Weeknote 9

Starting an important conversation about diversity and inclusion, getting back to writing and recovering from a bad bout of anxiety.

What went well

Talking diversity and inclusion

On Wednesday, Daisy, our data analyst, Rosie, our user researcher, and I ran a session to kick off a piece of work to improve the diversity and inclusivity of the GOV.UK Design System community.

Specifically, we’re thinking about:

  • our team
  • people who contribute to the Design System
  • the Design System working group
  • our discussion spaces like Slack and GitHub

We’re looking to create a more inclusive environment, built for a more diverse community with better representation from:

  • BAME colleagues
  • non-binary and trans colleagues
  • women
  • introverts
  • colleagues with disabilities
  • colleagues of all levels of seniority
  • colleagues of all ages
  • parents and carers
  • people from typically underrepresented disciplines, like content designers and product managers

This list isn’t exhaustive, and obviously we can't fix everything at once, but we wanted to start thinking about what barriers might exist within our community and how we can start to explore this area.

The session went really well, with everyone making a real effort to participate and share their views.

In the team and in general, inclusivity is the thing that matters most to me, so I’m really glad we’re starting to look at this. And not as an add on, but as part of our core work. Big thanks to our product manager Tim for making this a priority.

I’m writing again—hooray!

After several weeks of having a notes and ideas build-up, I’ve started actually working on a couple of articles that I’m really excited about.

Receiving some words of encouragement and reading some inspiring articles has given me the confidence and motivation I needed to put proverbial pen to paper and start formulating something other than an incoherent jumble of disparate thoughts on my phone.

I’m most excited about one in particular that’s been bouncing around in my head for some time, on inclusive communication. I’ve been thinking about the ways in which our communication can become exclusionary, and what to do about it.

My unrestrained draft currently stands at a mere 2,300 words and I’m only about two-thirds through. A ruthless edit is needed, but for now, I’m just enjoying that feeling of getting my thoughts out.

Feeling less anxious

After a rough few weeks, I’ve started to amp up my anti-anxiety practices and am finally feeling a little better.

Primarily, I’ve been journalling, making an effort (albeit modest) to be more active, meditating and cutting back on the caffeine.

I’m tentatively positive, which hasn’t been the case for a good month or so now, so I’m taking that as a big win. Onwards and upwards.

Other things I liked

  • Reading Jeremy Keith’s article, Split which is partly what gave me the impetus to finally write my article on inclusive communication. It was a real refreshing break from seeing constant shots fired on Twitter about technology choices. Thoughtful, analytical and clear enough for even a less technically-experienced practitioner to understand: more of these please, industry.
  • Andy Bell’s post, Break out of the echo chamber — this and the subsequent Twitter conversation we had are reason number 2 why I took the plunge and started writing about inclusive communication. It’s a great article. Read it.
  • Going to Charcoal Art Club— with Ignacia. A supper club in Mare Street’s beautiful Narroway Studio where, as well as enjoying delicious and seasonal cocktails, nibbles and dinner, we did life drawing. A welcome context switch, a lot of laughing and a moment to focus on something other than the stresses of life, it was food for the soul as much as the stomach!

What didn’t go so well

Discovering I'm even worse at competitive sports than I was as a teen

As part of my mission to be a little more active, my husband James and I played tennis this morning. It was my suggestion, on the basis that the last time I played, at the age of about 14, I was actually not totally shit at it (the bar is pretty low for me when it comes to sports).

However, it turns out that over the course of 16 years, your body and abilities change. What was once a promising opportunity for solid mediocrity is no more. In 2019, it turns out, I am very bad at tennis. And to make matters worse, so is James.

After reaching a record rally of 3 hits without dropping or losing the tennis ball, it’s safe to say we won’t be playing again.

Apart from that, honestly not much this week. It’s really been very OK.

Lessons this week

  1. Write more words.
  2. Don’t play tennis.