Fedora Project Podcast

Fedora Diversity & Inclusion Team

Episode Summary

Episode 006 features part of the main crew of the Diversity & Inclusion Team Amita Sharma, Bee, Jona Azizaj and Justin Flory. They talk about what is the purpose of the team, their objectives and how the team work inside a huge, community project.

Episode Notes

The Diversity & Inclusion team has the objective of help foster diversity in the Fedora community.  One of the initiative that people usually knows is the Fedora Woman Day (FWD), but they do more, much more. You can find more about the D&Y team, check their docs.

Episode Transcription

Fedora Diversity & Inclusion Team - Interview with Amita Sharma, Bee, Jona Azizaj and Justin Flory

Eduard Lucena:
[00:08] Welcome to the "Fedora Podcast." I'm Eduard Lucena from the marketing team of the Fedora Project. I'm here with Justin, Bee, Jona, and Amita of the Diversity Team of the Fedora Project. Hello, you guys.

Justin Flory:
[00:20] Hello.

Amita Sharma:
[00:21] Hello.

Jona Azizaj:
[00:22] Hello.

Bee:
[00:22] Hi.

Eduard:
[00:23] Hi. We are here because we have this team called Diversity and Inclusion Team. We'd like to hear about how did you start this journey, the diversity team, and why we have a diversity team?

Amita:
[00:40] I'm Amita. I work for Diversity Team in Fedora. I started my contribution from Fedora Q&A, initially. Two and a half year back, I read a post on the "Fedora Magazine" by Matthew Miller which says that they wanted to introduce the diversity advisor that was a new team in Fedora.
[01:00] That is where he wanted some applications to be submitted why diversity is important within the Fedora community, and why we should choose the particular applicant for the team. I wrote an application and, fortunately, got elected. He formed the team along with a few more members.
[01:22] This was a team who were requested to onboard a very first step for the diversity advisors two years back. That was how Tatica came into it as a diversity advisor. He joined the team. He started the team, then slowly Justin joined, Bee joined, Jona joined , and then we started Fedora Women Day and everything.
[01:45 This is how the team got formed, and this is how I generally started in Fedora as a Fedora Diversity Team contributor. We have came a long way since then. We have done a lot of things and initiatives in Fedora from the diversity perspective. It's not just the Fedora Women Day. We have done the LGBT Day as well.
[01:43] We had the events, and they are the global events which I guess we say are unique events when making things happen. Now we are also work on an initiative for The Flock, which will showcase and show the diversity in a better manner. That's it from my side. I won't take much time because others needs to speak more as well. Justin, you might want to pitch in.

Justin:
[02:42] Sure. I think Amita got it right about how things started for the team. I got involved right after the diversity adviser was selected, because there wasn't really a formal team around when the diversity adviser entered the community. A few people wanted to help out and get involved any way they could to help the diversity adviser with the work.
[03:03] The way it happened naturally was, a team of people formed around the diversity adviser. For me, I got involved around the beginning point when the diversity adviser became a member of the community. I was just helping out with getting things organized, trying to figure out some of the objectives and charges for this team to work on and focus in for the upcoming years.
[03:28] Probably the first point we were together as a team was at Flock 2016, where we held a panel of various Fedora contributors in the community to talk about diversity and inclusion in the project, as well as other things and aspirations that we wanted for the community. That was around the time that I got involved. Bee or Jona?

Bee:
[03:48] Yeah. I first started contributing to Fedora in Fedora community outpatient scheme. I was doing a talk about my work there at Flock 2016. I met Amita at Flock 2016, and she invited me to be a part of diversity panel, where we were discussing about different diversity and inclusion-related issues in Fedora community.
[04:18] Eventually, I started getting more involved with the work we were doing with Fedora. There was a D and inclusion team, which was called Fedora diversity team back then. We organized for the Women's Day. We also worked on a community survey together to get a better understanding about the Fedora community, which would be launched soon. We had a lot of other efforts.
[04:47] I started contributing and I loved the work we were doing, so I stay. I just want to mention here that, even though we are a small team right now, we are still looking to grow. If you want to join the team, we would definitely love to have you help us with our efforts because changing and with making the community more diverse and inclusive is not a job for just a team.
[05:23] It is a job for a whole community, and it's good if everybody is in it together.

Jona:
[05:28] The same history was also for me. I heard about the Fedora Diversity Team when Tatica was the Fedora advisor. Later on, I was part of the panel that we did at Flock 2016. Later on, we joined our forces and we started to work more and doing more consolidating our goals.
_[05:55]_Especially the FAD that we did in Brno was very important for us, especially for the survey that Bee mentioned and other things that we are doing.

