of the roadblocks is that these people just aren't putting in the work.

Sidney Miller: They just take whatever falls in. They don't stop the pipelines and make sure that my LGBTQ+A non-binary trans friends have a seat at the table. And not only just have a seat, but get to eat and talk as well because there's a difference.

Everybody's always like, "Oh, we all have seats at the table." It's like, "Yeah, but are you going to feed me? And are you going to let me talk?"

I would say that the lack of interest and lack of devotion or passion around inclusion for those unheard voices is the No. 1 problem, and the person who is running your recruiting should have that acumen. They should understand that. Now, is that a pipe dream? Sure, because we all have jobs to do. But I left a very large organization because they did not work in a very inclusive way.

The lack of interest and lack of devotion or passion around inclusion for those unheard voices is the No. 1 problem, and the person who is running your recruiting should have that acumen.

Amy Tobey: They weren't putting in those practices to bring diverse voices to the top to encourage or incentivize their recruiters to go out and find those candidates.

Sidney Miller: They were just like, “Whatever warm body comes in and fits the skillsets is great.”

Amy Tobey: A lot of that's driven by incentives, right? What are the incentives that a head of recruiting or a VP of engineering has to play with to direct that behavior? What incentives have you experienced through your career? Do you get bonuses for resumes or hires? Do you get bonuses for hiring diverse candidates?

Sidney Miller: No.

Amy Tobey: Does your review process include a component of that, and should it?

Sidney Miller: Yes it does, and it depends on how the company sees inclusion and how they've set their targets.

When you're setting an inclusion process, you want to make sure that you understand what inclusion means. I've worked at several places where one category may be stronger than the other. I was at another large organization where they really needed the Asian influence and engineering perspective because they were lacking that, so that's what we went after. That was considered a diverse hire for that organization because that's what they really needed. 

However, the underrepresented minority categories are female, female identifying, LBGTQ+A non-binary and trans, veterans, disabled.

Amy Tobey: What some of the incentives are that recruiters experience that may influence their behavior?

Sidney Miller: Street cred and ego.

Amy Tobey: Can you break those down a little?

Sidney Miller: It’s the "I made more hires than you" mentality. Sixth grade all over again. I wish it wasn't true. And I don't want to sit here and bash, but it's also ego. It's totally, "I'm the best. I made this many hires. I made three inclusion hires last month." That's all great, but what does that do when you say that in front of the rest of your team? It starts to deteriorate the reason why we're all here. It's a culture issue.

Amy Tobey: The street cred becomes more important than the mission.

Sidney Miller: When you're starting to deal in ego versus real human issues, you're never going to win. 

The incentive for a recruiter is really to keep their job. If you can't recruit, especially if you're in a high volume environment, you're gone. So you're forced to recruit from your fight or flight.

When you're starting to deal in ego versus real human issues, you're never going to win.

Amy Tobey: That ties back to something I heard somebody tell me a while back: there are certain roles at some of these large organizations that recruiters try to stay away from because they're hard to hire for and they're even harder to hire diverse people for, so the metrics are almost impossible to hit.

That's hard on their ego and on their pocketbook, and it puts them at risk.

Sidney Miller: For example, think of medical device sales people. You need a knee replacement, and you talk to somebody who is like, "I got this great knee. And it's shiny and it's going to work and it's made of some sort of metal. I want you to talk to the doctor. He's going to fill you in on everything." 

Or you get someone like me who says, "Alright. This is what your knee is made out of. These are the dimensions. This is the size. This is what's going to happen to you. This functionality is going to work here, here, and here and this is why it's going to benefit you." 

Every engineer should leave the talent partner like you just got sold a new knee. And I don't want to say sold because this isn't about buying or selling anything, this is about giving people everything they need in that first conversation so you don't have to kick the can down the engineering manager's pathway so they waste 35 to 60 minutes doing the job that I was supposed to do.

Amy Tobey: I've had to do that before where a recruiter is more interested in volume than quality, so I get a pile of resumes and I go through them and get down to only four or five that I could actually phone screen. Or I’d just get the phone screens and they'd be terrible. I'd get on with the interviewee and be like, "All right. Let's do the exercise." They'd say, "We're doing coding?" and I'd be like, "You weren't told that?"

Sidney Miller: But how did they get past your person?

Amy Tobey: Because they were moving bodies as opposed to finding a fit for the organization.

Sidney Miller: Therein lies the systemic problem in all of this right there: more people, more bodies, more success. How about more humanity, less bullshit, and hiring the right people into the job which will be retained because they love what they're going to do.

