DAOversity Report
Francisco Díaz
May 12th, 2023

by: Francisco Díaz

With collaboration from: ItamarGo, Banklesschick, JB, Melior and Pedro Parrachia

BanklessDAO partnered with talentDAO to run a survey on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) practices and culture in BanklessDAO. We collected data from 48 BanklessDAO members, aiming to understand how included/excluded people feel inside the DAO and how to improve their experiences.

This survey is an initiative from the “DAOversity” work team of BanklessDAO, which aims make the web3 space more inclusive and accessible.

In this article we’ll detail how we approached this problem, describe the results of each question, and discuss the results at the end of it. The sense making of this data is condensed in the “Discussion” section, while the “Results” section has a raw tone to expose the data as it was coded and summarized.


  1. The survey

  2. Results

  3. Discussion

    1. summary from each question (TL;DR)

    2. sense-making

    3. organizational culture of BanklessDAO

    4. hidden identity

  4. Conclusion

  5. References

1. The survey

We built a six-question survey on Tally that was open for BanklessDAO members to respond during November 2021:

  1. What's an example of a time when you felt very included in a DAO that you actively participate in? What factors about yourself or the situation contributed to you feeling included?

  2. What's an example of a time when you felt very excluded in a DAO that you actively participate in? What factors about yourself or the situation contributed to you feeling excluded?

  3. Do you feel like you can be more of yourself in a DAO compared to a traditional organization? Why or why not?

  4. Have you identified areas where you feel DAO's should improve in order to be more inclusive to yourself or others? (optional)

  5. If you are comfortable doing so, please share the underrepresented groups you identify with (optional)

  6. On a scale of 1 to 5, how inclusive do you feel the DAO and Web3 community is?

To analyze the information, we used inductive content analysis coding, which is a rigorous exploratory methodology that allows themes to emerge directly from the data. We had four subject matter experts on qualitative methodologies and DEI independently reviewing the responses, identifying topic themes, and categorizing participant responses based on these topic themes. Then two analysts reviewed all the initial codes and agreed on a final list of themes to be used to analyze the 48 responses.

This is an exploratory study, so we established a small threshold for themes. Coded topics needed to have at least five responses (10.4% of the sample) to become a theme. In the results section we provide each theme with the number of responses they got.

To complement the analysis, we used codes from existing literature on DEI, specifically from Jackson & Joshi (2011), and Roberson (2017). This means that all responses were analyzed three times: to explore themes, to code with the selected themes, and to code with themes taken from the literature review.

As tedious as this analysis process may sound, it gave great results as some original themes were not consistent enough to be a code by themselves but then appeared among other themes that, together, were present in over 10% of the responses using the codes from literature review. To give an example, people outside US time zones and neurodiverse members have important things to say, but they couldn’t get more than 10% of the responses as a separate topic, but they could be included into codes from literature review like “Task-oriented diversity” or “Formal communication”, which allowed us to not miss that important information.

2. Results

We describe each theme that came from every question, followed by the themes that appeared by using codes from the literature review. Most themes include a quote from a survey responder. You will also find the number of responses that each theme got. For example, “Attentive moderation (5)” means that five people’s responses relate to that theme.

Question 1: What's an example of a time when you felt very included in a DAO that you actively participate in? What factors about yourself or the situation contributed to you feeling included?

Six themes appeared from this question: Attentive moderation, Feeling listened, Inclusive leadership, Peer support, Recognition from peers, and Receiving something from the DAO.

Attentive moderation (5):
“Usually it is in smaller channels (hundreds of participants) or with very attentive/welcoming moderation.”

Moderators of calls or channels making time to create a sense of team. They achieve this by encouraging people to speak up, opening meetings up to questions, including comments in meeting notes, and checking in with members about their understanding of what is happening.

Feeling listened (11):
“I've been so surprised having been in a few Discord groups now and just having my voice heard and opinions discussed has been very refreshing. Even though we're all digital and have never met IRL, it feels like real dialogue is happening.”

Having a voice inside the DAO regardless of tenure or level of experience. This can be seen in many situations: being able to speak at meetings, having your ideas being considered in the guild, receiving quick responses to a DM, community stepping up to help, and welcomed proposals.

Inclusive leadership (5):
Leaders of the DAO or a specific team taking care to include members into the work of the DAO, especially newcomers. They do this by attending DMs, taking time to ensure that the group feel like a team, giving explicit recognition, allowing new members to have a voice, and promoting experienced contributors.

Peer support (5):
Peers including each other by supporting proposals, giving guidance on work tasks or personal matters, and providing mentorship.

Recognition from peers (9):“When people recognized and encouraged my art. Inspired confidence in my ability to add value.”

Being recognized means that your peers explicitly show they value your work. This can mean receiving tips or tokens at compensation rounds, being invited to events or projects where they think you could be a valuable member, receiving public recognition, being formally hired to work at the DAO, being promoted, and being encouraged in general to keep doing your work.