Eduard:
[06:09] Cool. It's good to have so diverse team: Right now, we have three girls, I have Justin here, and I'm part of the Diversity Team, too. Maybe it's not too big, but it's really diverse team. In this regard, why we think it's important to have a Diversity and Inclusion Team? What value does diversity and inclusive community bring to the project?

Bee:
[06:36] I want to go first here. I wanted to say that even in Fedora's four foundations, friends has always been one of the four foundations. We have a strong, caring community where people work together and we are like a family community to help each other to continue to grow.
[07:01] We have the concept of inclusion and having everybody helping each other to make our project better together, even make in our mission and the four foundations. This has been in Fedora community since long. With inclusion, we want to have a variety of perspectives with people from different backgrounds, with different perspectives and difference experience to the table.
[07:39] That helps them to bring value to the project, make you help collaborate better and get different aspects, like different point of views to what we are doing.

Jona:
[07:55] I wanted to add something to what Bee said. A community, to be very healthy, it's very important to be very diverse and inclusive. Fedora Project has a very big community that works a lot together. We have a place where everyone can be part of our community and contribute because there are so many activities and so many things that they can do.
_[08:38]_It doesn't matter if it's technical things or it's coding or it's not coding. We have a lot of teams that needs help. They can be part of marketing, CommOps, or even our team, for example, Diversity and Inclusion Team. There are many ways, different backgrounds that people can join and be part of the community.
_[09:07]_It's very important because, in this way, the community is more healthy, can be bigger and grow more.

Amita:
[09:17] That's true. I agree with Jona and Bee. Just to add nuance to the question is that diversity and inclusion is not just in what we call one or other communities. The concept is important for any society, for any community. At Fedora, we adopted all those good things, and as it says, the four F-things.
[09:45] That is all the basic freedom, all the basic things which Fedora has been adopting. Since the starting of the Diversity and Inclusion Team, it's more clear and visible that Fedora is accepting all the people, all the particular users from the different background, different countries, in spite of whatever they believe in. Everybody is respected in Fedora community despite their background, that makes it stronger, even stronger with each countributor, and diverse and more colorful. That is why diversity inclusion is really important for any of the community. I'm happy that Fedora adopted it, it's so good.

Bee:
[10:28] We still have a long way to go.

Justin:
[10:33] I really think too, that diversity and inclusion, even though we have the friends part of our four foundations, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to all four parts of the four foundations of the project. Even the project mission statement of the technical goals and focus of how we want to build and innovate, not only as a Linux operating system but as a community of people around them.
[11:00] Diversity and inclusion, to me, is also about, and this was already said, including these different perspectives and points of view that you're incorporating into that feedback loop in your community.
[11:15] When you have one consistent or uniform group of people who are providing that feedback, working on the project, solving problems and issues, you're limiting your perspective, even at a technical level, to a certain group of people.
[11:30] By focusing and making diversity a priority item, and making it part of the initiative of trying to include more diverse range of points of view and other perspectives, you're actually making a better project and better software as a result. I think a lot of people will ask like, "Well, like what's coming?"
[11:48] I think it's easier to understand some of the non-technical benefits too of just building a healthy community, of having positive feedback loops, and having a welcoming and friendly community to get new people involved, but it also goes at a technical level too, because you're inviting so much more perspectives and a range of the insights you can gain from all different kinds of people from around the world with different experiences. It also has a very tangible and even measurable effect on the technical prowess of your project.
[12:22] That's why one of the things that was very important to us, like I mentioned before, was building a demographic survey so we could actually understand who are our community. I really love to look at a lot of the other data sets that are provided by other projects.
[12:38] You can see how projects that make diversity and inclusion a line of priority for their projects, how that can even influence the technical output of their projects.

Eduard:
[12:49] Sure. I think for example, in my case, the thing that bring me to the Fedore Project was the community itself. Having a diverse community can attract more and more people here, and this will be big to the project.

Bee:
[13:03] Exactly. It's about making open source communities like Fedora more open to people from different backgrounds, different experiences so that everybody feels welcome here. It's about that.

Eduard:
[13:22] Working in diversity is not easy, because you never know what you need to do to include more people. What are the effort that the diversity and inclusion team have done? What of these efforts have been the major success into the diversity team?

