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Liz Fong-Jones
13,799 followers -
missing her trusty daemon Misty. :(
missing her trusty daemon Misty. :(

13,799 followers
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My first paid piece of writing was published on Medium today! I'm super proud to now be a semi-professional writer!

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sed 's/Customer Reliability Engineer/SRE Developer Advocate/' lizf

I'm leaving the Site Reliability Engineering organization at Google after eight team assignments and ten and a half years.

However, I'm not going very far; I'll be joining +Mandy Waite's team of Developer Advocates working on Infrastructure and Operations. My specific mandate is to help the SRE community outside Google thrive, ensure SRE use cases are well supported on GCP, and connect SREs at Google and SREs in the broader community with each other.

I'll be continuing in my new role a good deal of the advocacy, outreach, and public speaking work I've been doing over the past year as part of the Customer Reliability Engineering team at Google. I'll just be more officially recognized for the work and better supported in doing it!

And I have a detailed speaker portfolio at https://www.lizthegrey.com since I finally got tired of answering "so, what talks can you give?" (p.s. if you haven't checked out +Seth Vargo and my video series on SRE and DevOps, you should! https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLIivdWyY5sqJrKl7D2u-gmis8h9K66qoj)

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Rest in peace, Misty.

She was my loyal and dutiful partner for 9 years and 3 months. I'll always miss her. We helped each other through anxiety and cPTSD, and epilepsy and arthritis.

She was happy to be with me to the end, and made it to the park one last time yesterday. 😭😭😭

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I have many feelings about recent events.

I am proud of folks whom I worked with, present, and past, who have stepped up to document and put their concerns on the record.

I am dismayed that it's come to this. I am dismayed that Google has tried appeasement tactics by disciplining people "on both sides". There are no two sides of this.

Google must ensure a safe working environment. And Google cannot tout its EDII (equity, diversity, inclusion, and integrity) efforts while punishing employees who support them.

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Here are a few pictures I thought people might enjoy of food I've made recently. There's also a pun-filled thread about leeks over at https://twitter.com/lizthegrey/status/949072905593393153 that lies behind the first soup :)
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1/28/18
6 Photos - View album

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Today was my tenth Googleversary. I put together a letter to thank my colleagues who have been so amazing...

only to receive a thank you letter from almost everyone I've worked with over the past 10 years in return, that my spouse and manager had been conspiring to make happen.

It was a magical day.

P.S. +Lauren Weinstein, it's been a pleasure having you briefly as part of Google, and having you be part of the Plus community :) -- as well as everyone else I met here through the nymwars. Cheers.

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Today, Wired posted an article quoting several current and former Googlers who talked about growing safety concerns within Google’s culture. We’ve seen increasing harassment of our coworkers and silencing of pro-inclusion opinions, caused both by actions of Alphabet HR/leadership and intimidation in our workplace from our colleagues. We demand to see these issues resolved. We think that this process of organizing and speaking up (with the help of Coworker.org) is an important and necessary step to improve our working conditions.

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Misty is feeling very energetic today.

The Myth of Psychological Safety

Grading teams purely on self-reported psych safety falsely lets managers with homogeneous teams look like they're doing well, because every single one of their reports says they are feeling safe and isn't having to deal with microaggressions, etc.

The challenge with measuring "safety" is that teams that are in flux -- where managers are trying to diversify the range of experiences and backgrounds on the team -- look worse on safety in the short term. Ideal teams are heterogeneous and have worked out their safety issues. But the road to there is not monotonic up-and-to-right. While majority folks have to confront working with people different than themselves, minorities experience & report microaggressions.

Grading down teams for going through change and having those difficult conversations just encourages managers to become risk-averse. Silicon Valley likes to talk about unconscious bias as a panacea, refuses to set quotas or anything remotely like writing down and committing to diversity goals. Nobody actually makes the managers with homogeneous teams change, and they score fine on the psych safety measures used as a yardstick.

Here's a concrete set of examples:

Imagine you're a line manager that ignores diversity.

You have a team of 10 people, all white men. 10% turnover a year in your fulltimers. If you don't drive off minority candidates just by homogeneous composition or indifference to diversity, and hire the "default" way... you have a ~20% chance/year of ever getting one minority onto team. And sure, one might report being not fully comfortable, but 9/10 say they are! [nb: that's a pretty big if. Most other minorities I know won't touch an all-white-male team with a manager indifferent to or hostile to diversity with a 10 foot pole].

If your management is paying attention to that one signal point of how the one minority is doing rather than writing it off as one random unhappy "low performing" person [nb: a pretty big if], it will take ~5y in expectation for your management to find a problem. If not [more likely], the one minority leaves the team within 1-2y, and you go back to 100% psychologically safe!


Let's say you try to actively cultivate diversity and inclusion.

For instance, you use the Rooney rule, you intentionally batch up minorities so that they're never the only one on team, and you actively make majority people confront things they may be doing to make minorities feel less welcome. How does that look?

You have minorities (more than one!) who might report they feel not entirely safe, but more safe than without intervention, but you've made majority "unsafe" too. If you're used to privilege, equality feels like oppression. So your team might have 6/10 reporting unsafe or marginally safe. You might get punished for it in the short term, before you can bring the situation fully under control and to the good end state.


And that's why Silicon Valley isn't changing fast enough. There are anti-incentives to improving diversity on team and confronting -isms. We don't manage for the long term health of teams or pay attention to small N values [and proactively test the system more often than once per 5 years]. We don't hold managers accountable for diversity, only "safety" of teams, because "safety" of teams is an easy buzzword to say that doesn't sound like a quota or numerical target, appears to be value-neutral, and is easy to measure.

p.s. I'm nervous about posting this precisely because confronting sexism and racism makes people feel uncomfortable.

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Homemade vegan banana bread is super tasty! Recipe adapted from http://ohsheglows.com/2016/10/07/vegan-banana-bread/
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