Re: [Gendispatch] Diversity and Inclusiveness in the IETF

Fernando Gont <fgont@si6networks.com> Wed, 24 February 2021 02:06 UTC

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To: Jay Daley <jay@ietf.org>
Cc: GENDISPATCH List <gendispatch@ietf.org>, Keith Moore <moore@network-heretics.com>
References: <37eecb9b-f0eb-e21c-b162-b1f0339e4981@si6networks.com> <FBB6C7ED-2173-4409-8294-480FF53B51FA@ietf.org>
From: Fernando Gont <fgont@si6networks.com>
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Date: Tue, 23 Feb 2021 23:06:15 -0300
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Subject: Re: [Gendispatch] Diversity and Inclusiveness in the IETF
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Hello, Jay,

Thanks so much for your comments! In-line....

On 23/2/21 17:16, Jay Daley wrote:
> Thanks for attempting a comprehensive overview.
> 
> Some things jumped out at me:
> 
> 1.  At times the draft appears to conflate issues of
> 'diversity/inclusion’ with issues of ‘participation’ in general.  In
> case the difference is not clear - an issue with participation only
> becomes an issue with diversity/inclusion when one specific group of
> people is disproportionately affected.

The two are indeed related: the more "expensive" (in multiple axes) it 
is to participate, the more the system benefits those with more resources.

e.g., if you need four full working-days to effectively participate in 
the IETF, you'll only be able to participate if somehow you can make a 
living out of participation.



> Specific examples of where it does that are sections 7 (Processes),

The more something is loosely specified, the more discretionary actions 
are possible, (as noted, in *some* cases might indeed beneficial).

That means that a newcomer is at the will of such discretionary actions.

And since the process is biased in favor of a sub-set of individuals and 
organizations, and that same group generally runs the process, then 
discretionary actions would not be unlikely to reflect the interests of 
said group.

THere is the saying that "the law is there to protect the weaker, 
because the strong probably don't need protection".



> 8 (Difficulties in joining the
> IETF), 11.2 (Using email effectively) and 11.3 (Comfort zone), all of
> which are general issues with participation.

They are general issues which do not affect all people the same.

For example, a rude environment can be seen as "a general issue with 
participation". However, a rude environment will not affect all 
participants in the same way. Some will walk away, others will 
nevertheless stay.



> 2.  At times the draft also appears to conflate issues of
> 'diversity/inclusion' with issues of 'conflict of interest', where
> that conflict of interest comes from multiple people having the same
> employer.  For example:
> 
> - From section 6
> 
> Process fairness by having a very small number of interests judging
> WG consensus, community consensus, and appeals.
> 
> Leadership selection fairness by having a limited number of interests
> participating in the NOMCOM and IAB.

And the two are indeed related. When conflicts of interest 
systematically affect an organization, there's a whole range of peo 
people that will walk away.

e.g., if contributions are treated/processed differently depending on 
the affiliation of the author, that certainly results in diversity and 
inclusivity issues.

One way or another, if the same company funds people that submits 
proposals, and also fund the people that judge such proposals, there is 
going to be an obvious conflict of interest.

Diversity in IETF roles, nomcom, etc., would mean that such conflicts of 
interest can be reduced to a minimum.

Thanks,
-- 
Fernando Gont
SI6 Networks
e-mail: fgont@si6networks.com
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