Receiving something from the DAO (12):
The DAO recognizing your participation. Some examples are receiving a task shortly after joining the DAO, receiving a tip or other payment for your contribution, receiving tokens via Coordinape, receiving POAPs for attending events, receiving advice, getting to do tasks with a higher level of difficulty or stake, or receiving privileges from owning specific NFTs.

Using the codes from literature review, we got three themes: Work team, Formal communication, and Organizational culture content.

Work team (19):
A work team is defined as “Organizational units of at least 3 and seldom more than 50 employees with responsibilities that require them to work interdependently” (Jackson & Joshi, 2011). 19 people explicitly mentioning a guild or working group when they described a moment when they felt included in the DAO. That means that 40% of the respondents feel or have felt included specially on smaller groups or teams. In the case of BanklessDAO this refers mostly to guilds.

Formal communication (19):
This refers to communication that happens in stablished channels from the DAO or work team, like official channels and community calls instead of DMs or sub-threads that only some members can see. It is very interesting that also a 40% of respondents mentioned that they feel included alluding to this formal spaces. It seems like people feel particularly included when their voices are heard, and contributions valued on the official spaces where everyone can see them. Examples of this are meetings or text channels where contributions are acknowledged, easy to find information on the Discord server to get involved, joining mentor sessions in the case of newcomers, getting recognition on specific channels, and being able to formalize proposals on Snapshot or any other official site for discussing and voting publicly.

Organizational culture (22):“I've been so surprised having been in a few discord groups now and just having my voice heard and opinions discussed has been very refreshing. Even though we're all digital and have never met IRL, it feels like real dialogue is happening.”

This refers to specific norms, values, and beliefs that are prevalent in the DAO. 22 out of the 48 respondents (46%) mentioned that the organizational culture of the DAO was something important that made them feel included. This includes aspects like peer encouragement to pursue proposals, being quickly included into the work of the organization, communicating via Discord, having the freedom to choose where to add value, creating a personal journey inside the DAO, being onboarded by your peers, meeting like-minded people that share a common goal, receiving public recognition, being able to work in a “fun” space, and the fact that members can coordinate work in a digitally native way.

Question 2: What's an example of a time when you felt very excluded in a DAO that you actively participate in? What factors about yourself or the situation contributed to you feeling excluded?

We got four themes from this question: Financial elitism, Lack of peer engagement, Outside responsibilities, and Hard to speak up.

Financial elitism (6):
This theme has two aspects: conversations centering on making money instead of creating good projects, and the DAO pricing out potential contributors with governance that favors big token holders. These two quotes are examples of both cases:

“Sometimes the conversation centers around finance and it makes me feel excluded since I don't come from that background, but I guess it's natural.”

“Group shaming for expressing concerns about the project. Felt that they only want to defend number go up rather than make the project work.”

Lack of peer engagement (6):
Being ignored by DAO peers. Examples include DMs without a response, questions unanswered on text channels, not getting any support for a proposal, or not getting a POAP/NFT after attending an event.

Outside responsibilities (5):
Having other responsibilities outside the DAO limits the time members have to read Discord channels and stay up to date with discussions and projects. Responsibilities like day jobs or family time make it hard to keep up with the abundance of things going on inside the DAO.

Tough to speak up (5):
“I tend to be a little shy, so sometimes I don't speak up. I don't know very much about DAO structures and processes yet and that can be a little intimidating.”

Finding it personally challenging to assert oneself in the DAO conversation, such as asking questions in a meeting or introducing oneself on text channels. Building a network inside the DAO can also be challenging for some people, and some women reported that they did not feel like their ideas were heard until a male repeated the idea as his own.

We got six themes from the codes taken from the literature review: Relations-oriented diversity, Task-oriented diversity, Underlying diversity, Communication, Social dominance, and Dispersion.

Relations-oriented diversity (5):
This code is defined as “Distribution of attributes that are instrumental in shaping interpersonal relationships, but which typically have no apparent direct implications for task performance” (Jackson & Joshi, 2011). The five respondents mentioned that felt excluded by gender, age, race, personality, and/or neurodiversity.

Task-oriented diversity (7):
This type of diversity is defined as “Distribution of attributes that are potentially relevant to the team's work” (Jackson & Joshi, 2011). Examples of this are organizational tenure, formal credentials/titles, or cognitive abilities. Three main issues arise from this code in question 2: lack of knowledge to contribute inside the DAO, lack of skillsets to be part of a certain project, and neurodiversity that makes it difficult to some people to keep up with conversations or advocate for own ideas. One response included auditory processing issues.