Bee:
[13:41] We have efforts focused on different areas. We have a few internal efforts to focus towards Fedora community, to understand our Fedora community better, and to make it more inclusive. We also have outreach efforts to bring more contributors from diverse backgrounds into Fedora community, like Fedora Women's Day, and so on. Our efforts are really in all directions.
[14:19] One of our outreach efforts, like we have mentioned before is Fedora Women's Day, where we highlight and celebrate the women in our Fedora community, and also other open-source projects. We organized Fedora Women's day in around 10 different locations last year across South America, Europe, and Asia.
[14:49] We had a lot of Fedora users. We basically promoted free and open-source software, and how Fedora is good for them. We also introduced them on how to start contributing to Fedora community. We had a lot of female attendees, so I hope they learned a lot. Most of them I feel did not know much about open source software before they attended the event.
[15:22] At least after attending the event, they were able to understand why Fedora and open source software could help them, why it is another alternative to all other softwares they're using right now. We also have efforts which are focused more on the mood within our community.
[15:47] We had a video call on LGBTQ last year, where we discussed how we could create more efforts for people from underrepresented backgrounds and especially LGBTQ community in Fedora, how we could make Fedora community more inclusive for them. It was a casual discussion on that day. One of the main things we've worked on during the last year was a community survey.
[16:38] We basically put together a few questions, which can help us better understand the representation in our community. This is really, really something which we have wanted to do since a long time. I feel whatever effort we direct towards our community, if we don't understand our community well, it's not good enough.

Eduard:
[17:04] We have a lot of things we can focus or show focus with the diversity team. What are the diversity inclusion team top priorities in the federal community right now?

Amita:
[17:19] Now currently, though we have many issues to handle in open source there, but the top priorities which we are working currently on this year now is making Fedora events more inclusive and diverse. For that, we have discussed the proposal with Brian for the upcoming major event, which is Flock. For that, we have come up with the guidelines.
[17:49] We did a video call with all the team members, and with Brian, and with help for the different suggestions. We are coming up with these guidelines. Some of them are like to have the quiet rooms available and to support a childcare facility if somebody would like to come with their children. There are so many guidelines over there. Nothing is finalized as of yet, but we have some work done.
[18:27] We are also helping develop programs for the contributors to post on inclusion in our community. That is what we are concentrating on doing this quarter. The Fedora Women's Day has been a very successful event since last two years. We have seen that every year it is growing, the more and more regions and countries are getting involved in it to organize it.
[18:58] This year also we would like to have a successful Fedora Women's Day. In the countries we've had previously, in the places, more than 10 places across the globe has celebrated it last year. We are targeting more than 10 places this year to celebrate Fedora Women's Day from the diversity team.
[19:22] Some of the focus of the team and the percentage of our work through all efforts will also go for the workshop we're going to do in Flock this year. That is what our current priorities are in the Fedora community. That's it from my side if somebody would like to add something to it.

Bee:
[19:31] I just wanted to say that Amita was talking about Brian Exelbierd, our Fedora Community Action and Impact Coordinator. We are working together with him to develop the event guidelines. We want to publish them as guidelines to help support organizers, event organizers from Fedora community, to make the events more diverse and inclusive.
[20:07] Yes, hopefully, we will be able to get feedback from the community and review them at Flock. We are looking forward to that.

Eduard:
[20:17] Cool. That sounds like a lot of work. Having these heavy agenda and a lot of things we want to accomplish with the diversity inclusion team, how can other people get involved with the team? How is the onboarding process in the Diversity and Inclusion Team in the Fedora project?

Bee:
[20:46] We really want people from Fedora community to join us and help us in these efforts. Obviously, we are open to other newcomers to the Fedora community to help us too. We really want you to have a bit more background with the Fedora community, because the challenges we faced to the community, some of them are unique.
[21:19] We want you to have a better understanding before you join and start working towards these efforts. If you are already an existing contributor to Fedora, it is very simple. Just join our IRC meetings, or just say hello on the mailing list or IRC. We also have a telegram bridge to our IRC channel and we are pretty active. You can just say hi there.
[21:52] You can take a look at our different issues and better, and leave your feedback and comments. If you want to take on a bigger chunk or contribute more, maybe you can help us organize a Fedora Women's Day in your local community. Your background, and your gender or your experience, is very important to us. We value all different perspectives.
[22:31] If you feel like you want to bring more local women from your community into Fedora, or an open-source, or just give us more feedback from your perspective, everything is welcome. No contribution is too small or too big. We want everyone to have something.
[22:56] If you feel like this is all still a bit too much, you have too much on your plate right now, I just want to say that you can always do your small bit to help Fedora become a more inclusive community. When there any newcomers or just any Fedora contributor who is asking for your help, or just commenting on the issue in particular, is just be kind and considerate in your response to them.
[23:32] Think about that you were a first time contributed too sometimes. Sometimes we just assume things, say short forms or acronyms like FWD for Fedora Women's Day, but not everyone might know that. Be kind, be considerate. If they don't know just, you can help them elaborate. It doesn't take too much of your time, and it really helps to make the community incredible.
[24:03] It helps everyone a lot.

Jona:
[24:07] I would say Fedora contributors are not only people that know very well Fedora community and etc., but even other people that have worked on diversity and inclusion groups being part of other communities like python community or, I don't know, LibreOffice community and etc. They can share with us some of their experience.
[25:00] It would be great to join forces together, and help us with what we can do, and so on. Also, as Bee mentioned, everyone, even if it's a newcomer and doesn't know what to do, the first thing that they can do is joining our meetings that we have every Friday, that it's 3:00 PM UTC+2. Right, Bee?