Why isn't that the business standard? It used to be. I started recruiting in the '90s and I have seen the evolution. It's tanking. How many interviews have you been in the last 10 years that you're like, "What in the hell just happened and why wasn't I told that? And oh my God, this isn't even the right role."

Honestly, I think recruiters are lazy. They need to level up. I am not an engineer, but I can talk to an engineer and have them understand what their job would be because that's my job. It’s my duty as Sidney Miller to make sure you, Amy Tobey,  walk into that environment I told you about and say, "Yeah, Sidney told me all about this. This is great."

Then you can hit the ground running in a technical space instead of relearning the job specs and wasting everybody's time. You get to go in there and cut the mustard. My job is to nail down all the compensation expectations meaning ensuring that I understand the thresholds because it's illegal for anyone to ask you how much you make or ask you for a W-2.

Another way that you can combat this is you can ask legally for what the pay bands are for the level of the role that you are going to interview for. I do that in almost every first call.

Therein lies the systemic problem in all of this right there: more people, more bodies, more success. How about more humanity, less bullshit, and hiring the right people into the job which will be retained because they love what they're going to do.

Amy Tobey: I've talked to people and told them to do this, but they've expressed fear about doing it because they don't want to sound greedy. Have you run into this or that discomfort that some people have about talking about money?

Sidney Miller: Yes. All underrepresented minorities because how do you advocate for yourself when you're less than the 30%?

Amy Tobey: So one thing people can do to advocate for themselves is shut up, don't tell them what you made because you don't have to. If you're trying to make a big jump, the best move is to not say what you make now, but to ask what the pay band is for the job you're applying for.

Sidney Miller: Yes, so I do a lot of pro bono work. I'm really active on Twitter and I have helped some really amazing women advocate for themselves in the offer process, and that goes from startups all the way to the big ones. Since I've written so many offers in the backend platforms infrastructure space, I kind of know what the going rate is, so I'm kind of dangerous in that manner. But it's great because women specifically are just happy to be here, just to even have foot in the door. Not even a seat at the table or a full plate of food with a voice.

Amy Tobey: Due to the lifetime of socialization to not ask for more.

Sidney Miller: There's this great statistic: 30% of women will only apply to a job if they are a 90% match on skills. Men will apply if they're a 40% match. So guess what's filling the pipelines? 

Women are often just happy they got through the first part of the interview process because statistics show that women and underrepresented minorities fall off in the first to second interview process. They'll make it past the recruiter, have the first call, and then they won't move forward in the process. 

The company says that's not a right fit, that they're not skilled enough or whatever the million different reasons are. So women just feel fortunate enough to get through the end of the interview cycle. When they get the offer they're like, "Oh, great. This is awesome. I'm so excited," unless they are someone like yourself or myself that has been through this a little bit or have had some really great mentors along the way that have given you the confidence to speak up and say, "No, that isn't a great offer. What is the pay band for the rest of my team?" 

Amy Tobey: If they come back and say E4 makes this much, then you say, "Did you qualify me as an E4?" If they say, "No, we categorized you as E3,” then ask for more. Be curious and say, "Why? I know I have the skills to meet the requirements of these higher levels." 

There's always that downward pressure that people, especially hiring managers, put on everybody, especially unprivileged folks.

My favorite bullshit line from hiring managers is, "Well, what I want to do is hire you at an E3 so that we have room to grow into the next level."

Sidney Miller: That's a barrier. 

Amy Tobey: And you don't have the incentives to perform at the same level of people who are paid more and rewarded more. It's really impossible for anybody to expect you to perform at the same level on a consistent basis.

Sidney Miller: I've been in situations where I have hired people in specific cities (tier one, two and three) and done cost comparison analysis of living conditions.

Amy Tobey: So tier one, two, three is the city-dependent salary for the same people in different geographies.

Sidney Miller: Right. In one situation, I was working with an engineer and took her through the entire process knowing what the band is paying. She did disclose her current salary to me. When we looked at the offer, I was like, "Well, I just wrote another offer for somebody three weeks ago that's in the same city and it's about $60,000 more and they're at the same level."

And so then I then made it my responsibility to close that pay gap because when you looked at them, side by side, they were exactly the same.

I started to do that as my practice to make sure that any offer that I'm going to produce is going to be fair and equitable.

Amy Tobey: But this is you, Sidney, choosing a line and holding yourself to a standard that is not the standard that most organizations are going to hold you to.

Sidney Miller: But it should be.

Amy Tobey: I agree. I just wanted to make that clear.

Sidney Miller: It used to be.

Amy Tobey: Oh, it used to be?

