Workplace Diversity Impacts Us All
At our upcoming May event, Women Speak Tech and Culture Summit are joining forces to discuss best practices for putting people first in organizations, establishing a values-driven culture and attracting emotionally intelligent talent.
To truly prioritize people and culture, a more complete support of diversity in the workplace needs to be built across the board. Diversity in the workplace has been proven time and time again to bring invaluable benefits to employees, including: increased creativity, better problem-solving, and greater innovation. Despite these findings, diversity statistics for the technology industry, namely surrounding the inclusion of women, remain dismal. The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), an organization dedicated to spreading awareness of the diversity issue that plagues the industry, reports that women’s representation in tech has been steadily declining from its 1991 peak of 36% to its present day rate of 25%. This statistic is especially troubling given another fact presented in NCWIT’s 2015 – 2016 comprehensive report: 57% of all professional occupations in the U.S. are held by women (2015).
Upending the Unconscious Bias
If we believe in a tech culture that is open, inclusive, and values-driven, we need to address the many contributing factors to the low numbers of women in tech: job retention and attrition, representation in upper management, access to technical training or mentoring, and non-professional career roadblocks (i.e. harsher judgment of personality, questions about family life, unwanted sexual advances, feeling “stalled” in their careers due to lack of advancement opportunities, etc.).
The Atlantic‘s April 2017 issue also explores the unsettling phenomenon of declining women in tech, putting the heavily tech-saturated Silicon Valley under the microscope. In her article “Why is Silicon Valley So Awful to Women?” Liza Mundy ambitiously tackles addressing the elephant in the room that most women who work in tech are well-acquainted with: the unconscious bias.
Melinda Gates, prominent industry veteran and advocate of championing women’s contributions to tech, expands on this bias in a related Atlantic article, “The Tech Industry Needs to Fix its Gender Issue – Now.” Gates discusses the dangers consumers, and average citizens, could encounter if the tech industry continued to avoid systemically improving the diversity quotient: “I think we’ll have so much hidden bias coded into the system that we won’t even realize all the places that we have it. If you don’t have a diverse workforce programming artificial intelligence and thinking about the data sets to feed in, and how to look at a particular program, you’re going to have so much bias in the system, you’re going to have a hard time rolling it back later or taking it out.”
Ultimately, the pervasive bias ends up influencing recruitment practices, upper management demographics, company culture, and overall approach to diversity within an organization. It doesn’t simply affect day-to-day interactions in the workplace, or inconsequential aspects of company culture, but has power to significantly affect the decision-maker hierarchy, quality of innovations, and overall culture of the tech industry for decades to come.
The bias may not be able to change overnight, but acknowledging its existence and addressing the resulting challenges head-on will get the ball rolling. Cultural shifts are necessary and constant, paving the way for a more equal, more values-driven culture. However, the responsibility for making these shifts cannot rest solely on the shoulders of one group or gender.
Every individual working in the tech industry, regardless of gender, ethnicity or position, needs to make a conscious and systemic effort towards cultural improvement.
Join the conversation with us May 31st to delve deeper into ways you can take action and help facilitate success. Hear best practices organizations are using to establish a values-driven culture and attract/retain emotionally intelligent talent.
Author: Amy Drozdiak, Intern at Moxie Marketing
Cited Sources – To view the full statistical reports and articles cited, please visit the following links:
Human-centered design (HCD) is the not-so-radical idea that technology should be designed for the people using it. As big fans of HCD, Women Speak Tech was excited to arrange our March meetup around the subject. Nearly 50 curious minds gathered in Heroku’s SOMA penthouse for snacks, drinks and a collaborative discussion led by an expert panel: Kathleen Simpson, Product Manager at Heroku; Tatyana Mamut, Head Product Manager at AWS; Mike Talvensaari, VP Product at Wowza Media Systems; and moderator Shyvee Shi, Digital Strategist and Experience Designer at Deloitte Digital.
Mamut kicked off the conversation. “Human-centered design starts with the people who are actually going to be using this thing, interacting with this thing, or a part of this thing,” she said. “You design from the place of, ‘What is the experience of these people going to be?’ as opposed to ‘What is my business goal? What is my business strategy? What is the competition doing?'”
Simpson agreed, and pointed out that while we’re constantly asking ourselves questions as we create new technologies, we can’t forget the most important question of all: “Are these really the questions the user is thinking of?”
While few industries take pleasure in highlighting their failures, everyone agreed that for HCD to work, organizational structures themselves had to be failure-friendly. After all, if the design process itself doesn’t make allowances for experimentation, weird hunches, new information and different ways of seeing old information, it’s not HCD. “You get into this mindset that every A/B test should be better than the last one, but it’s not always like that,” Talvensaari said, prompting a chorus of knowing laughs. “Every time, every failure, is a learning experience.”