Bee:
[25:34] I think the updated time is on the Wiki page. Just check diversity in Wiki page to find the updated time, or you can ask us...

Jona:
[25:35] To find the right time. They can check the different issue that we have on Pagure. They can see from the issues where they can help us, or they can give some feedback there. Even if they have a new idea that they want to implement, or they want our feedback, or etc., we can just open a new issue and we can discuss about that.
[26:03] What is really important, as we mentioned, having local contributors from different countries that want to organize Fedora Women's Day and not only that. We'll be very happy to talk with them, collaborate with them, and have them help to organize this event in their country. They know it better, the community, they can have a follow up with the attendees, and so on.
[26:35] We'd be very happy if they would just come at our meetings or even be part of our mailing list. They can just meet us there so we can see how we can do something together.

Eduard:
[26:50] Cool. This is something really awesome, the job you're doing here. We hope we can help even other communities, or bring what other communities are doing here.

Bee:
[27:03] Yes. I just want to mention one thing quickly. If you haven't heard of Fedora Appreciation Week, I urge you all to check out the community blog post on Fedora Appreciation Week. We will have a bit of fun in November.
[27:25] The diversity and community operations team are working together to have this event, where Fedora community members will appreciate each other, as we thank each other for all the good work they are doing. We are collecting stories about contributors from contributors now.
[27:49] If you have any story about any Fedora community member who has helped you to get started in open-source or Fedora, or just they helped you fix a bug, or you didn't know something and they help you answer that, maybe it was something small or it was something big like fixing an issue, we are collecting those different kind of experiences and stories.
[28:18] If you want to say thanks to someone or appreciate someone, you can submit that in a Fedora CommOps, community operations team, contributor story Pagure, and feed any issue. If you want to keep it anonymous, it will remain anonymous. We are doing that right now.
[28:38] It is a really small contribution, but you can do that and just be one step forward in making Fedora more inclusive, and also appreciate someone for the good work they're doing in the Fedora differences.

Eduard:
[29:00] Sure. This is a great...

Jona:
[29:03] It's very important to say thank you to someone and value all their contribution.

Eduard:
[29:07] I'm very proud to be the first history uploaded to the Pagure, in the contributor history. Yes, please. I would love your stories.

Bee:
[29:18] Really? You were the first one? Wow.

Jona:
[29:20] Thank you for doing that.

Eduard:
[29:21] I really try to drive people to write their histories. I don't know how many histories that we have now, but I think we are going to, and it's open.

Bee:
[29:35] I think about five or more.

Jona:
[29:39] Also if people want to stay anonymous, and say their names, or publish their story, they are able to do that.

Bee:
[29:49] I think the first story is anonymous, and then you can see a few example ones later on. Definitely, if you don't feel like everyone should know, but you still want to appreciate the person who helped, or say thanks, you should do it.
[30:10] On open-source, everybody is helping someone, but it's very rare that you actually get to appreciate and thank them for their efforts. I feel like this is something good we are doing.

Jona:
[30:28] We usually do on IRC, so we do plus/plus to someone that has done something. It's really nice now to write a story, probably about the person.

Eduard:
[30:36] Yes, to get more cookies. I will talk about cookies in another episode.

Jona:
[30:45] And a bit of badges. [laughs] People love cookies and also badges.

Eduard:
[30:46] Sure, we can talk a little bit about the badges with the assigned team that you will hear in the next episode. This is really important for us. You guys, you have something extra to add to this and say good-bye to people?

Jona:
[31:06] Thank you for doing this podcast with the Fedora Diversity Team.

Bee:
[31:12] Fedora Diversity and Inclusion Team.

Jona:
[31:12] Yeah, sorry about that. I thought that I said it right. Sorry. [laughs] So more people can know the work that we have done until now. We are planning how people can get involved, which is amazing. Thank you.

Bee:
[31:38] Thanks a lot, Eduard, for having us on this podcast. We just decided on a team name so everything is still learning, earlier was Fedora Diversity Team, and now we are Fedora Diversity and Inclusion Team.

Jona:
[31:55] We need to get use to that.

Bee:
[31:55] We are still [laughs] getting used to it. It was really nice what you're doing here. Thanks for having us. To all the listeners, if you really want to help us, you're always welcome. You can contribute. Just join a meeting. Comment on our issues, or you can contribute a story. Also you can organize a Fedora Women's Day or just talk to us and we can...

Eduard:
[32:27] Good-bye, people. We'll see you in the next episode we'll be releasing the next weeks. Bye-bye.

Jona:
[32:34] Bye.

Bee:
[32:34] Bye.