This article is based on a presentation given by Wesley at the virtual Developer Marketing Summit, 2024.

Embracing diversity is the cornerstone of community success.

I'm Wesley Faulkner, Senior Community Manager at AWS, and my extensive experience across various companies has given me a unique perspective into the critical role diversity plays in fostering vibrant and thriving communities. 

I've seen firsthand how inclusive practices can lead to profound improvements in community engagement and satisfaction. 

In this article, I'll delve into the strategies and practical steps essential for building and maintaining a diverse and inclusive community that not only meets but exceeds organizational goals.

Understanding diversity in community building

When you think of understanding diversity, I want you to take a moment and reflect on what diversity means to you. 

What do you feel is missing when it comes to diversity? What do you think needs to be added to your community? When you look around the room, what do you hope to accomplish by embracing diversity?

Here's a list of things to consider when you're thinking about adding or considering diversity in any of your community programs:

  1. Gender diversity: This is probably one of the first aspects that come to mind. Ensuring a balance of genders in your community is crucial.
  2. Cultural diversity: This includes people from different backgrounds, both within and outside your country. Consider the multitude of cultures that exist, even within a single country, and how they can enrich your community.
  3. Social and economic diversity: Think about including individuals from various socioeconomic backgrounds. This includes people who may be less well-off as well as those who are extremely well-off. It's essential to consider the full spectrum of socioeconomic statuses.
  4. Generational diversity: Age is another critical factor. Is your community inclusive of people significantly older or younger than the majority? Are they part of your community plan?
  5. Neurodiversity: This is particularly close to my heart. Are people with different ways of thinking welcomed in your community? Are both neurodivergent and neurotypical individuals comfortable and included?
  6. Environmental diversity: Not everyone has access to high-speed internet, a car, a road, or postal services. These environmental factors are important when considering diversity.

Hopefully, this expands your understanding of diversity and makes you think differently about whom you are including.

You may have heard statements at diversity panels or groups emphasizing that diversity is not just a buzzword but a way of life. While these sentiments are important, they can sometimes become cliché and lose their impact. It's essential to keep these ideas fresh and integral to your community-building efforts.

How people, not platforms, define “community”
Just like the people in our communities who adapt and change with the world, we need to do the same thing for those people as well.

The power of diversity

Diversity is extremely powerful. If you're in the United States, you're probably familiar with the phrase "a government of the people, by the people, for the people." This is a diversity statement. It means that we ensure everyone is represented in how we run and govern things, reflecting the people we are here to serve. 

If that's not powerful enough to illustrate the importance of diversity, consider this simpler yet profound principle: "Nothing about us without us."

When managing or taking over a community, it's essential to ensure strong representation from the people within that community in decision-making processes. If you are in charge of a community, it is your responsibility to bring those voices into the room, to listen to them, and to react thoughtfully. 

This means honoring thoughts and requests from demographics you may not personally identify with, even if they don't immediately resonate with you.

Keeping an open mind is crucial. It's about understanding how to include those voices and perspectives, ensuring that every community member feels heard and valued. By doing so, you create a more inclusive, diverse, and ultimately successful community.