Heyo Ultimate Athletes and Coaches!
As we grow our blog and our community I want to pause to talk about what our commitment to equity looks and how we’re attempting to be proactive about issues of equity in our business.
There are two areas where I think we do a good job (visibility and recruiting), and one area (education) where we’re looking to improve. I hope that what I have learned thus far will be helpful to other organizations in ultimate who are struggling with their own gender equity challenges and that this article will encourage further discussion.
As far back as when I was finding and vetting authors for the Skyd Training Blog, I felt it was important to have equal representation of male and female voices. At Ulty Results we continue to provide equal time for men and women in everything we produce from our URCA Conference to our Skills Development Lab. For too long, in both the ultimate community and in other sports, there has been a disproportionate representation of male coaches as experts. And a lack of visibility for the female coaches and contributors in our community. This is just silly. I have never, in my six years of creating ultimate content online, found it difficult to find expert women to contribute.
I have learned that men are far more likely to volunteer their services than women. I have never had an unqualified woman offer to contribute content. I have not accepted contributions from every person who has volunteered. Most women and men have agreed to work with us after one conversation. Of those who need additional convincing, the majority have been women.
The fact that men volunteer their knowledge and skill more frequently than women likely accounts for most of the imbalance of visibility that we see in online ultimate content production. This self selection has zero correlation to the actual expertise of contributors. We have never taken “well, more men volunteer” as a valid excuse for not providing our audience with the best possible content and with the best representation of who we are as a community.
Contrary to the common narrative that it’s difficult to find women to write, contribute, coach, etc, I have found that getting women to contribute has been surprisingly easy. Which brings us to the second point, recruiting.
Gender equity begins with recruiting.
Let’s begin with the assumptions. If you assume that there are not many women who want to be authors or that there are not many women who are expert coaches, then you will not be surprised when you put out a call for volunteers that the respondents are mostly men.
If however, you begin with the assumption that there are many experts of all genders, you will be driven to change your process of your available talent pool looks one sided.
To overgeneralize: men will volunteer, women have to be asked.
We were reminded of the importance of the recruiting process as we recently filled a job opening. Our go-to process has been to create a post on UltiJobs and post into the r/ultimate reddit forum. We did not receive many female applicants. If I had assumed “well, women just don’t want to be content managers” then I would have been happy with the applicants I had. It was a very talented group with professional experience in content management.
But employers and organizations, ultimate or otherwise, who do not consider gender equity when recruiting are missing out on available talent. So instead, we extended the deadline, posted the application in the “Women in Club Ultimate” Facebook group and personally emailed a few influential women in the ultimate community asking them to pass on the application to anyone (man or woman) they thought might be qualified. We ended up with a pool of applicants that was both more gender-balanced and more competitive.
In the past six months I’ve heard - from in and out of the Ultimate community - assumptions about women that along the lines of:
We want more women to (fill in the blank) but there are not as many women who want to / will volunteer / know how to.
I call bullshit. Women code, do marketing, go into sales, become board members, commentate, write, coach, and absolutely want those positions. Whenever I hear “we want more women to do X but…” all I hear is laziness of thought or action.
If gender equity is important to your organization and you don’t have the representation you want, then go find the qualified women. Question your assumptions about how many women want to do X, Y, or Z. Question your assumptions about what a qualified applicant looks like (as historical biases and previous opportunity may affect a candidate’s level of experience). Qualified women exist. Start with that assumption and it will serve you well.
This is a newer area of effort for Ulty Results. It’s not enough to hire people with good intention and hope the the best. We don’t want to be the thought police in hiring decisions but what we can do is select people who are open to learning more about how race, gender, economic status, and nationality all play roles in a person’s experience of the ultimate community.
We are committed to this vision because as ultimate grows we want our community to maintain and improve upon the culture of inclusivity that has historically drawn many people into the game.
We know that we are not perfect and we will mess up. We claim it as our responsibility to educate ourselves on issues of gender, racial, and socio-economic equity and to continuously improve. We invite your criticism and appreciate any efforts you, as our audience, want to make to help hold us to a high standard.
I admit that we are more successful in promoting gender equity than in understanding and promoting equity in other areas. We are not yet fully engaged in discussions about intersectionality, and we are working on understanding what gender equity means outside of North America, Europe, and Australia. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we continue to work toward a more inclusive vision for Ulty Results. I hope you’ll be along with us for the ride.