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Inclusive Leadership

Question: How well is a project and community setup for diverse leadership?


Leadership is central to a project/community's culture and how the leadership is determined requires intentional design and accountability for the inclusion of others. Note the term "leadership" may vary depending on the project/community. Leadership roles have high visibility and the diversity of this group is critically important to fostering an inclusive community.


  • Enable communities to reflect on their own leadership practices.
  • Signal to newcomers and already existing community members that everyone is welcome, has an opportunity to take on leadership roles, and can be successful within the project.



This metric can be filtered by type of open source leadership (e.g., influential community roles):

  • Individuals serving as project maintainers (sometimes referred to as owners)
  • Individuals with repository merge access
  • Individuals who are organization members for the repository
  • Individuals who have defined community roles (community representatives, community speakers)
  • Individuals listed in project documents as contacts for issues with builds, documentation, or other community concerns
  • Individuals serving as community event organizers
  • Individuals serving as community mentors for available mentorship programs

Data Collection Strategies

Project leaders can seek to understand how the project supports inclusive leadership by asking some self-relfective questions that can include:

Review & Renewal

  • Are all leadership roles limited by time and require term renewal?
  • Do the term renewals include opportunities for review and feedback from communities involved?
  • On what criteria are new leaders considered?
  • Is there a graceful way to move people out of leadership roles and into emeritus or advisory roles? If there are, can we outline some? Lisiting out some of them would help.

Distribution of Leaders

  • Are leaders limited in the number of leadership roles one person can hold?
  • Are new leadership opportunities and pathways decided and consulted on by the community involved in that area?
  • Are the criteria for the role requirements validated by the community involved?
  • Does the project create clear definitions for roles?
  • Does the project publicly document their definitions for roles?
  • Is leadership responsibility held by groups and not individuals, where possible?


  • Do the project’s leaders agree to a standard by which they can be held accountable?
  • Do the staff & community know and understand how they can hold leaders accountable?
  • Are leaders aware that they represent the organization/project in their actions?
  • Are leaders following and continually evolving a shared framework for decision making?
  • Does the leadership openly communicate periods of inactivity or unavailability with the project and community?

Diverse Participation

  • Do the project leaders strive to include diverse voices and groups whenever possible? Can the community members also have a say in this inclusion of diverse voices and groups whenever possible?
  • Does the project enforce the Code of Conduct consistently and strictly?
  • Do the leadership pathway explicitly consider inclusion dimensions (e.g., time zone, language, bandwidth, and cultural norms)?

Roles & Consistency

  • Are the leadership roles valued similarly across the project (e.g., recognition, access to resources, and opportunities)?
  • Do all leaders have clarity in their roles and expectations?
  • Do all leaders have a shared foundational knowledge base & skills (e.g., Community Participation Guidelines).
  • Does project leadership follow a shared framework for decision making?
  • Are project roles clearly defined?
  • Are the related tools consistent and coherent, where possible?

Equal Value

  • Does the project value and recognize different types of experts equally (e.g., technical and non-technical)?

Acknowledgement of Limitations

  • Have project leaders identified technical, financial, or other limitations out of their control that may have an adverse impact on inclusivity?
  • Has leadership clearly and explicitly acknowledged these limitations publicly?
  • Are leaders open to discussing and implementing suggestions that reduce the impact of these limitations?



  • Emma Irwin
  • Amy Marrich
  • Kevin Lumbard
  • Matt Germonprez
  • Sean Goggins
  • Elizabeth Barron
  • Katie Scheuths

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