Here at M3AAWG, we seek to improve the lives of people by improving the security and trust of our digital communications. For our efforts to be meaningful, our solutions must work for all people and consider how they will affect diverse groups of people, directly and indirectly. Therefore we have been educating our members on problems above and beyond their respective fields of expertise. People make the difference in fighting abuse, and as an organization run by volunteers, we know and understand that the solutions to complex problems must include this knowledge and understanding.
To this end, we have been building an organizational foundation based on a M3AAWG diversity and inclusion strategy. Here are our current focus areas:
Achieving and embracing a diverse and inclusive culture is always extremely challenging and must be a core priority of the organization, including assigned leadership accountability. M3AAWG created a Board level initiative and associated organizational goals to support its diversity and inclusion strategy with a program that is led by the Board of Directors’ Vice Chair.
Being a working group focused on solving industry cybersecurity anti-abuse challenges, diverse member contributions and shared experiences are critical to our overall success. With that, we have been working to provide our community a variety of ways to plug into our various M3AAWG initiatives. Examples of this include open roundtable discussions, office hours with committee chairs to make our leadership more accessible, topical luncheons, a formal mentorship program, and shared experiences presented as our keynote speakers.
Based on our experience the last two years, we have found that diversity is much easier to achieve than inclusion. While we recognize that recruiting and hiring a diverse workforce is hard work, it is also easier to track, quantify and report. The inclusion gap is much more difficult to address and measure, yet it is very real and exists inside most organizations.
Many employers and associations are working toward creating a truly diverse workforce – they just are not as prepared to make people feel included and supported as they should be. The leadership at M3AAWG is seeing this problem as well and we are trying to do something about it.
The job of transforming a culture within any organization is challenging. It starts with finding ways to help employees and association members understand what others are going through and help them to embrace differences. But people do not want to feel like they are being lectured to or blamed for misinterpreting cultural conventions. M3AAWG understood this and wanted to find a fun and non-confrontational way to introduce the topic and give people a safe space to have the discussions they want to have. Inclusion is about changing behavior – which is typically unconscious. Since empathy is key to changing behavior, M3AAWG reached out to a documentary team who had a story that shows what the lack of inclusion really feels like.
In February 2019, M3AAWG leadership invited the filmmakers of Pioneers in Skirts to join our meeting in San Francisco to deliver a keynote [JJ1] presentation sharing their experiences about why they made the film and what impact they hoped for. After the keynote, M3AAWG leadership sat down to have a one-on-one [JJ2] conversation with the filmmakers to talk about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the organization based on the film and how the Pioneers in Skirts [LM3] documentary is an excellent catalyst for starting the fruitful dialog needed when an organization wants to build a more inclusive culture.
The filmmakers were kind enough to give M3AAWG members a preview screening of the movie after the day’s meeting sessions were complete and the feedback from members was amazing. Change starts with creating empathy for what others are experiencing and the movie has a story that does just that.
The screening leaves viewers with an understanding they did not have before and a feeling of hope and a drive to do something to change the culture – to act. It might be the very personal step of catching your own bias or the much bigger step of admitting there is a systemic problem that requires a resolution. Either way, people left the screening realizing the enormous size of the problem. Achieving a diverse and inclusive workplace requires an investment we ALL have to make.
With the extremely positive response and feedback from our member community for the Pioneers in Skirts film, M3AAWG became an official supporter of the documentary and highly recommends other organizations in the industry view the trailer on their website and reach out to the filmmakers to understand more about their incredible journey. M3AAWG is committed to creating and maintaining a diverse and inclusive culture for our community. Please stay tuned to hear more about our journey!
By Janet Jones, M3AAWG Board of Directors Vice Chair; Diversity and Inclusion Chair; and Data and Identity Protection Committee Co-Chair