The Inclusive Naming Initiative aims to streamline change by unifying open source industry efforts propelled by the Black Lives Matter movement
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – November 18, 2020 – KubeCon + CloudNativeCon NA Virtual – A group of leading global software companies including The Cloud Native Computing Foundation® (CNCF®), Cisco, IBM, The Linux Foundation, Red Hat, and VMware today announced the joint formation of the Inclusive Naming Initiative. This cross-organizational effort will remove harmful, racist, and unclear language in software development and unify the adoption of replacement terms across the technology industry.
The Inclusive Naming Initiative will coalesce industry efforts and define a recommended path forward for updating and replacing terms across software communities. It brings together work done by founding members and community groups, including Akamai Technologies, IBM, Red Hat, the Kubernetes Naming Working Group, and the LF Networking Inclusive Language Initiative to ensure alignment and adoption across the biggest open and closed source projects in the industry.
“The software industry has reached a critical mass of those who understand the importance of inclusive language and want to implement these changes as broadly as possible,” said Priyanka Sharma, general manager of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. “We have the opportunity to come together to ensure the work is done the right way, avoiding duplicate efforts or breaking dependencies. The Inclusive Naming Initiative will empower the community to eliminate this language with tangible guides and, most importantly, the chance to share invaluable knowledge based on experience.”
The long-term goal of the initiative is to remove all harmful and unclear language of any kind and replace it with an agreed-upon set of neutral terms. It will define processes and tools for replacing widely used terms, including:
- A well researched and comprehensive list of terms to be replaced, including whitelist, blacklist, master, slave, and others, along with alternatives.
- Language evaluation frameworks and templates to enable the industry to move forward without breaking software systems, dependencies, or creating unnecessary complications.
- Processes and infrastructure that enable these transitions and ensure that this work only needs to be done once.
- An awareness of the processes, systems, and other items that these terms are attached to.
Most importantly, the initiative brings together the parties who have both the ability and need to make these changes and to do so without breaking systems or causing inconveniences for the broader industry.
A culmination of processes to which problematic terms are attached, and bringing together parties who have to agree and act to change them.
“I have always believed organizations should prioritize people, processes, and then tools,” said Stephen Augustus, Kubernetes WG Naming lead, founding member of the Inclusive Naming Initiative, and senior open source engineer at VMware. “In the case of the Inclusive Naming Initiative, this means getting the right people involved to have critical discussions, then developing appropriate processes to get this work done. Our motto is ‘do it once,’ and we have to come together to create the necessary framework. I’m thrilled to be a part of this movement, laying the groundwork to solve this issue once and for all.”
The Kubernetes Naming Working Group (WG) was formed by Celeste Horgan, Stephen Augustus, Zach Corleissen, and Jaice Singer DuMars to remove barriers to contribution and adoption by replacing harmful language with neutral terms whenever possible. This includes but is not limited to language linked to racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, or discrimination against any underrepresented group. Beyond this, the group is making strides to improve the clarity of codebases and documentation by replacing idioms, metaphors, and slang specific to the English language.
“If open source is truly meant to be inclusive and a place where anyone can participate, it must be welcoming to all,” said Chris Wright, chief technology officer at Red Hat. “Creating communities built around this commitment to inclusivity is key to help foster collaboration around greater awareness and empathy in the language that we use in our everyday technical lives. Red Hat is pleased to be a part of the Inclusive Naming Initiative and look forward to furthering the goal of making open source communities fully open to contributors of all backgrounds.”
“IBM is dedicated to fostering a culture of inclusion and is committed to using tech for good,” said Dale Davis Jones, vice president and distinguished engineer at IBM. “We are excited to be a founding member of the Inclusive Naming Initiative, which brings together various efforts across the IT industry to consistently replace terms that promote bias. As long-standing members of the open source community, we believe that open dialogue and collaboration will help drive the widespread, sustained adoption of inclusive language in IT. This is an important step towards equality and equity in technology and we’re pleased to be part of it.”
For those companies and individuals interested in participating and knowledge sharing, please visit https://inclusivenaming.org. CNCF will be hosting the Inclusive Language in Code Community Meeting during KubeCon + CloudNativeCon NA Virtual on November 19 at noon EST.
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