Rafting Up (aka Making Connections) in Tech and Beyond
Wheelhouse DMG Goes to WiT 2019
If you haven’t heard about the Women in Tech (WiT) Regatta that sailed through town in late April, then you have been missing the boat. This unique conference connecting wo(men) in tech to mentors, peers, and resources is in its 3rd year and has recently expanded to Vancouver BC and Amsterdam venues.
In Seattle, over the course of one week, 50 individual 2-hour sessions were presented at multiple locations with multiple panelists. The conference goal: To be a strategic center for positive change and innovation for workplace diversity and women in technology, with Relationships Are the True Currency as the overarching theme for the week. The education, encouragement, and opportunity for connection that ensued was available to people of all genders, career levels, and areas of expertise.
Fifteen Wheelhouse employees embarked on this five-day journey, attending 34 of the 50 offered seminars which were broken into the thematic groups of Tech Mavens, Inclusive Culture and Allyship, Leadership, Startups, and Career Acumen. Session titles ranged from A Discourse on Ethics, Data, & Technology, to Leading from Every Chair: Multi-Dimensional Leadership, to In Their Own Words: Stories of Underrepresented Voices in Tech. Panelists took a deep dive into discussions on how to authentically show vulnerability in order to gain employee and co-worker trust, steps to take when launching a new business idea, and where to invest resources (both time and financially) when an idea appears to be failing – plus much, much more.
What We Learned at WiT
Each session began with a one-hour MC-led panelist discussion and wrapped with a one-hour breakout session, where the attendees split into small groups to explore the topic at hand, make connections, help brainstorm individual career or personal roadblocks, and be generally supportive of one another. The takeaways from the conference were many and varied. Here’s just a snapshot of what our Wheelhouse employees had to say:
- Talia attended the Take Your Seat at the Table: Building Credibility seminar and loved the sentiment that you don’t actually have to have a seat (at the table) to “have a seat”. You can champion ideas from wherever you are within an organization – a concept that seems obvious, but often gets lost in organizational hierarchy. It was helpful to hear it stated.
- At the Navigating Immigration & Working Visas seminar, Pilar learned that signing up for E-Verify is free, legal, and an easy inclusive step companies can take to begin the process of hiring non-US citizens.
- Teresa appreciated the reminder at the Diversity by Design: Including Immigrant Women of Color in Tech seminar that if you don’t have a point of view, someone else will have one for you. Take the time to understand what drives you and why you do what you do.
- In the Shifting the Culture in Male Dominated Industry seminar, the idea that having good intentions does not translate to impact, really struck Sunni. In order to make change within an organization, there must be an intentional plan combined with accountability metrics.
- Be good stewards of data was an important message to Etana at the Discourse on Ethics, Data, and Technology Humans are inherently biased, and humans design Artificial Intelligence (AI). In an ever-evolving technological world, it is our responsibility to use data ethically.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Next Steps
Once we disembarked from this year’s WiT educational and inspirational voyage, our Wheelhouse group decided we needed to put the energy and inspiration acquired from several years of WiT attendance together with recent internal diversity work. Along with fellow co-workers and allies, we officially formed our first Diversity, Equity, Inclusion committee with the goal of removing obstacles from and creating opportunities for underrepresented communities. Paired with our existing Wheelhouse mission – to be the best place to work for as many people as possible – and our culture of hospitality, we are truly excited to see where Wheelhouse DMG goes from here. Stay tuned for updates on our future DEI projects.