As product builders, our job is to thrill a diverse range of users. In my time as a product leader, I’ve found that a huge advantage to doing this comes from creating a team built around diversity — diversity in both background and in approach and experience.
For example, I’m enormously proud of my current team of product experts and engineers, not just because we exceed the industry standard for gender parity (women still hold fewer than 40% of product management jobs, but our team is 50% women), but because our team consistently hits the ball out of the park with creative ideas. And we do this by working with an extended team of people across the company.
Encouraging diverse viewpoints
How do we foster an environment that encourages diverse thinking? The first step is obviously to recruit a diverse team! But once the team is here it’s as important to actively promote and understand diverse viewpoints — to make sure that everyone has not only a seat at the table but a safe space to share their thoughts.
For example: one lesson learned from the “Me, too” movement is that when someone speaks out, it gives space for others to speak out too. An example of this is microaggressions. Even the smallest comment that exhibits chauvinism (whether the speaker intended it or not) should be addressed. I’ve always been surprised how when I do this, how many people privately thank me for speaking up. So addressing everything — even microaggressions — gives teammates space and confidence to be themselves.
How else? We also look for ways to allow diverse groups to participate. One way is making sure that people have different ways of providing input and feedback. Some people are good in the moment; others need time to think. Some easily share input aloud, others are more comfortable sharing things in writing. I’ve found that providing advance notice allows those who need to stew on things the time to do so and contribute more readily in meetings. Likewise we allow teammates to provide input via verbal and written methods, so everyone has a format in which they can shine.
The power of diversity is in the range of the points of view that engenders. For sure, it’s about having a diverse team, which could include gender, cultural, geographical, and race diversity. But, it's also about fostering an environment and creating processes so that each of the diverse team members is able to contribute to their full potential.
We’ll be talking about all this and more in an upcoming webcast that features women who are senior product leaders. Join us as we explore this and more which lead to building more useful products.
Behind the Product: The Women Paving & Building the Way
Join us on March 16 @ 10am PT/1pm ET as we celebrate International Women's day with a world-class, all-women panel led by Rachel Obstler, EVP of Product at Heap and leaders from Ring, Snowflake, and Data Culture. Register here for the event.