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Chef bangs the drum for greater diversity in DevOps teams

More diversity in DevOps teams could expand the total addressable market for the products and services they create, says Chef

As DevOps nears mainstream adoption within the enterprise, organisations should not overlook the importance of creating diverse and inclusive teams to oversee their continuous delivery efforts.

That’s according to Nicole Forsgren, director of organisational performance and analytics at infrastructure automation supplier Chef, who claims the percentage of women working within the DevOps space is around a mere 6%.

“Some of it is just a challenge of hiring in such a new field, and with so many people trying to hire anyone with any level of experience in DevOps, we end up reaching out to people we know are good, and so many people we know look like us,” she told Computer Weekly at the ChefConf summit in Austin, Texas. 

“Also, men tend to apply for jobs when they’re 40-60% qualified, and women will not unless they feel they are 90-100% qualified.”

The problems enterprises face when trying to recruit and retain experienced DevOps team members was touched on elsewhere at the show, where it was cited as a key limiting factor for the spread of agile software development initiatives within companies

As more enterprises move to join the DevOps bandwagon, and the number of job opportunities in the sector continues to grow, women should not be shy of putting themselves forward for positions, added Forsgren.

“DevOps is, thankfully, a culture of empathy, and learning to understand other people in the environment is a big part of that,” she said.

“And it’s really important to have different voices present because we are dealing with complex, socio-technical systems that are influenced by the people who build them and the people they work with.”

Diversity in DevOps

Diversity and inclusion were among the themes touched on during the second-day keynote presided over by Chef CTO Adam Jacob. He stressed the importance of cultivating a supportive environment within enterprises that want their DevOps initiatives to thrive.

By embracing inclusivity and increasing the diversity of people working in DevOps teams, the products and services they create are more likely to address the needs of a wider range of users, he said.

Forsgren backed up this point with anecdotal evidence from a range of other industries. For example, male-dominated manufacturing teams have created products that do not consider the needs of women.

Read more about DevOps

“There are several studies that show the greater diversity you have and the greater diversity at the executive level, the more profitable companies are,” she said.

“Greater diversity leads to greater organisational performance – from a profit, market share and customer retention perspective. And it is because they are creating products that are speaking to more customers because they have that greater input into diversity earlier on in that process.”

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Margartet Heffernan gave a fantastic TED Talk about the forgetting the pecking order at work. Her talk is very relevant to diversity and DevOps, and sheds some light on the importance of the social aspects of work in crafting high-performance teams. Here’s the link: http://www.ted.com/talks/margaret_heffernan_why_it_s_time_to_forget_the_pecking_order_at_work?language=en
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