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Diversity is a crucial component of meritocracy

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Red Hat

The culture and environment in an open source community makes a big difference, and the same is true for company cultures. A lot has been written about this issue elsewhere, and you can find some great examples of how this happens on the Geek Feminism Wiki FLOSS webpage. In open source communities and at Red Hat, there's a strong desire for meritocracy—letting the best ideas win, regardless of their source. But diversity is a crucial component of meritocracy. How can we be confident that we have access to the very best ideas, if we are missing the perspectives of distinct groups of the population? Including people from many different backgrounds and cultures leads to greater diversity of thought and ideas. Research indicates that diverse groups are more innovative and make better decisions. For the technology industry and for open source communities, the lack of women is particularly concerning, because women represent half of the global population and workforce. In the past few years, I've also become increasingly interested in the role of unconscious bias and how it impacts the job application and interview process. Our human tendency is to instinctively prefer and value people who send unconscious signals that they're one of us—that they share our beliefs, background, or other social interests. It's easy for us to overlook the contributions of someone who comes from a different gender or culture. We don't even realize that we're doing it, and we construct explanations for our preferences that seem rational. Unconscious bias a fascinating topic, and plenty has been written about it, so I encourage everyone to seek out that information and put it to good use. It's something that Red Hat now educates our associates on, as part of our job interviewer training. I think it's equally relevant when it comes to cultural norms within open source communities.

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