Proposal: WordPress DEIB Committee – Establishing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging within the WordPress Community

In the spirit of the celebrations and fostering an ever-improving community, I want to address a conversation that recently arose within our ranks that resonates deeply with me, and I believe, with many of us.

The discussion centered around the announced speaker lineup for WordCamp Europe 2023, where community members pointed out a lack of diversity among the speakers selected​. This conversation highlights an ongoing challenge within our community, and underscores the need to focus on promoting Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIBDEIB DEIB stands for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging.) more actively and consistently.

In the recent years, WordPress has taken steps to address DEIB issues. Initiatives such as the Diversity Speaker Training Group, the “Five for the Future” initiative, and the recently launched Contributor Mentorship Program have been instrumental in promoting diversity and inclusion. These initiatives are commendable, but there’s more work to be done, particularly in ensuring equality and mentoring for leadership roles.

Recognizing Global Differences and Cultures

Diversity is a global concept that manifests in different ways across continents and cultures. What we consider diverse in one part of the world may look different in another. While striving for diversity, it is crucial to acknowledge and respect these differences. This is especially relevant in a global community like WordPress, with contributors and users from every corner of the world.

Consider the speaker line-ups for WordCamps. A diverse line-up in Europe may look different from a diverse line-up in Africa, Asia, Australia, North America, or South America. This difference is influenced by numerous factors, including the region’s demographic makeup, cultural context, and societal norms. By recognizing this, we can ensure that our diversity efforts are not homogenized but rather representative of the diverse global community that WordPress has fostered.

It’s not enough to merely aim for statistical diversity; we need to ensure diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) within the global WordPress community. This means creating spaces where every individual feels valued and heard, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, language, culture, national origin, religious beliefs, age, (dis)ability status, or professional background.

Embracing Flexibility: The Need for DEIB Guidelines and a Dedicated Committee

Guidelines already exist within the WordPress community, but they are often buried within the handbooks and can be challenging to access when needed. This is where enhanced visibility and accessibility of guidelines come into play. While it’s impossible to create a one-size-fits-all solution, having a set of accessible and well-structured DEIB guidelines can guide WordCamps and other WordPress events towards more inclusive decisions.

These guidelines should be flexible enough to accommodate the unique diversity of different regions and cultures, while also upholding the fundamental principles of DEIB. Moreover, they should be readily available, perhaps on a dedicated site, which not only documents all relevant DEIB guidelines but also provides access to a DEIB mentors database. This database could be filtered or sorted by region or other relevant properties to help users find the most suitable mentor or guidance for their specific needs.

This leads me to propose the establishment of a DEIB Committee within the WordPress community. Such a committee would serve as both a guide and guard for WordCamp and Meetup organizers, team representatives, leadership roles, and indeed, for all of us in the community.

Disclaimer: A Call to Level Up, Not Belittle

Before we delve into the proposal, I want to make it clear that the intention of this blog post is not to belittle or disregard the work that has been done so far within the WordPress community. The initiatives already in place, such as the “Five for the Future” initiative, the recent Contributor Mentorship Program and the working groups and training, and other current diversity efforts, are commendable steps towards fostering a diverse, inclusive, and balanced community.

However, there is always room for growth and improvement. Just like the ‘About’ section on emphasizes the community’s commitment to the Four Freedoms of open source, it’s equally important that we, as a community, take a visible stand for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB).

The goal here is to level up our efforts, to make DEIB initiatives more visible, accessible, and impactful, and to ensure we are taking full responsibility for fostering DEIB within our global WordPress community.

Here’s a four-step plan idea on how we could establish this committee:

1. Define the Objective and Scope

The primary objective of the DEIB Committee would be to ensure that all community members feel valued, respected, and empowered to contribute. The committee would work towards:

  • Enhancing diversity representation.
  • Promoting DEIB training and awareness initiatives.
  • Implementing inclusive outreach strategies.
  • Advocating for accessibility on a broader scale.
  • Supporting language accessibility and global community development.
  • Encouraging mental health awareness.

2. Determine the Composition

The DEIB Committee should be composed of a diverse group of individuals from various backgrounds, roles, and regions within our community. This will ensure that the committee represents a range of perspectives and experiences, and is able to effectively champion DEIB initiatives.

3. Establish Roles and Responsibilities

The DEIB Committee will be responsible for:

  • Developing a DEIB strategy.
  • Reviewing and recommending improvements to existing policies and practices.
  • Organizing DEIB-focused events and training sessions.
  • Collaborating with other community groups and teams.
  • Serving as a resource for community members regarding DEIB issues.

4. Implement an Action Plan

The establishment of the DEIB Committee will involve:

  • Submitting a detailed proposal.
  • Seeking community feedback.
  • Gaining approval.
  • Calling for volunteers.
  • Selecting committee members.
  • Holding a kickoff meeting.

As we continue to grow and evolve as a community, it is important that we ensure our commitment to DEIB is not just words, but is reflected in our actions and structures. The establishment of a DEIB Committee is one step in this direction.

In conclusion, let’s ensure that our diversity efforts are as diverse as the community we aim to represent. Let’s celebrate our global differences, learn from one another, and strive for a WordPress community where everyone, from every part of the world, feels welcome and included.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts, feedback, and suggestions on this proposal. Together, we can work towards a more inclusive and diverse WordPress community.

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