This article is several years old now, and much has happened in Umbraco land since then, so please keep that in mind while reading it.
Despite the fact that studies (and the news) show that the lack of cohesion between races, sexes and cultures is due to distrust, stereotyping, a lack of understanding, and language barriers, diversity is generally viewed as a good thing in today's society. It gives people a chance to experience different things than they are typically accustomed to.
At this point, you're probably wondering what all this has to do with Umbraco, as Umbraco is the point of all these articles on 24 Days. It has to do with the importance of diverse involvement within the community and what we can bring to each other. We at Skrift talked about community quite a bit when we launched with Kyle's initial letter from the editor and Janae's follow up, but with nine issues under our belt now, we are seeing how the statistics are shaping up, and I find that I have more to say on the matter.
Why diversity matters
Decades of research by economists, social scientists, organizational scientists, demographers, psychologists, etc have shown socially diverse groups are more innovative that homogenous groups - that is, groups with a diversity of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation (such as Scott Page's 2007 publication The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies). If you look at the global Umbraco community, we fit into the socially diverse definition (yay!). That being said, research has also shown that social diversity in a group can cause discomfort, rougher interactions, a lack of trust, greater perceived interpersonal conflict, lower communication, less cohesion, more concern about disrespect, and other problems (boo). So what is the upside?
We are passionate about Umbraco and what we do, and that ties us together, giving us a more unusual common ground to build from.
How it affects us
Diversity enhances creativity. Full stop. It's not just wishful thinking; it's supported by the research. Being exposed to diversity can change the way we think and lead to better problem solving by encouraging us to search for novel information and perspectives. If you put two developers with culturally different backgrounds in a room, their perspectives are likely to be as different as a developer and a writer, and that's a good thing.
Diversity provokes thought. People in homogenous groups tend to either be like-minded, or do not put much weight on dissenting ideas. However, when presented with a dissenting idea from someone who is different than us, we are more likely to stop and think about it, than if that same idea is presented by someone who is like us. And when that disagreement comes from someone who is socially different, we work harder. It jolts us into cognitive action in a way that homogeneity does not.
So what does diversity mean for your bottom line?
More innovative solutions, which leads to better performance, more profitability, and more job satisfaction, not to mention the social benefit of breaking down stereotypes, fostering cultural understanding, creating lifetime friendships, personal happiness, and a chance for a more peaceful world. Who wouldn't want all that?
I don't think anything I've said here is novel or earth shattering, and you've probably seen a thousand like-articles around the web. But I think ultimately we can be apathetic; we're in our comfort zones, and changing up our routine, or putting ourselves out there is hard. Really hard. I know because I make myself do it time and time again. It's like special torture growth opportunity. And while we may not collectively be able to achieve total world peace, by getting involved and connecting with each other we have this unique opportunity to better our own lives and careers, which ultimately impacts and benefits the community - both the Umbraco community and the global community at large.
Some stats from Skrift
One of our underlying goals at Skrift is to help foster more diversity in the community. We believe (hence this article) in the value of a diverse community and we want to provide yet one more platform, one more way for people to get involved and participate, sharing their opinions, their findings, their perspectives, and their knowledge with the community at large. With that in mind, we'd like to share some of our stats with you for perspective. (Stat range is April 2015 to 09 December 2015. Click on images for full size and easier reading.)
While we're in our infancy and still growing, these stats represent a wide variety of ethnicities, languages, and backgrounds of our readers (and theoretically Umbraco developers/users, if we can extrapolate from that), and that's so exciting to see. But to take it one step further and maximize the benefits gained from diversity, we would love to have a map just like the one above that represents our authors.
Writing not your thing? No problem, here's a host of ideas for ways to collaborate with each other:
Ways to get involved
- Share your experiences by writing for Skrift Magazine or encourage someone you know to
- Join the Umbraco community Slack Channel and have a chat, solve some problems, get to know each other
- Share some reusable code by contributing a package
- Help answer (or ask) questions in the forum
- Track or help squash bugs
- Write documentation so others can learn as well
- Hold or attend a local Umbraco Meetup (then write about it and send it to Skrift!)
- Attend an Umbraco Festival (upcoming: uWestFest & CodeGarden 2016)
- Get a Twitter account and tune in to the Umbraco movers and shakers (more about this in Kevin's article: Surviving in the Wild as an Umbraco Lone Wolf)
- Mark it on your 2016 calendar to write for 24 Days in Umbraco!
That first step can be hard and intimidating, but it's oh so worth it. I took it, will you?
Erica is on Twitter as @reddesigns
Skrift is on Twitter as @skrift_io