Christian Heilmann

Diversifight – a talk at the diversity hackathon at Spotify Sweden

Yesterday afternoon I presented at the “Diversify” hackathon in the offices of Spotify in Stockholm, Sweden. The event was aimed at increasing diversity in IT by inviting a group of students that represented a good mix of gender and ethnic background to work together on hacks with music and music data. There was no strict competitive aspect to this hackathon and no prizes or winners – it was all about working together and seeing how a mixed group can achieve better results.

Photos by Sofie Lindblom and Ejay Janis

When I was asked to speak at an event about diversity in IT, I was flattered but also confused. Being very white and male I don’t really have a chance to speak from a viewpoint of a group that brings diversity to the mix. But I do have a lot of experience and I looked into the matter quite a bit. Hence I put together a talk that covers a few things I see going wrong, a few ideas and tools we have to make things better by bettering ourselves and a reminder that the world of web development used to be much more diverse and we lost these opportunities. In essence, the break-neck speed of our market, the hype the press and events living on overselling the amazing world of startups and the work environments we put together seem to actively discouraging diversity. And that is what I wanted the students to consider and fight once they go out and start working in various companies.

Diversity is nothing we can install – it is something we need to fight for. And it makes no sense if only those belonging to disadvantaged groups do that.

This talk is pretty raw and unedited, and it is just a screencast. I would love to give a more polished version of it soon.

You can watch the the screencast on YouTube.

The slides are available on Slideshare.

Resources I covered in the talk:

The feedback was amazing, students really liked it and I am happy I managed to inspire a few people to think deeper about a very important topic.

A big thank you to the Spotify Street Team and especially Caroline Arkenson for having me over (and all the hedgehog photos in the emails).