It was early April, and I arrived in Santa Clara in the days preceding ChefConf 2015. Levi’s Stadium and the surrounding area was filled with 125,000 wrestling fans. There were seven matches on the main card. The Undertaker contested his first match in almost a year. The Levi’s Stadium attendance record was smashed by six thousand people.

Men, women, families, friends, afros, mullets, tank tops, leather pants, folding chairs, wheelchairs… it seemed as if every possible variant of humanity from all fifty states and forty countries were in Santa Clara, ready to rumble.

In the Hyatt Regency lobby following the main event, it was clear that we have something to learn from WrestleMania about inclusion.

What does it mean to be inclusive? What does it mean when we talk about race, sex, sexual orientation, differences in abilities, and the intersection of all these things?

Change involves risk

We want our community and our culture to be an equitable safe haven for everyone, and we want everyone to feel welcome and respected. And we know that if we are typical, we are not doing it right.

In our DevOps community, we have all become familiar with the idea that change involves risk. We know how to apply it to our offices and to our code, but we don’t always know how to apply risk to our lives.

Be courageous. Be open. Be respectful of the knowledge and experience of others. Be ourselves. Have dialogues with people with whom we don’t always agree. Know when to recognize how it feels when we take a risk to change ourselves to accept someone else.

An individual cannot be diverse

I am not “diverse,” I am myself. You are not “diverse,” you are yourself. I like what I like, and I am who I am. You are yourself, and you are who you are. Diversity can only emerge from a collection of individuals.

Think about how being accepted as an individual feels:

  • Instead of feeling intimidated, you feel emboldened.
  • Instead of feeling isolated, you feel integrated.
  • Instead of feeling ignored, you feel noticed.
  • Instead of feeling harassed, you feel encouraged.

Imagine how it would feel if everyone around you felt emboldened, integrated, noticed, and encouraged. As an individual, embrace yourself as much as you embrace others. Embrace the risk to be yourself, and accept others for who they are.

We have a well-documented and well-studied problem in our industry regarding diversity. What is our culture? Are we diverse? Are we inclusive? It’s not up to us to decide that. It’s up to us to show that.

If you have a story you’d like to share about feeling intimidated, isolated, ignored, harassed, emboldened, integrated, noticed, or encouraged, email [email protected].

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Kevin Dickerson

Former Chef Employee