Adam Olshansky: I’m Attending WITness Success To Learn How To Be A Better Ally

I’m a 14X Certified and 400+ Trailhead badged Salesforce Developer at YouTube who is passionate about Salesforce and helping people learn to code. I’m also a 4X RAD Women Coach, focusing on teaching Apex to the WIT Salesforce community.

One of the great things about technology is that it can be an equalizer. Anyone that has access to the technology can have the same opportunity to create something amazing with it. As a technologist, and a member of the Salesforce Ohana, I believe we’re all at our best when we all have the opportunity to contribute and help create something greater than anything we could create individually. It is for this reason that I am so passionate about the Women in Technology community. The notion that anyone should be held back from contributing equally or not having their contributions equally acknowledged or rewarded is in direct conflict with these principles. As a white male from an upper middle class family, I understand it’s imperative to use my privilege to help anyone in any industry who is not being treated fairly. While I unfortunately don’t have the resources to help everyone, I can choose to focus on an area that I believe I CAN make an impact, and that is the technology industry.

I attended WITness Success last year hoping to better understand some of the struggles faced by the WIT community but also identify more ways that I could contribute to the movement as an ally. It was heartbreaking to hear some of the experiences of the presenters and see the statistics on the lack of equal pay for equal work. It was also a unique experience for me to be the only member of my gender in a room, a sensation that I’m guessing everyone else in the room had felt on numerous occasions. There were also some conversations that I participated in where I couldn’t relate to many of the experiences had by the others, again a sensation that I’m guessing the other participants had felt on numerous occasions in the male dominated tech industry. I think these feelings were good to have though because while uncomfortable at times, it reinforced just how important it is to fight for a workplace where no one feels like they are left out. While we’ve all had different experiences, I think it’s also crucial to point out how many similarities I had with all my fellow attendees. Love of Salesforce and technology in general was prevalent throughout the conference as was a desire to help each other grow and be successful. While issues surrounding diversity and inclusion may at times be uncomfortable for some to talk about, I believe that you’re limiting your own potential if you’re not empowering those around you to succeed as well. I think the very appropriately named conference truly did help everyone who attended WITness Success!

It was extremely apparent at last year’s event with the Charlottesville marches showing up on the screen in between session breaks, and the recent memo from a member of my own company claiming that the gender wage gap is a myth and that women may not be biologically suited to having certain professions, that there is a lot of work to be done to help level the playing field. Unfortunately, we’re still facing those same issues one year later. This coming year, I plan to attend WITness Success again for several reasons. One is because I love taking every opportunity I can to spend time with my Salesforce Ohana. Another is that I’m constantly looking for new ways to make contributions to help ensure that everyone has the same opportunities in the tech community at large, and for that matter that everyone has the same opportunity to succeed in tech, regardless of their background. I’m fortunate to work for a company in Google whose values include Equality for all, but as evidenced by last year’s memo, there are still many who do not understand why it is so important. For now, I’m helping out where I see opportunities, such as ensuring that all events I speak at have female presenters and continuing to participate as a coach in RAD Women, where we just taught Apex to over 100 WIT members this past session! I also try to promote groups like Women Who Dev User Group and LadiesBeArchitects on Twitter to ensure that people know about them and because they have tremendous amounts of information that are useful to everyone regardless of gender!

I long for a day where we don’t have to debate people about why diversity and equality are so important. Until then, I’ll keep attending events like WITness Success to connect with amazing WIT members and other allies to help further the cause. Feel free to share any other ideas you have for allies to contribute and hope to WITness some more Success alongside you in Denver!

Feel free to connect with me on Twitter @adam17amo, my blog Adam To Architect, or LinkedIn and of course in person at upcoming Salesforce events.