Underlying diversity (7):
This one is defined as “Differences among team members on attributes that generally become known only through interaction” like personality or attitudes (Jackson & Joshi, 2011). Similar to the prior code, we find people that don’t have the skill sets to contribute or having it difficult to find a project with their preferred skills. There’re also people that feel like the DAO assumes that everyone knows about DAO/web3 stuff and how to use web3 tools. DAO newbies are very present in this code, and they also mention that they don’t find anything of interest to contribute to.

Communication (11):“Honestly, I constantly feel excluded, because there is so much going on, so many conversations to keep up with and I'm a perfectionist, I need to know everything about a subject, understand all the option, listen to all the sides, and only then I can formulate and try to voice my opinion. It's overstimulating and kind of confusing at times, and quite intimidating. I don't have the energy or the mental capacity to keep up with it all, so I end up not keeping up with any of it.”

11 of our 48 respondents felt excluded to communication related issues (formal and informal). Examples include not finding adequate information on Discord channels to learn how to contribute, not being able to keep up with the overload of information, and feeling like their voices are not being heard -presumably because there’s so much going on that experienced members don’t have time to address every person’s concerns. This is also related to the lack of transparency with some tasks when there’s no clarity about compensation or team organization, which makes contributors work “on the blind” without knowing how much they’re getting paid or who to reach out to if they need help.

Social dominance (6):
The precise way we understand social dominance in this context is “Social groups that enjoy dominant positions and others are relegated to subordinate positions” (Jackson & Joshi, 2011). Who are the privileged group of the DAO that “dominate” spaces and have more influence to take decisions? The answer from our respondents: US based members that accommodate meeting times to their time zones and “white bros” that seem to be more represented in most channels.

Dispersion (18):
We took the concept of dispersion from Roberson (2017) that is defined as “types of diversity seen in a work unit”. It is important to understand that not all differences are equal, and they manifest and affect members in different ways. We have 3 types of dispersion: separation refers to differences in members’ position along a single continuous attribute like values or attitudes; variety reflects diversity in unit members’ unique or distinctive information like functional background or sources of knowledge and experience; and disparity represents inequality or the relative concentration of desired resources like privilege or status.

38% of respondents mentioned that these types of differences made them feel excluded at least once. Variety is the most prevalent type of dispersion, where 11 people mentioned that assumed knowledge, conversations around finance, lack of time to engage in the DAO, and lack of experience are ways in which they feel excluded. Then we have 5 people falling into the Disparity category, where people have felt priced out from participating and women feeling less heard on a male-dominated space. Finally, two people fell into the Separation category complaining about products being created for a wealthy minority of blockchain adopters and someone else got annoyed for race-related discussions and comments that got this person upset.

Question 3: Do you feel like you can be more of yourself in a DAO compared to a traditional organization? Why or why not?

We got three themes from this question: Authentic self, Judged on merit not identity, and Work autonomy & flexibility.

Authentic self (17):
“DAOs structure themselves and form almost entirely out of mutual interest/input. Most trad organizations do not. Like damn if I speak my mind will I be able to pay rent.”

“I also really like that most calls have no video. While I miss the friendly faces sometimes, it's nice not judging or being judged on appearances in calls. It costs less social energy and I feel it helps everyone stay focused on the task at hand and the quality of ideas and less on who they want hook-up with.”

People mention that they don’t need to hide some aspects of their personality or thinking to fit inside the DAO, contrary to how they feel in traditional organizations. This allows members to feel more relaxed at meetings, but also gives space to nurture people’s true personality and thinking. Nonetheless, some people mention that this feeling of being themselves is less present when videos are on in calls or that ideological issues are still something that you cannot hide in your comments. There’s also a woman that feels respected for her work, but still receive comments like, “Wow you are a female AND you are intelligent”.

Judged on merit not identity (5):
“They can't see my face and therefore I'm judged by my abilities and what I say rather than how I look. That helps a lot.”

Related to the previous theme, people feel like they can be judged based on what they do and the value they bring to the DAO instead of prejudices based on gender, race, or tenure. This is part of the culture of the DAO but also helped by people using pseudonyms and communication mostly being by text and audio, rather than video.

The fact that people are valued based on their contributions also means that they don’t have to “act as professionals” or try to step on other people to get to higher positions, since their compensations and promotions are heavily based on the votes and opinion of the community.

Work autonomy & flexibility (14):
“In the DAO, I can contribute when I feel like it. I control how much I contribute, when I contribute, and where I contribute. I can hop in a project for a few weeks and move on to another if I fancy. There’re no write ups, no suspensions, no terminations. My income isn’t capped. The thing I hated most about my previous jobs is that I was a salaried member of management. No matter how many hours I worked, my paycheck was the same every payday. Here in the DAO, I can earn more by doing more! I have more freedom than I’ve ever had.”

The flat structure of DAOs with no legal contracts allow people to feel more ownership about their work, time, and energy. This gives members freedom to contribute whenever they feel like it, picking the projects they are interested in and making their own job descriptions and learning paths.

We got three themes from the codes taken from the literature review: Organizational culture, Diversity climate, and Separation.

