Re: Diversity of candidates was Re: NomCom 2020 Announcement of Selections

Benjamin Kaduk <> Tue, 26 January 2021 06:39 UTC

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Date: Mon, 25 Jan 2021 22:39:23 -0800
From: Benjamin Kaduk <>
To: Fernando Gont <>
Cc: Michael StJohns <>,
Subject: Re: Diversity of candidates was Re: NomCom 2020 Announcement of Selections
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Hi Fernando,

On Mon, Jan 25, 2021 at 09:24:05PM -0300, Fernando Gont wrote:
> Hi, Michael,
> On 25/1/21 16:06, Michael StJohns wrote:
> > On 1/24/2021 6:28 PM, Adrian Farrel wrote:
> >> Can I just top-post to throw into the mix that one of the candidate
> >> questionnaire questions is (quite reasonably) to you have support from 
> >> your
> >> employer (financial and time) to fill this role. Answering this 
> >> question, of
> >> course, means going to your employer and getting that support (or for
> >> independents finding a sponsor). This represents a certain investment 
> >> in of
> >> reputation, may be a lot of work, and can be treated differently by
> >> employers when a candidate is not selected.
> > 
> > One of the main drivers of our "diversity" problem is the input set of 
> > people from which we draw our candidates - it lacks diversity on a 
> > number of axes.  We've noted this before - that GIGO  or rather 
> > Conformity In is Conformity Out.
> > 
> > I wanted to pull out this paragraph from Adrian's note and use it to 
> > make a suggestion:   Let's have the last 5 or so Nomcom chairs plus 
> > Andrew drag in the appropriate people from some of the larger companies 
> > and ask them to help us with our candidate diversity problem. 
> Wouldn't "drag in the appropriate people from some of the larger 
> companies" actually be the wrong first step?

I think that "the appropriate people" was meant to refer to the managers
that approve travel+time to attend/contribute to the IETF, not the people
actually doing the contributing.  So the conversation might go something
like "hi, we see you send a lot of smart people to the IETF; thank you!
However, the IETF is looking at its diversity numbers, and it seems that
the distribution of people you send to the IETF is different from your
overall distribution of staff.  Can you think of ways to make the
distribution of people you send to IETF more closely match your overall
staff distribtion, so that the IETF in turn can more closely match the
overall population?"

> Those larger companies usually have the means for financial support, 
> operating in a specific set of countries, and have a specific level of 
> influence in the IETF. (many of these things are probably quite related 
> with the diversity problem).
> In that light, why not poll:
> * folks from such large companies
> * folks from universities
> * independent consultants.
> And for all of the above items, have folks from each of the different 
> regions and, to the extent that's possible, from multiple genders.

Which is, of course, not to say that these proposals are bad, just that I
don't think they relate to the intended proposal.


> (Still not perfect, but certainly a more diverse sample to tackle the 
> problem of diversity -- otherwise it might result in micro-diversity)
> > It may also make sense to see if they'd be interested in providing 
> > funding for candidates not from those larger companies (e.g. smaller 
> > sole consultancies, academia, non-profit research institutes) that may 
> > not be able to find internal support for the large time commitments the 
> > ADs especially have to make.    In academic terms - an endowed chair. 
> > I'm not looking for them to fund their competitors obviously, but there 
> > may be some benefit in providing support for someone nominally 
> > independent of their company.
> Wouldn't the Internet Society be an obvious fit for this one?
> Thanks!
> Regards,
> -- 
> Fernando Gont
> SI6 Networks
> e-mail:
> PGP Fingerprint: 6666 31C6 D484 63B2 8FB1 E3C4 AE25 0D55 1D4E 7492