“If diversity were a product that launched 2 years ago it would be considered a failure.”
In a 2016 article on how to fix the diversity problem in tech, Bo Ren, former product manager at Facebook, made the above statement. Years later, progress toward diversity and inclusion in tech is still painfully slow.
Why? Several reasons.
First, the diversity discussion is still predominantly centered around gender and race, when it should also include broader considerations such as cultural, cognitive, and socioeconomic differences.
Secondly, there’s the tendency to hire just one of each underrepresented group in order to meet the diversity quota. However, diversity is not a task to tick off a company's to-do list.
Thirdly, diversity is not synonymous with inclusion. Acknowledging, mobilizing, and empowering every individual within a team, as well as creating a psychologically safe space for people to present their ideas is harder to pull off when diversity is more of a task than company culture.
Furthering diversity is a full-time commitment that demands being conscious of hiring, cognitive and similarity-attraction biases.
In order to prioritize diversity, it’s important to step off the bandwagon and reassess what diversity means for your company or team and determine how exactly to move the needle forward through deliberate action.
What does diversity in Product mean?
At its core, diversity is about valuing differences. It’s about recognizing that people with different backgrounds, experiences, learning abilities, and perspectives have something valuable to contribute. It’s about creating an environment where everyone feels included, respected, and valued for who they are.
Diversity in product means:
Seeking out diverse inputs and taking into consideration diverse experiences at the ideation stage of a product.
Making sure there’s space for everyone. Just as users of a product come from various backgrounds and races, having people with varied backgrounds, perspectives and opinions strengthen the team and lead to better products.
Fairer more representative hiring practices. Choosing people from the non-technical, traditional paths and sourcing for talents outside closed immediate networks. ensuring the interview panel is as diverse as the team they intend to build
Forgetting the gender-ratio goal and giving opportunities to those who are promising and deserving. As well as creating more room for multiple seats at the table.
Building products that serve a diverse world starts from within and product teams can avoid the homogeneity of building the same kind of products for the same kind of people by prioritizing diversity on all fronts. Prioritizing diversity requires team effort and collaboration at all levels across the organization.
Bosky, founder of PMdojo proposes that “we will only be able to change the narrative in the tech industry when we come together as a community to create a more diverse, inclusive, equal, and accessible world”. This is another reason why PMDojo enhanced its Product Accelerator programs to advocate for neurodiverse talent to bridge the diversity and hiring gap in tech.
Considering that no company and no leader can single-handedly fix this broken system, we must collectively work toward solving diversity’s growth problem. To do this, we need to pay attention to the problems that are right in front of us and make an effort to tackle those we are best equipped with.
At PMDojo, we recently partnered with Tribaja™️, an amazing organization breaking down barriers for people from underrepresented communities to flourish in the tech industry.
This partnership aligns with our commitment to empower people from all walks of life, regardless of their experiences and how they identify themselves, to successfully transition into tech and product roles without prior experience.
In addition, there’s an existing diversity scholarship we offer because we realize that when presenting opportunities, it’s important to ensure that minorities can access them and that they get the support they need as well as “a seat they can thrive in”, as Lilly Singh aptly stated in her TED talk.
“Diverse teams build better products, better products yield more revenue, more revenue creates happy investors and shareholders. Diversity is a bottom line for every business.”— Bo Ren
If diversity is the bottom line, then it’s our responsibility to use our positions of power to clear the path and make space for people from underrepresented groups, while keeping in mind Katie George’s stance, that “inclusivity is important because a diverse workforce must feel comfortable in order to contribute ideas”.
If you are interested in transitioning into a product career while being supported in a diverse and inclusive community join us as a PMDojo Fellow. Here, you will learn, network, receive mentorship, and gain industry experience in 10 weeks to get job-ready in tech. You can join as a Product Manager, UX Designer, UX Researcher, or a Software Developer.🚀
Together, we can champion you and help you accelerate your career.
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