Organizational culture (34):
70% of participants mentioned that what make them feel more like themselves at DAOs is related to organizational culture. There are many reasons mentioned below, including answers from participants who are not entirely happy with the “DAO culture”:

“I love working in the DAO and I appreciate the fact that I can bring all my skills, not just the ones I have formal qualifications in.”

“I choose what I can do from the available tasks and when it is time, I get rewarded. No one is trying to step on each other and try to get to higher positions of the organization. You cannot do that kind of stuff anyway; you have to prove yourself with your work and personality and get enough votes from the community to be where you want to be.”

“I appreciate that I have more freedom in how/when I can contribute... but no, I don't feel like I can be "more of myself", it actually feels quite daunting having to interact and express myself to so many people.”

“DAO organizations are flat, and you are free to pursue your line of interest. The key is to figure out how to do that and that is probably the hardest part of a DAO because there is no clear structure or organization.”

Diversity climate (6):
We understand the concept of Diversity Climate as “employees' perceptions of the degree to which all members of the organization are integrated into the social life of the organization and the use of fair human resource management practices” (Jackson & Joshi, 2011). We found some interesting answers here because some members are aware that the perception of how they or others are included or excluded in DAOs depends a lot on who they are. For example, we have participants that question the fact that DAOs are radically different from traditional organizations, with the difference that there are more people who feel the same way inside DAOs.

We have people seeing more potential for inclusion in theory, especially if videocalls are out of the picture and members are allowed to express themselves via text or audio only. Of course, not everyone feel like that since there are people who do enjoy having videocalls and seeing familiar faces when they have meetings. Women are still underrepresented and sometimes treated as not being equal to their male peers. The open environment and flexibility also make it easier for some neurodivergent people to not feel pressured to interact with other people when they don’t feel like it and also allowing them to work when they have the energy and focus to do so.

Separation (5):
We discussed earlier the concept of dispersion, which refers to different types of diversity seen in a work unit. In this question all five respondents who fell into this category alluded to separation, which is a difference on values or attitudes. We can translate this as people who appreciate the organizational culture but still find some things that could be done differently. Wanting to express only via text, feeling like DAOs rely too much on tokens for their operations, feeling like DAOs expect people to work for free, and those who think that not every comment or idea is respected (ideological diversity).

Question 4: Have you identified areas where you feel DAO's should improve in order to be more inclusive to yourself or others?

This question was optional but still got 32 responses from the 48 participants. We got 5 themes: Explicit statement, Invite perspectives, Gender inclusion, Improve onboarding, and Language use.

Explicit statement (5):
“I feel an explicit statement of not tolerating intolerance (racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, nationalism) would help address these situations before they come up. Allowing toxicity to fester drives away the best intentioned of people and kills communities.”

Some respondents mentioned that an important first step is to make an explicit statement as a DAO in favor of diversity and to actively moderate against intolerance or practices that make members feel excluded. This also must come with a real intention to question and discuss practices inside the DAO, and to listen to potentially marginalized groups to make a better place to work and hang out.

Invite perspectives (5):
Related to the last theme and a strategy that 10% of respondents mentioned to make DAOs more inclusive is to actively invite different perspectives into the ecosystem. Some people believe that DAOs are not exclusive per se, it’s just that certain demographics are underrepresented, or they don’t know enough to include themselves.

Strategies to address this could be taking occasional polls to accommodate meetings to different time zones, being open to other ideologies and ways to think, actively inviting people to be part of the everyday work of the DAO and listen to different groups to find ways to organize the DAO in a way that is accessible and inclusive for anyone.

Gender inclusion (8):
“It's a weird problem because Web3 is defined by open, trustless, permissionless systems, yet the majority of Web3 people are white guys. The most open systems draw one gender and one race, primarily? It's a strange situation. It could be because developers and finance people are drawn to Web3, and those are heavily male industries.”

Even though we don’t have concrete number of how many people in the DAO space are men, there’s a general feeling that most people who are member of DAOs are male. Some respondents affirm that there’s justification for this since the technology and business world is heavily dominated by men, but that doesn’t mean that DAOs should give up on their effort to include other genders. The gender inclusion theme also includes questioning practices like “bro culture”, or the perpetuation of gender stereotypes on NFT or art projects. We do have respondents mentioning that the male-dominant environment of DAOs doesn’t make them feel insecure since is not as bad as male corporate world, but we also have other people that feel like it is quite the same.

Improve onboarding (7):
DAOs must figure out ways to improve onboarding experiences to facilitate people’s integration into the DAO ecosystem and web3 in general. A good onboarding experience helps people get in contact with like-minded people, navigate busy Discord servers, and find a niche where they can develop their skills and interests inside the DAO.

