Building Inclusive & Diverse Tech Hubs: Creating Inclusive Physical Spaces


MELINDA EPLER:
I’m Melinda Epler. WAYNE SUTTON: I’m Wayne Sutton. And we’re the founders
of Change Catalyst. We empower inclusive and
sustainable innovation globally. MELINDA EPLER: Welcome
to this series sponsored by Women Techmakers,
Google’s program that provides visibility,
community, and resources for women in technology. Together we’re helping tech
hubs to develop more inclusive cultures, programs, and spaces. WAYNE SUTTON: Spaces can
create a positive or negative experience for people
in your community. Without conscious and
intentional design, your space can be
welcoming or intimidating, or even threatening. If you manage a dedicated
space or if you’re using a space for your
community to meet, consider how inclusive the
environment is for everyone. MELINDA EPLER:
Accessibility– this is a big one that starts before
you even get to the front door. Some questions to
ask yourself include, is your location accessible
to public transit? The further away you
are from public transit, the harder you will have
to work to invite people with disabilities
to your programs. WAYNE SUTTON: Do you
have accessible entrances in restrooms and kitchens? Will someone who is
blind or in a wheelchair be able to access directional
signage in your facility? Do your events have accessible
signs, hours, and seating? MELINDA EPLER: And of course,
is your website accessible? We did an accessibility
audit for a client and found that the Register
button on their event site wasn’t accessible to
people who are blind. Make sure that people
of all backgrounds can access your site. WAYNE SUTTON: Decor– from
the paintings on the wall, furniture, carpet
colors, or wall color– how you design your
physical space matters. Seek input from your
hub diverse community, while creating an experience to
allow everyone to be themselves and productive. MELINDA EPLER: Make sure
to look at the design through the lens of gender,
race, ethnicity, religion, sexual preference, age, ability,
and socioeconomic status. And while many
restrooms traditionally have been male or
female, consider creating a gender-inclusive
or gender-neutral restroom. This allows transgender and
gender non-binary people to safely use the restrooms. WAYNE SUTTON: It also allows
people with disabilities to have a caretaker
of a different gender assist them in the restrooms. It takes a little
getting used to at first. But in a short amount of time,
it will become the new normal. And many will find
it a huge relief. Different religions require
different prayer times. Be sure to offer
people a safe space to practice their religion. MELINDA EPLER:
Additionally, many people thrive when they
meditate during the day. These spaces can be offered
for quiet meditation as well. Women who are breastfeeding
need a safe, quiet, clean, and private space to pump
breast milk several times a day. This should be as comfortable
as possible and absolutely not in the restroom. WAYNE SUTTON: This
room should have a lock, a microwave,
a refrigerator where moms can
store breast milk. Offer water. And have a comfortable
seat and an outlet. Ideally, it is
also near a source of both hot and cold water
for washing their hands, pump attachment, and milk
collection containers. MELINDA EPLER: There’s a
huge return on investment here, as you’ll reduce
turnover rates and absenteeism significantly and have happier,
more productive members of the community. WAYNE SUTTON: Providing
childcare opportunities to parents shows that you
value their family’s well-being and personal life. MELINDA EPLER: Studies
have shown repeatedly that childcare in the workplace
improves productivity, attracts and retains employees
or co-working teams, reduces absenteeism, and
provides overall happiness and relief for parents. WAYNE SUTTON: If you
can’t offer childcare, consider offering
childcare reimbursements. Often childcare centers
are far from tech hubs. If this is the case
in your community, consider becoming an advocate
for bringing childcare centers closer to your facility. MELINDA EPLER: As an
inclusive physical space, your code of conduct
is your law of the land that signals accountability
and that you value and care about the well-being
of your community. Display your code of
conduct in central areas accessible to everyone. WAYNE SUTTON: Provide
responsible ways for your community to report
any behavior that does not align with your code of conduct. MELINDA EPLER: Include your
legal team and inclusion community on the process of
creating disciplinary methods if anyone gets out of line. WAYNE SUTTON: Your code of
conduct is your enforcer and the face of
your organization values that you care about. To get started with
creating a code of conduct, visit the links below. MELINDA EPLER: If you offer
free food in your kitchen or at events or you have a
cafe or even vending machines, make sure you include food
that addresses community needs. That means offering vegetarian,
vegan, halal, kosher, and gluten-free foods. Additionally, survey your
community for ongoing dietary needs. WAYNE SUTTON: For
more information about Women Techmakers
and Change Catalyst, see the links below. MELINDA EPLER: And share this
series with your community. Let’s work together to
create inclusive tech hubs around the world.

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