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Re: Diversity statement for the Debian Project

MJ Ray <mjr@phonecoop.coop> writes:

> Anyway, it's disappointing that only this point attracted any attention
> and the more urgent points either side (who will enforce it?

You don't enforce a diversity statement.  That's not the point.  It's an
aspirational statement of ideals, not a policy.  If it were enforced, it
would be a Code of Conduct, which is a different thing.

If we pass a diversity statement that we then obviously fail to live up
to, it makes the whole project look bad, so there's a sort of moral
enforcement there, but it's not the sort of individual enforcement that
requires some enforcing body.

> what happens if the GR fails?)

Then we don't have a diversity statement.

While personally I would be disappointed, since I think diversity
statements serve a useful purpose, I don't think this would be
particularly catastrophic.  Most of the people who have expressed
reservations about the statement are doing so on the grounds that they
feel this is already covered by existing project statements and that
making an additional statement is tricky to do in a way that doesn't make
some group uncomfortable and is not necessary.  While I personally don't
agree with that, I think that's a reasonable position and there's nothing
inherently wrong with it.

If the concern is that failing to pass a diversity statement would somehow
send a message that we don't care about diversity, I think that's
something that can be easily addressed by wording the negative option to
say something akin to what I summarized above.

Also, one other general point: having followed these sorts of discussions
lightly elsewhere, it seems to be fairly common for folks who are in the
majority (or, probably better stated, identify primarily with majorities,
as there are a lot of axes and we're probably all in one minority or
another) to not really see the point of a diversity statement.  The
organization already feels plenty diverse to them and the statement
doesn't really mean anything to them.  Personally, I want to try to
evaluate things like this on the basis of how they would feel to people
who *aren't* in as many majorities, since I think that's a primary
(although not the only) target audience.

Or, put another way, as a native-English-speaking neurotypical white guy
who writes code, I know Debian welcomes *me*, and I don't need any
statement to confirm that.  But that's not really the point; if a
diversity statement would make other people, particularly people who are
underrepresented, feel more welcome, then it's worth doing regardless of
whether it makes *me* feel anything new, unless it actually objectively
hurts something.  (And I think it's hard to see how it would really hurt
anything, although definitely hashing out the wording is worthwhile.)

Put even more succinctly, warm welcomes are about people who aren't yet
part of our community, not about people who are already here.  :)  And
part (although not all) of the point of a diversity statement is to be a
warm welcome.

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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