Suggestions from respondents include cohorts or lessons with newcomers that train people to contribute, providing onboarding materials in all major languages, diversifying strategies since not all people are used to gaming economics or gamified styles of onboarding sessions, encouraging people to be more proactive in introducing themselves and speaking up, and not relying so heavily on Discord because big servers become hard to navigate for new members.

Language use (6):
Two main topics arise here. On one hand DAOs can be inclusive to people from all over the world by addressing the language barrier problem. Secondly, language use is also important around web3 jargon like WAGMI, GM, DEX, etc. Some members take time to get used to the jargon.

We got eight themes from the codes taken from the literature review: Relations-oriented diversity, Readily detected diversity, Formal communication, Task conflict, Social dominance, Organizational culture, Diversity climate, and Dispersion.

Relations-oriented diversity (6):
“It's a tough one. I am sure there are plenty of ways to help this space grow and be more inclusive. That doesn't mean it is an easy task. The fact that it began as a male dominated space makes the gender one tricky. As a global and borderless technology, I think a lot of the work will happen organically as people are taken outside of their immediate environments and interact more with minority cultures and identifiers.”

This code relates to attributes that are instrumental in shaping relationships but should not have a direct implication on task performance (age, gender, or personality). The most mentioned attribute of our respondents was gender.

Readily detected diversity (6):
This code is understood as “Differences among team members on attributes that are easily discerned or quickly discovered.” The same results from the last code emerge here (age, gender, etc.) With gender being the most mentioned attribute.

Formal Communication (5):
Helping members navigate Discord, Snapshot, Notion, and other communication tools; communicating how members can contribute; curating Discord servers so they don’t become overwhelming for members; creating spaces for non-English speakers to contribute and interact with all the community, and making sure that NFT projects that are promoted are aligned with the DEI values of the DAO.

Task conflict (7):
“Guest pass renewable can be frustrating for newcomers when they are already active in chats and contributing”.

We understand task conflict as disagreements about work itself, the way it’s done or if it’s aligned with the values of the organization. Responses included the need for a larger and honest discussion about compensation, the dependence on Discord, improving onboarding practices that sometimes end up being frustrating the need to delegate work for other members so the bulk of tasks is not done by just a small group of active contributors, and also a person criticizing how DEI practices in DAOs should be “much more than just a wheelchair logo” in a way to avoid superficial DEI agendas.

Social dominance (8):
“In DAOs, I love that remote workers are "first class citizens". But new tensions arise from trying to include people from drastically different time zone. Often, the meetings end up centered around 1 time zone, and if you're on the other side of the world, it's tough to stay connected.”

When we talk about social dominance, we talk about people who enjoy dominant positions and others who are relegated to subordinated positions. Can all members participate in equal conditions?

DAOs should be aware of who benefits from the current state of the organization and what members may feel excluded because their demographics are underrepresented, or most sync activities happen in a time impossible to attend. Without proper data is hard to make conclusions, but based on member’s responses it seems like DAOs are not only male-dominated, but also US-dominated.

Organizational culture (16):
“I think the experience of learning to collaborate and how we show up will be reiterative. I guess one thing would be check ins around community vibes and accessibility. Access and inclusivity is one of those tricky dynamics in that you can’t get everyone to walk through. It’s a trust exercise and taking chances. I think vulnerable spaces would help open up some of this.”

The results we got in this code have been present in previous themes: language barriers, video on calls, time zones, etc. People feel included by the organizational culture, but things can always be improved.

Diversity climate (13):
“I believe the international or non-English speaking branch of the community is becoming more and more detached from the core DAO because of the creation of multiple centralized choke points being put in place between them and the rest of the DAO (international participants are going through first the translators guild, then the International Media Nodes project, then to their respective IMN's before even starting to navigate an underdeveloped guild system if they even get there).”

Related to prior codes, it is worth mentioning again that not all members can participate in equal conditions. A lot of demographics feel underrepresented, and it especially affects people who live outside the US since they cannot attend meetings or do sync work. Also, neurodivergent people who are overwhelmed by Discord channels or video calls could be included if we know what other channels of communication could facilitate their integration into everyday activities of the DAO.

Dispersion (14):
Disparity is related to time zones and language barriers, while Separation points out to the “bro” culture found in some groups, ideological tolerance, and how DAOs sometimes follow superficial DEI agendas. Lastly, Variety includes all issues related to underrepresentation since DAOs are dominated by US men (according to respondents). It also includes diversification of onboarding experiences and making sure that all people feel comfortable enough to communicate, even those who have auditory or visual impediments.

Question 5: If you are comfortable doing so, please share the underrepresented groups you identify with.

This was another optional question. We got 27 responses from the 48 participants. This question doesn’t get as many details as the other questions did. Most answers have just a few words, but a few participants did provide details about their experience. We cannot speak of “themes” here but wanted to keep the same structure that we used in the previous questions of self-emerging topics and codes from the literature review. We got 5 underrepresented groups: Activity, Age, Gender, Race, and Sexual orientation.

