Heapcon 2019 Main Theme
Self-organized network of people with common agenda, cause, or interest, who collaborate by sharing ideas, information, and other resources.
Looking at the above definition of community, the keywords appear to be network, common agenda, and collaboration.
And although these factors do indeed accurately describe communities, there’s more to be told about the notion of uniting around a common goal. It might seem counterintuitive, but the fact is - communities often consist of diverse individuals coming together, with each member bringing something of value to the table.
If you view technology as a catalyst for social change, embracing these differences is at the heart of the tech community’s efforts.
This multitude of backgrounds is actually vital for the community, which thrives on different perspectives, the clashing of ideas, constructive debate and challenging the status quo.
At Heapcon, we believe that by harnessing the strength of our diversity, our community is at its strongest.
Different cultures, same puzzle
First of all, being a regional tech conference, Heapcon brings together people from all corners of the Balkans, often thought of as a sort of melting pot.
Our slice of Europe has long been the intersection of multiple cultures and traditions. Growing up in a setting like this, people have the advantage of getting up close and personal with cultural diversity, which in turn contributes to their shaping as individuals.
Embracing these cultural differences encourages various perspectives, something that directly increases the chances of coming up with fresh and inspiring ideas, as well as improves our communication skills.
So, instead of seeking people with the same background as you in the hopes of easier communication, open up yourself for diversity and observe how this shift in mindset will bring about exciting new opportunities.
The glass ceiling that feels more like steel
When touching on the subject of diversity in the tech community, most people think about gender equality, or the lack thereof.
It might seem that being a hot topic, equal representation of the genders has improved within the tech industry in recent years. However, various studies and reports have shown us change has been slow.
And while one would also think that the problem of gender inequality plagues mostly large companies like Google, a report from the Silicon Valley Bank published earlier this year found that startups are struggling in this respect as well. Only 56% of startups in the US have at least one woman in an executive position, while only 40% have at least one woman on the board of directors.
As global tech giants and startups alike attempt to mitigate the consequences of policies that excluded women from the tech industry, at the local level, these conversations have been heating up as well. And with good reason.
It is our belief that fostering gender diversity, as well as racial and sexual differences, can only give a company or community the upper hand in the game. As with other examples noted in this blog, including a variety of people benefits everyone involved.
There is more than one solution to a problem
Most of us have probably encountered a lack of diversity in thinking and approaching problems during our careers. These “right” and “wrong” ways of doing things become ingrained in our minds through the educational system, which often fails to nurture diverse opinions.
For example, just as there is a myriad of ways of looking at and interpreting a work of art, there are different ways of writing code. Unfortunately, thinking outside the box is seldom encouraged at many companies, primarily out of the need to keep things as simple and uniform as possible.
The problem is that this kind of approach ignores the intricacies of the work at hand. Moreover, it sidesteps the fact that there is always more than one solution to a task.
We feel that developing a creative mindset will only enhance your work. The freedom of tackling a complex issue in a different way is what ultimately leads to new and creative solutions, sometimes better than the original.
Diversity is always a strength
Diversity may sound like a buzzword, a sign of the (politically correct) times, an irrelevant notion.
A diversity of experiences and perspectives challenges complacency and paves the way for innovative, creative and exciting ideas. Breakthroughs are the product of collaboration, and the best kind of collaboration emerges in an environment of diversity.
It might sound like a cliché, but hey, sometimes clichés can be as good as gold.
Embrace these differences and open up a whole world of opportunity for yourself and your community. At Heapcon and everywhere else, please.