Building a Diverse Decentralized City: Cabin Launches Its DEI Journey
Shadman Uddin
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Alison Burgess
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Speakease
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April 27th, 2022

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How It Began

When Cabin Community Guild facilitators Jackson Steger and Jon Dean Keiles sat down to craft a vision for Cabin’s community building in Season 2, they knew the DAO needed a formalized plan to improve its diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). A significant portion of Cabin’s contributors (as is the case for many in web3), come from either web2 tech companies or traditional finance firms, industries that have been historically white, wealthy, and male-dominated. As calls for greater diversification across web3 increased, Jackson and Jon Dean wanted to ensure that Cabin moved beyond that pattern. 

In an interview for this piece, Jon Dean explained why he believes Cabin is well-positioned to spearhead a DEI strategy, “Given Cabin’s mission to build a decentralized city, we want to create economic opportunities for everyone. Web3’s location independence allows anyone who has access to the Internet to be able to create economic value for themselves as they help build Cabin. And, considering how early it is in web3 and Cabin’s own formation, the systems are still so flexible and rapidly changing that prioritizing DEI can be really resonant.” 

Jackson and Jon Dean understood that the first step would be to find contributors to lead the process who came from more diverse and experienced backgrounds than themselves. So, they created a bounty to both invite new contributors and empower them to take the reins.

The Bounty goes live!
The Bounty goes live!

The bounty sat unclaimed for a couple of weeks until Jackson and Jon Dean decided to reach out to me, a former colleague of theirs. I had been building my expertise in DEI for the past two years, having co-founded a learning cohort focused on antiracist action called Humanizing Anti-Racism Practice (HARP) and completed a course from the USF Moma College of Business in Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion in the Workplace, so the bounty seemed like a natural fit. 

However, although I resonated with Cabin’s vision (and had been lurking for the month prior), I was hesitant to truly involve myself and contribute because I struggled to see how I fit into the community. I did not have technical skills in blockchain, nor did I know anyone in the community besides Jackson and Jon Dean. Thus, to demonstrate how readily Cabin would embrace both myself and a DEI strategy, the two community facilitators brought me onto a few community calls, even encouraging me to share a few words about myself and the DEI bounty. The results were tremendous. I gradually became more invested in the Cabin community until, finally, I found myself deep in the proverbial rabbit hole. This piece covers what I learned through completing this bounty and developing Cabin’s Spring ‘22 strategy for increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion within its community. I share my story here because it is through this practice of inclusion emulated by the Community Guild that will help Cabin welcome new people from various backgrounds into its fold.

What is DEI? And what does it mean for DAOs?

DEI stands for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Sometimes, you will see folks append a J to the acronym, which stands for justice. Typically, an organization will launch strategies and initiatives that seek to promote greater diversity for a range of differing races, religions, ages, genders, sexual orientations, and physical abilities for two primary motivations: 1) a desire to improve broad social issues and 2) a business sense to develop novel business practices, increase revenue, and improve performance. 

Generally, DEI leaders and strategists agree that a community’s diversity will increase when the organization’s structure and processes are made to be more inclusive of people from different backgrounds. And, those new members will tend to stick around if they feel as though they are being treated equitably in the group. Thus, DEI strategies are usually focused on creating processes that promote the values of inclusion and equity for the sake of enhancing diversity.

So, how do those processes take shape within a DAO like Cabin? To figure that out, I studied different organizations within web3 that have made it their mission to bring people from diverse backgrounds into the space. From my research, it seems that the NFT ecosystem is much more robust than the DAO space when it comes to thinking about diversity and representation within their projects, likely because the NFT field has gained more mainstream appeal and funding than the DAO space. However, from the DAOs I studied, I witnessed impressive initiatives undertaken that were perfect for web3, such as airdropping tokens to underrepresented folks to encourage involvement and leadership; creating mentorship programs between newcomers and seasoned web3 veterans; and constructing small learning pods where community members can ask more vulnerable questions and receive support.

The goal of the bounty was to not only become informed about DEI in web3, but also to spur greater conversation within Cabin so that we could devise DEI initiatives that reflect our mission and where our community currently stands. Over the past few weeks, the Community Guild has brainstormed with the Media and Placemaker’s Guilds on ways we could improve diversity, equity, and inclusion within the community. We also held open town halls on the topic and announced it regularly in Community Calls so members could weigh in and share their ideas, interest, and questions. Momentum has built within the community to the point where Cabin is launching its first intentional DEI strategy to build upon its already great inclusive culture. Phase 1 for our DEI strategy to be implemented in Spring ‘22 is outlined below.

To start, we will first create a DEI team within our Community Guild that will discuss and work together on Phase 1’s key action items and projects. This team will be led by a project steward to keep the group’s activity organized and will host bi-weekly DEI calls open to the broader Cabin community and leadership to share updates on action items and projects. 

Next, Cabin will conduct an audit of the demographic and socio-economic backgrounds of our active community, contributors, leadership, and token wealth distribution in order to have baseline numbers established to identify growth areas for diversification. We will have that data available for internal viewing in an active database so our community can have metrics around our overall diversity. Concurrently, members of the DEI team will embark on a listening tour within our community to learn from our members from underrepresented backgrounds how we can make our DAO more inclusive and accessible for themselves and others.

In the meantime, the Placemaker’s Guild will be launching a DAO Operator Residency from June 13 - June 19 for DAO leaders who wish to, or are already working to make their communities more diverse, inclusive, and equitable. This residency will not only help build lasting relationships between participants, but will also feature community building exercises, talks with DEI practitioners, and networking opportunities with web3 investors. If you are interested in joining this DAO Operator Residency at our Cabin Neighbourhood Zero or helping out as a DEI practitioner or web3 investor, please send an email to ushadman0@gmail.com or DM me over Discord (Shadman Uddin#9382). We hope to provide some scholarships for those who need it through a community crowdfund in the coming weeks, so please don’t let cost be a barrier. 

Finally, we will synthesize learnings from these actions to propose three data-informed initiatives for Cabin to diversify in key target areas. These initiatives will have clearly defined metrics of success and timelines so that we can evaluate their efficacy.

Cabin is committed to being an ally for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the DAO space. Thus, we will be providing bounties and compensating tasks in Coordinape to those members who help us during Phase 1 and move us further in the direction of an equitable future.

If you are excited by the launch of Cabin’s journey for greater diversity, equity, and inclusion and want to either partner with us, work alongside us, or contribute to the DAO Operator Residency, join the Community Guild in the Cabin Discord, find us on Twitter, or reach out to the Community Guild over email!

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