Activity (5):
Non-gamers, specific guilds, lurkers (people who just want to watch and learn), and newbies.

Age (6):
Older people feel excluded because it’s harder for them to understand the tools and the language. But also, young members feel excluded around certain topics that they don’t domain.

Gender (14):
Women mentioned feeling underrepresented in DAOs.

Race (7):
We don’t have descriptions, but people mentioned feeling underrepresented by their race.

Sexual orientation (8):
Of the 8 respondents, 5 mentioned “Queer” and 3 said “LGBTQ+”.

We got three themes from the codes taken from the literature review: Relations-oriented diversity Readily detected diversity, and Underlying diversity.

Relations-oriented diversity (20):
“I think Fight Club is going to naturally be over-represented by wealthier and maybe older cohorts since it can take many years to build up the wealth needed to be an accredited investor.”

41% feel underrepresented by an attribute that concerns how they build relationships with other people within the DAO. Same goes for the code Readily detected diversity (20).

Underlying diversity (12):
Attributes that are only known through interaction like religion, sexual orientation, financial status, ideology or neurological.

Question 6: On a scale of 1 to 5, how inclusive do you feel the DAO and Web3 community is?

The following table and chart show that people feel more included than excluded, with a median and average around 4 points.

Having most respondents in the “included” side of the chart is good news, but still 15 members (31%) feel “somewhat included” by choosing 3 on the scale. Althought is good to see that we have zero responses that gave a 1 and just two members felt 2 on the scale, this could be affected by survival bias as we can expect that people who felt very excluded are not participating in the DAO anymore, and hence, were not part of this study.

3. Discussion

Before discussing the results, let’s consider why diversity and inclusion matter. In the context of work organizations, Ely and Thomas (2001) found three arguments in favor of encouraging cultural diversity: 1) as a moral end to correct historic discrimination, 2) as a way to gain access to the markets of a cultural or national group, and 3) as a resource for learning. Even though all three are important, after examining various cases to identify when diversity enhances work groups functioning, the authors found that the third approach was the best. So, it’s not only a moral baseline that organizations should adopt, but also an opportunity to learn, adopt different perspectives and work together more effectively.

It is interesting to note that some authors affirm that there’s limited evidence that diverse workgroups lead to more innovation or better performance (Richard, Barnett, Dwyer, & Chadwick, 2004). Yet, in organizations that are flatter and less bureaucratic, like DAOs, diversity has been found to be disruptive (Harris & Beyerlein, 2003). This comes true if it’s combined with appropriate leadership that can guide a diverse work team. From the analysis done by Jackson & Joshi (2011) they found that transformational leadership style may be especially effective for diverse work teams, which means having leaders acting as role models that provide motivational inspiration and intellectual stimulation, allowing members to align under the same goals and values by building a sense of optimism and efficacy. If leaders of the DAO can focus on guiding the team under the same principles and being proactive on achieving those goals, then a diverse team could be easily aligned with the work that team needs to be done and to use their differences as a tool instead of being an obstacle for coordinating effort.

We should caution the reader, though, that most literature we found is based on workplace context, which could differ from some of the dynamics that DAOs have, especially those which focus on vibes and community instead of product or services. Also, most of the research found in the literature was conducted in North American organizations, which is a caution against exporting the results to other organizations that are not based in the US.

That being said, we encourage to take two perspective changes: 1) celebrating and proactively managing diversity instead of treating it as an issue or something to be addressed. 2) Avoid aggregating groups under classifications like minorities, marginalized, or disabled. The results from the survey show that doing so makes us lose information about all the diverse perspectives that members have around inclusion and exclusion, which constrains our understanding of meaning, consequences, and unique experiences of the intersections of various identities (Roberson, Ryan & Ragins, 2017).

We can also see from the results that “diversity” is much broader than visible attributes like gender, age, or race. Underlying diversity is also important and includes things like ideology, neurodiversity, professional background, personality, time zones, and many others. It is important to understand that individuals belong to multiple identities, but also that not all differences are equal. In this survey in particular, gender was mentioned more frequently and had more detailed information on the open questions as members informed on how they feel underrepresented or being less visible compared to their male coworkers within the DAO.

To put all this into the context of BanklessDAO, let’s check a summary of the codes used and the results from each question:

3.1 Summary from each question (TL;DR)

  1. What makes members feel included? 40% of participants mentioned that they feel included inside a work team or guild, which indicates that people get easily included inside a smaller group moreso than the general DAO, which could be too broad. The same percentage of respondents mentioned that Formal Communication is key for them to feel included. Formal communication includes stablished channels like community calls, weekly guild syncs, announcement channels or text channels from specific groups instead of DMs or sub-threads that only some members can read. Another 46% of respondents feel like the Organizational culture of the DAO plays a major role in feeling included: peer support and recognition, feeling listened, attentive moderation, and inclusive leadership are some aspects of the “DAO culture”.

