Missing the Mark on Inclusivity: How Blockchain Projects Can Build More Diverse Developer Communities

The blockchain industry has grown rapidly, with exciting new projects and platforms launching constantly. However, if you take a look at many blockchain developer communities, you’ll notice something missing: diversity. The majority tend to be white, male and have advanced engineering or computer science degrees. While these developers are critical to blockchain’s success, relying too heavily on such homogenous talent risks creating blind spots. It can also alienate much-needed perspectives from women, people of color, and those with non-traditional tech backgrounds.

As blockchain seeks mainstream adoption, attracting a diverse pool of developers should be a top priority for any project. But so far, efforts to increase inclusivity have fallen short. Developer relations and advocacy teams in the blockchain space need to take concrete steps to bring more diversity to their communities. Here are some ideas that could help move the needle:

Bridge the Gender Gap

Women remain woefully underrepresented in blockchain, making up only about 5% of developers by some estimates. Actively recruiting women developers should be a key initiative. Sponsoring and promoting blockchain workshops at women-in-tech conferences and meetups is one approach. But also considering initiatives like grants specifically for women developers and contributors could incentivize participation. Promoting blockchain learning content tailored to women, such as Women Who Code’s blockchain tutorials, can also demonstrate a commitment to inclusion.

Look Beyond Elite Schools

The talent pools for many blockchain projects are saturated with developers from top universities like MIT, Stanford, and Ivy League schools. But casting a wider net and reaching out to lesser known colleges and coding schools could uncover overlooked, capable developers from all backgrounds. Sponsoring blockchain hackathons and challenges at schools beyond the usual suspects can help spread the word.

Embrace Remote and Asynchronous Work

Working on open source blockchain projects remotely and asynchronously on one’s own schedule can appeal to candidates turned off by the stereotypical corporate coding job. Developer relations teams should highlight these flexible arrangements in their outreach to underrepresented groups who may value such accommodations. Asynchronous communication channels like forums and chat can also prevent certain time zones and availability from being excluded.

Create Entry Points for Non-Developers

The perception persists that extensive coding skills are mandatory to contribute to blockchain. But projects should emphasize tasks like technical writing, design, marketing, and community management that are open to non-developers. Providing education on these roles along with the technology itself can create avenues for diverse participation beyond just coding.

Be Transparent About Inclusion

To demonstrate a genuine commitment to diversity, blockchain projects can share detailed data on the gender, racial, educational, and geographic makeup of their community. Tracking this data over time and setting concrete diversity goals to work towards provides accountability and gives underrepresented groups evidence that they are welcomed.

Promote Diverse Experts and Leaders

Having diverse faces prominently featured as experts, speakers and thought leaders for the project fosters a stronger sense of belonging among underrepresented groups. A diversity of perspectives and backgrounds role modeled at the top signals an inclusive environment from the get-go.

Partner With Minority Initiatives

Projects should develop partnerships with organizations that promote STEM education among women and people of color. Outreach to groups like Blacks in Technology, the National Society of Black Engineers, Latina Girls Code and AI4All can tap into skilled, diverse talent. Sponsoring hackathons and challenges hosted by these organizations directly engages their communities.

Decentralize With Care

The decentralized ethos of blockchain prides itself on open access. But completely decentralized, uncurated participation can become chaotic and even toxic, alienating marginalized groups. Maintaining some central community management is important to curb harmful behaviors that derail inclusion.

The lack of diversity in blockchain has been a known issue for years now. But making tangible progress will require deliberate strategies and commitment from projects. If the blockchain revolution is to be an inclusive one, the developer community powering it must reflect the diverse world it aims to transform. Following the suggestions outlined here would be a significant step towards realizing that vision.