Of course, a design from the greatest, best, most HCD-focused team ever won’t see the light of day without a sign-off from upper management. Shi reminded everyone, “We emphasize empathizing with the customer, but we can’t forget to empathize with stakeholders.” And then, of course, true HCD also finds a way to empathize with the population at large, and to hold true to a notion that these technologies serve a greater good: “We need to be passionate about our users and champion the voice of the customer,” Shi said. “But we also need to lead change and challenge the status quo.”
Thanks all for a great event last night (3/30)! Much thanks to our sponsor, Heroku and our panelists.
Our spotlighted guests included:
- Kathleen Simpson, Product Manager at Heroku
- Tatyana Mamut, GM & Head of Product at AWS
- Mike Talvensaari, VP Product and User Experience at Wowza Media
- Shyvee Shi, Digital Strategist & Experience Designer at Deloitte Digital
“I am the Intrepreneur who is really passionate about incorporating human-centered design elements to actionably transform next-generation change management best practices.” — Shyvee Shi
We talked about :
- what is human-centered design, and why is it important to you
- why you want to employ human-centered design in your product/solution development, marketing operations, and technology on-boarding
- ways to adopt human-centered design in your organization today simply and effectively
At tonight’s San Francisco Women Speak Tech Speak-up and Meet-up at the Heroku Penthouse, we’ll explore the impact of human-centered design, and how adopting a user-centered, empathy-driven approach creates an incredible competitive advantage for businesses that are able to reap the rewards of this ideology through-out the customer experience. Everything from the moment a prospective customer considers related products and services through to purchase, support, brand loyalty and advocacy is all part of the customer experience. The customer experience makes or breaks your Net Promoter Score (NPS) and directly impacts revenue growth.
1. Design for Humans
Human-centered design (HCD) is defined by its iterative design process where the cycle both begins and ends with the user experience. The starting point of HCD creation is to develop an understanding of user needs, insights, and behaviors through observation or research. Using this basis, a human-centric design can be generated. Once this design is tested, user feedback can be assessed and incorporated into the next iteration of design. The cycle continues—continually seeking to meet current needs and optimize the user experience.
2. Promote an agile, adaptive culture that embraces change and a fail early, fast attitude.
Adapting program designs to become human-centric is a strategic process as much as any other implementation. It should be acknowledged that implementing human-centered design, where it doesn’t already exist, demands change management. In today’s digital world, design thinking is fraught with complexity, ambiguity, and change. Changes in user design preferences and expectations are inevitable, and should be accepted as such. Organizations need to implement change management strategies to be successful in adapting to human-centered design thinking.
3. Customer Experience Depends on Two-Way Multichannel Communications
Taking actions like creating channels for open dialogue with your users and implementers for feedback will help your organization to embrace the nature of continuous change in its user design endeavors. Build a tolerance for early failure and continual testing into your cultural DNA. Customers decide where and when to engage with your brand so be there: be multichannel and create relationships, not one way blasts of information.
Continue the discussion with us, Thursday, March 30th! Register for this Women Speak Tech event here.
“In my mind, I’ve always been an A-list Hollywood superstar. Y’all just didn’t know yet.” — Will Smith
What great fun it was to meet in Hollywood at the Lost Property Bar, Wednesday night pre-conference and snack on some yummy flatbread pizzas and enjoy libations courtesy of IO Integration.
The conversation was a bit rowdy among the superpowers! We converged with Big Picture Thinkers, Transformers, Listeners, Catalysts, a few Puzzle Solvers and Muses to exchange views on how to
- use DAM with an existing Social platform Unanimously folks agreed that since DAM is the source of truth of your digital assets your workflows within your information ecosphere would benefit greatly from the continuity of DAM and Socials joined forces. Furthermore bringing insights and analytics back into the DAM from Social and applying to assets provides new reporting opportunities and insights.
- simplify requirements to motivate content ingest and tag later. So often a new system goes in and there are lots of requirements, restrictions and a perception of adding more work to my day job. We chatted about the division of creative playgrounds and structure. How to marry the two. No collective decision on one right way was reached. However thoughts and questions were flying about. Following on Day 2 of Henry Stewart, Sharon Davis shared insights on how Pixar empowers creativity garnering positive results. Highlights were her team’s clean up tactics and a nifty script Pixar’s Tool team wrote that identifies like keywords in the system and simlpifyies data clean up efforts keeping the heavy lifting to a few while giving the many power to add value to the platform.
- pro-actively know your users to create and acknowledge success. An ongoing topic of conversation is about how best to balance pulling requirements versus educating constituents. We continue to hear that user education along with executing pro-active solutions have better results than just taking requirements and handing over what has been asked for. Knowing what is important to the users gets to understanding what they do, how they do it (not just a process flow. sitting down and watching how they do it, or taking a screen scrape), and what their deliverables are. How do you find the right balance between collecting input and mentoring forward? The folks agreed hiring SMEs, organization commitment and budget are key. Many stated that acknowledgment of small accomplishments and empathy go a long way. More on this later!
What is your superpower?
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