  2. What makes members feel excluded? Answers are more disperse here, but we can mention lack of peer engagement (no response to DMs or questions), US dominance of the space (hard for non-English speakers to engage and specially for those far away from US time zones who can’t join meetings), and general discriminatory practices against women, crypto newbies, or older people. There’re also complaints against financial elitism where people feel priced out of a community or that governance is whale friendly. This also includes people who complain that some groups prioritize making quick money instead of building good products or services.

  3. Do members feel more like themselves in a DAO compared to a trad org? 60% say yes, 20% are ambivalent, 10% say no, and the other 10% didn’t give an answer. 70% of the respondents point out to Organizational culture as a major factor in feeling more like themselves in a DAO. This refers to certain aspects of the DAO like flat structure, work autonomy and flexibility, and being judged on merit and not identity.

  4. How can the DAO improve to be more inclusive? This question has the most dispersion of answers: making an explicit statement to get rid of toxic members or discriminatory practices, working towards gender inclusion, improve onboarding practices, inviting perspectives from marginalized communities and language use. Navigation of the space is also an area for improvement since many people feel like staying up to date with the DAO is a challenge, especially for those with IRL responsibilities, non-English speakers, and those far away from US time zones.

  5. What underrepresented groups are participating in this survey? Newbies, old and young people, women, non-white people, and people who feel underrepresented by their sexual orientation.

  6. In a scale from 1 to 5 on how inclusive people feel the DAO and web3 community to be, the average among respondents was 3.8 with a median of 4. 15 members (31% of the sample) gave a 3 in the scale, which is “somewhat included”. It is evident that more work is needed since 1/3 of the respondents feel like they’re not entirely integrated or represented inside the DAO.

3.2 Sense-Making

A good starting point to make sense of these results is to compare questions 3 and 6. 60% of members feel like they can be more like themselves inside the DAO compared to a traditional organization, which coincides with the 64% of members who positioned themselves in 4 or 5 in the scale of how included they feel in the DAO. The problem relies on the other 36% of members who feel “somewhat included” or directly excluded from the DAO. We hope that the discussion of the data can be an actionable guide to improve those numbers. The rest of the questions provide insight on how we can make DAO members feel more included.

To begin, one of the stronger indicators we found in literature and in question 1 is that feelings of inclusivity are more strongly associated with specific work groups or teams than the general organization. This means that more attention should be put on how members find their niche and build relationships inside those groups, instead of trying to foster socialization with the whole organization. This is especially true for larger organizations like BanklessDAO, as many respondents said that they feel overwhelmed by the number of channels and discussions. Directing members to specific teams could guide them on their “DAO journey” and lower the FOMO of trying to stay up to date with the whole DAO. Another study done on DAO leadership supports this approach, as leaders can provide context and enable members with tools to easily adapt to the workgroups of the DAO instead of letting new members find their niche by themselves (Wocken & Díaz, 2023).

Communication plays a critical role for inclusivity, especially formal communication, which we defined as the stablished or official means of communication for the organization. Members should feel that they’re listened and that they participate on discussions with more experienced members on equal conditions. Community calls, weekly syncs and announcement channels are examples of how the DAO -and teams in particular- can make members feel aligned by sharing context and equipping new joiners with all the information necessary to add value. Of course, informal communication is also important as it makes members feel like they are creating relationships with real human beings. Answering DMs, addressing questions on text channels and making room for more intimate conversations are important to improve informal communication. Not addressing the communication problem is one of the many fronts where members feel excluded from the DAO. They feel like peers are not engaging with them and therefore feeling like they don’t have a voice, or they are not important to the organization.

The fact that many DAOs are US-centric creates two friction points: language and time zones. Non-English speakers may feel not on the same level of communication. A culture of multilingualism would make DAOs inclusive to members of any part of the world. This leads to the second friction point, which is time zones. Even if people outside the US can speak English fluently, they may be based on countries far away from US time zones, making it difficult to join meetings or calls. Being able to be flexible and consider different time zones for the work that the DAO does is important to make sure that all nationalities can be included and not just those near the US. One solution to this issue could be creating polls to decide meeting times in a more equative fashion or creating parallel events on different time zones, like onboarding sessions for Western time zones and another one for Eastern time zones.

3.3 Organizational culture of BanklessDAO

Feeling included thanks to the DAO culture in terms of organizational practices and values is the biggest theme from this survey, with 70% of participants mentioning something related to the organizational culture when asked if they could feel more like themselves in a DAO compared to a traditional organization. Having a flat structure, bringing all your skills and interests, creating your own job description, sharing the space with like-minded people, having work flexibility and ownership, and many other examples were given when describing the organizational culture. It is great to know that people appreciate the way the DAO is structured and how it brings more freedom and transparency to its members, but we need to be cautious about this, especially when we find comments like this one:

“In the DAO, I can contribute when I feel like it. I control how much I contribute, when I contribute, and where I contribute. I can hop in a project for a few weeks and move on to another if I fancy. There’re no write ups, no suspensions, no terminations. My income isn’t capped. The thing I hated most about my previous jobs is that I was a salaried member of management. No matter how many hours I worked, my paycheck was the same every payday. Here in the DAO, I can earn more by doing more! I have more freedom than I’ve ever had.”