Sidney Miller: It used to be. The way I was taught back in the day was integrity was everything and you make sure that everything is crisp and cool for anyone that joins the company. When I looked at that person’s offer and I said, "Okay, manager, you have this person here and this person here and they're getting paid this and then you have this brand new female engineer. You needed the perspective, we got her. You're going to pay her here." And they said, "Okay."

Amy Tobey: So it just took somebody doing that challenge and shining light on it. In a lot of these organizations, if we want to assume that people are moving forward with the best of intentions, we have to backtrack a little and go, "Well, they probably never compared those two things." Without that intentional effort to make the comparison, this is probably not going to happen.

Sidney Miller: Well, and it's funny because people get really pissed off about it too. They're like, "Well, what do you mean they want more money?" It's like, "No, it's not about anybody wanting more money. It's about doing the right thing."

Amy Tobey: And doing the right thing for everybody in the situation.

You want everybody to be at the same level of privilege so that they can all perform and communicate at the same level.

Sidney Miller: Because that's a control mechanism that we have, yet people have this thought, "Oh, well, you're just paying them because you need to.” No, because it's the right thing to do, which given the climate right now, we should be doing more of.

Stick your neck out. Just do what you know that your grandparents would want you to do. Are they going to roll over in their grave because of the decision you just made to undercut somebody? Are you going to sleep tonight? 

Maybe I'm just too old school, but whatever. Anyways, I was able to deliver that offer and that individual cried. I said, "Look, I know that this is a really healthy offer for you, but it's the right thing to do for you and go crush it." And she did and she's still there.

That's the retention story because we did the right things upfront. Here's another great example of what recruiters can do to make it good and also make the individual that's joining the company feel part of something bigger. Recently, I had an individual that cares for his spouse's mother in home care.

And the benefits package that was given does not cover those costs. Elderly dependent care is a big thing because a lot of children are now assuming the role of caretaker. There's a lot of great companies that extend their benefits packages to include things like adult care.

Amy Tobey: I wish there was more of that.

Sidney Miller: At this company, their benefits did not include that. In our final offer call, I go over benefits. Every human has a different set of needs. So for this individual, it was going to cost them out of pocket $12,000 because the insurance that the company provided did not cover adult care.

So I, as the talent partner, went to leadership and said, "Here's the situation. We are not giving this a fair and equitable comparison. We need to do something." And they did.

Amy Tobey: Oh, that's wonderful. So the recruiter or the talent partner acting as the internal advocate for the candidate and not just the company is what creates these situations where people hire in and then they're happy.

Sidney Miller: Isn't that weird?

Amy Tobey: You'd think that'd be the goal, but it doesn't always work out that way.

Sidney Miller: I wish it did. I just don't know what the secret sauce really is. Maybe just remembering what integrity is and how to be kind? It seems to be that simple. Am I wrong?

I just don't know what the secret sauce really is. Maybe just remembering what integrity is and how to be kind? It seems to be that simple.

Amy Tobey: I had this situation this morning where I had to bring up integrity with my child. It was homework that was assigned digitally and he was trying to do it. He read the material and filled out most of the crossword on environmental science and then the last answer was a really tough one. It was a six letter word, the second to last letter was U and the clue was, "It's an inexhaustible resource."

And we're all scratching our heads. We're like, "What the heck could this possibly be? It's not helium. Helium is depletable. In fact, we have shortages. So what could it possibly be?" We could not figure this out. There's no six letter word that makes sense here.

And so he had already learned to right click in the browser and hit “inspect element.” I think I showed him once we were trying to download an image or something. And that's where I have to be careful with this child, because he only needs to see it once and then I'll never hear about it again. It just happens.

Sidney Miller: Or somebody calls you and says, "Hey, listen."

Amy Tobey: There's a gang of kids right now that have been educated how to mod parts of Minecraft by him because he figured one little piece and then learned how to do whole resource packs on his own. 

So when I saw him do the inspecting, I walked up and said, "Hey, let's go look at the code." And so we opened the inspector and we went down into the Javascript code and the answers were right there. We found that the answer was the sun, all mashed together as one word. 

So we had to have a discussion about this because what we did was technically cheating. If he told his teacher what we did, I'd probably get a call. But in reality, if I got that call, I'd have to say, "Look, we were in a situation where the answer was not apparent."

But again, it's that discussion about integrity and having to say, "Now you have this ability to look and find the answers to some of these things and yes, the school is responsible for the security of the tools they use, but I need you to still do the work."

Sidney Miller: It's almost exactly what we just talked about with recruiting. We know that we could take the easier way out because of volume and scale. So there's no integrity left. It's a repeatable thing if there's no boundaries or other recourse. 

