Top 10 Ways EA can Address its Socio-Economic Talent Bottleneck

I wrote a blog post recently on how EA is losing large amounts of talent both passively and actively due to socioeconomic factors, and promised to write a shorter, punchier piece listing ways we can address this issue. So here we are. They’re not ordered in any particular way, all are equally important, but the distribution algorithm loves lists so here we are!

  1. Hardship Fund

For EA community members who are working on EA-aligned projects, or who are attending EA events, a special funding pot to help towards living or travel costs would be very useful. The major conferences are where huge amounts of networking happen, so getting a wider variety of people to them helps address the lack of intellectual and social diversity within the EA community.

2. Inclusion Officer

Having an ‘Inclusion Officer’ or similar individual whose responsibility it is to make sure the EA community is open to all backgrounds, particularly at events, would be useful as a point of contract for people for whom poverty is a barrier to EA participation. It’s less embarrassing to deal with a single person, and they would be able to advise more specifically than general staff.

3. Socio-Economic Specific Signposting

“Financial situations preventing you from fulfilling your potential? Here are 15 sources of EA funding, fellowship, or advice which could help!” - alas, if only that was a real webpage or article. Someone should make one. Maybe me, if I find the time?

4. EA Accommodation

For major EA events, EA booking some rooms within (appropriate) walking distance of the venue and offering these at discount would help level the geographic playing field.

5. Micro-Funding

Offering smaller scale micro-funding to promising early careers researchers would help those researchers produce better research. For example, paying a promising early careers researcher minimum wage at 15 hours per week would mean they would be able to schedule time to work on exploratory research without putting themself at financial risk. This could work like a fellowship, but at a smaller and less formal scale.

6. Mentorships

Putting more effort and resources into a mentorship system could help newer EAs from less advantaged socio-economic backgrounds access a wider network and other experience often missing from their lived experience.

7. Specialist Fellowships

Offering specific fellowships for people from disadvantaged backgrounds would allow them to widen networks, fill education gaps, and learn research skills even if they’ve been priced out of education in the past.

8. Generic Community-Building Funding

Allowing local EA groups to apply for ‘diversity and inclusion’ funding specifically for projects intended to tackle local barriers may be very effective, as they harness local knowledge to tackle barriers which can differ by region.

9. Early-Careers Roles

Making an effort to increase the number of early careers roles available at EA organisations would be a significant boon to promising early careers researchers. For example, most jobs in EA orgs are a single position at £50k-£70k, whereas attempting to get more early £15k-£30k roles in the EA community would help stabilise the talent pipeline and reduce attrition

10. Socio-Economic Groups

Just like there is a ‘for LGBTQ’, ‘for parents’, ‘people of colour’ and more -  an appropriately phrased group for people from disadvantaged backgrounds could be really useful. It would allow people to share their challenges and triumphs with peers who understand them.