Developing a flexible space where people have freedom to contribute and explore their interests is good and members clearly show that they appreciate how norms from traditional workspaces are being defied. But that doesn’t mean that DAOs should be radically open spaces with no accountability. Making members feel included implies that leaders are setting expectations and letting new members know that there are rules and codes of conduct, so they don’t get frustrated by unclear work agreements like compensations or being fired by the DAO, a delicate theme among decentralized organizations.

3.4 Hidden identity

One last interesting finding from the survey is the ability to manage your identity inside a DAO. You can choose what information to show your peers and what to keep private. The DAO doesn’t need to know your gender, nationality, age, or race. You don’t even have to give a real name as many web3 people use pseudonyms. This has positive outcome, as many people showed in their responses. Alongside privacy benefits, we can see people feeling valued by their contributions and thinking instead of being judged on who they are and where they come from. The digital first environment of DAOs also make some people feel comfortable since they don’t have to interact in person with people they don’t know or with who they don’t feel comfortable with. Even if they have to speak on meetings, the use of video is optional, and the DAO culture favors more relaxed and informal conversations. This aspect of “identity management” in DAOs can be beneficial, but we also perceive it as a risk from the DEI perspective. By using pseudonyms and hiding aspects of your identity, you don’t have to give unnecessary information, but this makes it difficult to judge how inclusive DAOs are.

Women that hide their gender could feel less discriminated in male-dominated groups, but this doesn’t mean that the DAO is more inclusive. It is just that you have the option to show that aspect of your life or not. It is interesting to note that in the responses where people mention that they feel included, many said that it was because they could bring their full self to the organization: all your skill set, your interests, your personality, and passions. If people must conceal something from their beings to feel more included, then we cannot say that members are allowed to bring their full self. DAOs should keep the option available for people to manage their identities and be tolerant if members don’t want to give a real name or identity, but the organizations must encourage respect and inclusiveness so that people who openly show their gender, nationality, sex orientation or race can feel as welcomed and included as those who opt to use pseudonyms and keep other aspects of their identity in private.

4. Conclusion

The presented results are part of an exploratory research to understand DEI practices in the DAO space by asking members how included or excluded they feel within the organization and what could be done to improve this experience. The BanklessDAO members show that, in average, they feel included, and the DAO culture fosters that. We have also seen that 1/3 of members feel like they’re not entirely included inside the organization, which points out to the many aspects that the DAO still needs to work on if it wants to create a better space. This is a big challenge to address if we consider BanklessDAO as a whole, but we can start working towards a better organization by focusing on guilds and other work teams, as members said that those places impact most how included they feel. Exploring the data from this survey opens many other questions and possibilities for further research. It would be interesting to replicate this study with other DAOs and see if communication, smaller work groups, and organizational culture are as important as it is in BanklessDAO to make members feel included. Having more data from other decentralized organizations would allow us to see if we are replicating the same practices from traditional organizations, or if we are actually building a new space for people to bring their full being and explore their talents and interests with like-minded people.

5. References

Ely, R., & Thomas, D. (2001). Cultural diversity at work: the effects of diversity perspectives on work group processes and outcomes. Administrative Science Quarterly, 46, 229−273.

Harris, C. L., & Beyerlein, M. M. (2003). Team-based organization. In M. A. West, D. Tjosvold, & K. G. Smith (Eds.), Handbook of organizational teamwork and cooperative working (pp. 187–209). Chichester, England: Wiley.

Jackson, S. E., & Joshi, A. (2011). Work team diversity. In S. Zedeck (Ed.), APA handbook of industrial and organizational psychology, Vol. 1. Building and developing the organization (pp. 651–686). American Psychological Association.

Richard, O. C., Barnett, T., Dwyer, S., & Chadwick, K. (2004). Cultural diversity in management, firm performance, and the moderating role of entrepreneurial orientation. Academy of Management Journal, 47, 255–266.

Roberson, Q., Ryan, A. M., & Ragins, B. R. (2017). The evolution and future of diversity at work. Journal of Applied Psychology, 102(3), 483–499.

Shore, L. M, et al. (2009). Diversity in organizations: Where are we now and where are we going? In Human Resource Management Review 19 (2009) 117–133.

Wocken, L., Díaz, F. (2023, February 26) Leadership in DAOs. Mirror. https://mirror.xyz/lisawocken.eth/b_rwKEQ0DibZakx6WQiOGo1TtPXOQdAJG1lUaM8kEmQ

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