I love that story. He's so amazing.

Amy Tobey: I was wondering if you had stories about having these tricky conversations with your kids, especially about integrity.

Sidney Miller: I've got so many good ones. I will bring this one up because I think it's relevant, beautiful, and heartbreaking, and I'm so stinking proud of my daughter for doing this.

So my oldest daughter is 11. She's going into the sixth grade and she's got a best friend at school who is a boy. One day she came home and said, "Mom, the girls at the table were being kind of mean to my friend." And I was like, "Oh, yeah? Why?" And she said, "Well, they were calling him gay." 

I'm like, "Okay, and what did you do?" And she says, "Well, I didn't think that was nice." I said, "Well, have you talked with him?" And she goes, "Well, yeah, I have and he thinks he might be." I was like, "Okay. And how did you react to him?" She said, "I told him that my mom and dad talked to me about being kind and that no matter what that I'll still be his friend. And it doesn't matter if he likes boys or girls."

I was like, "Honey, I'm so proud of you. What did you say to the other girls?" And she goes, "Well, I stuck up for him. And I told them even if he is, you shouldn't be talking to him like this."

And I said, "You know what that is? That's integrity. I'm so, so proud of you." And she goes, "Yeah, he's just a person. It doesn't matter who he loves." And I'm like, "You're 11-years-old and you just stood up to a table full of real jerky girls that were calling him out and I think that, that's amazing and special."

We need to start talking about these things: about the elephants in the room, about the things that people don't like to talk about. We need to talk about compensation and we need to talk about our rights as women. 

Yeah, I'm sitting at the table, but am I at the end of the table with no one to talk to? Or I'm a disabled person that has needs and the company doesn't take care of me.

If you just start each conversation, with an open mind, it makes a difference. How dare I show up to a meeting with a preconceived notion about who this person is? I've got something to learn from every single person. They may or may not be the right candidate, but they're still a human and they should feel valued.

Amy Tobey: And so worthy of dignity and respect.

Sidney Miller: There's very little respect in a lot of these processes because they're just run, run, run. We're all so busy, busy, busy. It's like, "Slow down. Bring the humans back up." Because you don't have head count, you have actual human beings. I am totally on a mission to eradicate the world of headcount.

Amy Tobey: What I think about in regards to this hyper focus on hiring, hiring, and hiring in so many of these organizations and what I have asked before is, “What are we doing to stop the people leaving? What are we doing to stop this need to keep rehiring people? We hired 100 people last year and we only have 30 of them. What the fuck happened?”

Sidney Miller: Those 30 were matched correctly at the beginning. They were matched to the right technology, the right leaders, the right team because someone did the pre-work. Why are we monetizing code and monetizing the code people produce versus seeing that people actually do this work and giving them a human experience?

Amy Tobey: Before we close out, I wanted to touch on one more thing: your Twitter bio says that you are an inclusion strategist for those who can not have a voice. What is that?

Sidney Miller: When I open my computer every morning, I need to figure whose voice is missing. So I look at every new role as an opportunity to make it inclusive first.

Amy Tobey: You find those opportunities to bring in new voices doing your daily work, and then you also do some stuff outside of work in support of that mission, right?

Sidney Miller: I'm really, really active in Pride Month, which kicked off yesterday. Happy Pride! I support everything I can from One n Ten here locally in Phoenix to employee resource groups. I do my pro bono work and facilitate network introductions for people that I don't necessarily know because it's the right thing to do. 

Being an inclusion strategist is really about taking your scope of work and ensuring that those who fall into the inclusion model get seen. My pathways are 100% underrepresented minorities first, so people who are not the 60, 67% of the tech world, I will source and pull those voices up and give them an opportunity first.

And I've taken some heat on Twitter this last week.  But it's about giving people an opportunity that y'all have had for centuries.

Amy Tobey: If you don't find those voices, you're building a weaker organization the way that monocrops are vulnerable to a number of things that more diverse crops aren't. In our organizations, if we don't bring those voices in, then we start to get echo chambers; we start to get patterns in the culture that are undesirable.

Sidney Miller: When you give someone the opportunity to shine it's up to them to take care of the rest. It's my job to open the door and let them walk through it, and if I keep that door shut, that's my problem. It's not the engineering team lead’s, it's not the company’s, it's mine because I've been tasked with finding people who are not the 67% and if I only just shuffle it through, I'm not doing my job. 

I get up every day and put Molotov Cocktails and grenades in my tool belt and I say, "All right. What glass am I breaking today on behalf of my people?" Everybody has an opportunity, but for those who don't have that large of a margin of opportunity, they get helped first.

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