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

Andrew Sullivan <> Mon, 25 January 2021 20:47 UTC

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Date: Mon, 25 Jan 2021 15:46:51 -0500
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From: Andrew Sullivan <>
Subject: Re: Diversity of candidates was Re: NomCom 2020 Announcement of Selections
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I think I'm the "Andrew" mentioned here, so I'm responding.  ObDisclaimer: I work for the Internet Society, and I'm responding with that hat on, but this does not represent an Internet Society position (i.e. I haven't consulted with the Board about this).  I'm writing from my personal address out of convenience.

On Mon, Jan 25, 2021 at 02:06:53PM -0500, Michael StJohns wrote:

>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.  E.g. a substantial portion of the folk that end up as ADs or 
>IAB or other leadership are funded as part of their employment with 
>those companies.   It might actually be a useful exercise to look at 
>the input representations we're getting from those companies and see 
>if perhaps they can work internally to help broaden the diversity of 
>the set of people they send to the IETF.

Is the idea that we talk to companies that are working in the IETF and ask them about their employee diversity?  I confess that I am sceptical about the degree to which such an approach would be received positively.  For whatever it's worth, I have observed for some time that one path to broader diversity within the IETF is a culture that is somewhat less confrontational (not to say occasionally rude and nasty).  It also seems to me that a set of tools that encourage more people to contribute could help.  For people under a certain age, for instance, mailing lists are primarily a relic of another age.  The idea that the IETF is so special that it needs a completely bespoke set of tools that interoperate with nothing else is also more than a little hostile to newcomers.  These strike me as things the community could work on without going to those who subsidize free IETF labour and suggesting that maybe their employee pool isn't diverse enough.

>the ADs especially have to make.    In academic terms - an endowed 

I think it is up to the community as to whether it wants to pay its ADs; I suspect such a move would be controversial, but I will express no opinion as to whether it's a good idea.  I think, however, that the IETF would possibly have the resources to undertake that if it is successful in its fundraising: the Internet Society has agreed to match funds up to a ceiling (see the announcement from last year), so the IETF would appear to have this option without the Internet Society undertaking such fundraising on behalf of the IETF.  I believe also that, in light of the control of the IETF endowment, it would be at least confusing if the Internet Society undertook such fundraising now.

Best regards,


Andrew Sullivan