Maria Keenan

Creating an Inclusive Tech Scene | 5 Questions with Kim Crayton

Kim Crayton is a personal inspiration of mine.

She enables businesses to strategise towards growth by embracing inclusion in a meaningful manner that avoids pandering or buzzwords. Instead, she #causesascene, but more on that later.

Kim defines herself as the CEO (that is, Chief Encouragement Officer) for the marginalised in tech. Her work includes hosting events under the #causeascene banner, business consulting, and, most recently, joining us to speak at Admission.

I asked her a few questions to get a better understanding of why she does what she does, and what lies in the future for creating a more inclusive tech space:

1) #causeascene is the strategic disruption of the status quo in tech organizations, communities, & events. Why, in your own words, is that necessary?

"Although change is inevitable, humans often go to great lengths to avoid it. So when it comes to creating products and services for a global marketplace that aren’t exclusive or cause harm, that requires both intention and strategy.

"#causeascene is focused on tackling these complex and uncomfortable issues in ways that forces the status quo to shift towards inclusion and diversity. Bottom line: a lack of inclusion is a risk management issue that technology leaders are failing in their efforts to minimize."

inclusive tech scene

Courtesy of hashtagcauseascene.com

She writes regularly about both problems and solutions in the tech diversity space on her Medium account if you're interested in more detail about her proposals and observations. 

2) Between your events and the merchandise available on your site, you have a clear message for your mission. How have live events and branding helped your cause to-date?

In 2018, I spoke at 19 technology conferences, which resulted in five keynotes.

This experience showed me that marginalized individuals taking the stage helps them to bypass the usual challenges related to earning the respect of a community, and being seen as an expert.

"With this in mind, I’ve created live events where marginalized individuals in tech are able to share their stories. These are the stories that tech needs to hear in order to become an inclusive community which is able to create products and services that benefit our global community."

creating an inclusive tech scene

Courtesy of hashtagcauseascene.com

For some pointers on how to provide redress at developer conferences and beyond, should any discrimination afflict your event, I recommend the robust code of conduct that the #causeascene events utilise. Here is a slide that is unique to Kim's conferences: 

Screenshot 2018-09-19 10.23.56

3) How are you balancing your doctorate studies and research with your activism?

"I’m no longer pursuing my doctorate for a number of reasons. One, I never started this process for the degree, I wanted to learn how to build successful businesses. Two, my business is growing and this is where I want to focus my attention, resources, and energy. Three, the more I learned about privilege and racism and the role they play in requiring marginalized individuals to continue to prove ourselves no matter the level of education or experience, I decided that I was done trying to prove myself."

4) What step do you think event organizers most commonly miss when trying to be more inclusive or when trying to create more diverse experiences for their attendees?

"The most common mistakes usually start the very day a group of individuals decide to create an heterogeneous event with a homogeneous organizing team.

Without diversity of perspectives at the very start, at best it becomes challenging and at worse impossible, for inclusion to become a reality.

tech conference scene

Courtesy of hashtagcauseascene.com

To speak to this point a bit more, there are numerous online communities, resources, blog posts, and frustration that the people hiring speakers can find in the flick of a cursor, so there really is no excuse. One for anyone who needs to get started can be found here, by Code Like a Girl.

5) What's the next step for #causeascene?

"Now that I have the processes for both #causeascene Conferences & Podcast, I’ll spend the rest of the year writing my book “Not Asking Permission! Giving Notice!”, launching the Alliance and planning to hold a Tech Inclusion Leadership Summit."

(Note: All the slogan t-shirts showcased here are available at the #causeascene website.)

For details of what Kim'll be presenting at Admission, our conference for organizers, you can check our website:

Admission, a conference by Tito