In today’s modern work environment, organizations are becoming more aware of their role in promoting diversity, both internally and externally. There is a growing body of research that suggests diverse teams produce better results than homogeneous ones. In the tech world specifically, it’s no secret that the industry is not very inclusive of women or people of color. We know that diverse perspectives help drive innovation and lead to better products. But how does this apply to product management? If you want to create innovative products, hire a diverse team. It will make a significant difference in how your team operates as well as what they deliver to your customers.
Why you should care about diversity in product management
There are many reasons why organizations are trying to become more inclusive, and why individuals want to work in more diverse environments. The most important reason is that people will be more engaged at work when their unique strengths, skills, and perspectives are recognized and cultivated. There will be better collaboration, innovation, and productivity. There will be less conflict, less bias, and more creativity. This will result in higher customer satisfaction and retention rates, better recruiting, and an improved organization-wide culture. There are also financial benefits to diversity. Studies suggest that more inclusive companies have higher stock returns; and companies with high numbers of women on their boards have higher financial returns than companies with low numbers of women on their boards.
Who is included in the idea of diversity in product management?
There is no one way of looking at diversity. It can encompass many aspects of a person’s identity, including gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, education level, and more. Diversity is important in any type of organization, but especially in product management roles, where: - You are creating something new and innovative, which requires a great deal of creativity. - You are deciding which features and product improvements to prioritize, which requires analytical thinking. - You are guiding your team members to achieve the best results, which requires empathy. - You are deciding how to market the product to your customers, which requires strategic thinking. - You are overseeing the entire product development process from start to finish, which requires organizational skills.
Why having a diverse team is Important in Product Management
The creation of new products and services is a messy and often unpredictable process. In the best-case scenario, there will be some missteps along the way (which is normal). In the worst-case scenario, there could be costly missteps that lead to a significant loss of time and money. As product managers, we want to do everything we can to minimize the risk of costly mistakes. And one way we can do that is by creating a diverse team. - You will have more creativity. Creativity is essential to landing on innovative solutions to problems. It is important when brainstorming ideas for new products, or for improving your existing products by identifying customer needs and coming up with ideas for how to address those needs. The best way to encourage creativity is to create an environment where people feel safe to express themselves and challenge the status quo. Diversity can help create that type of environment because people from different backgrounds will have different perspectives to contribute. - You will bring more perspectives to the table. Product management is a collaborative field, as you will be working with many different people throughout your product development process. The more perspectives you have at the table, the greater your chances are of finding the best solutions to problems. - You will be more empathetic. Empathy is necessary to understand your customers and their pain points. It helps you make more informed decisions, and it shows in your product team’s work. - You will reduce bias in your decision-making. Studies show that bias can creep into our decision-making, even if we don’t realize it. Having a diverse team will help reduce bias in your decision-making by bringing in different perspectives.
What does a diverse team look like in Product Management?
Diversity is not a one-time thing where you hire a couple of people from different backgrounds, pat yourself on the back, and say, “We’re done!” When you bring people from different backgrounds onto your team, you have to create an environment where they feel comfortable and can thrive. That means ensuring you have the right structures in place to support your team members. - Have an inclusive hiring process. Your hiring process should actively seek out and attract candidates from diverse backgrounds. Don’t rely on job boards or your networks. Instead, reach out to people who may not be on the job boards and/or who may be in your networks, but may not be in your networks. - Make sure you have diverse mentors. If you’re an organization that has mentors, make sure they are including people from diverse backgrounds in their mentoring relationships. Mentors can help their mentees navigate the tricky waters of product management. Mentors can also provide different perspectives that may help you make better decisions. - Keep an eye on your numbers. You might not be able to hire large numbers of people from diverse backgrounds at once. But you can keep good track of your progress. At regular intervals, review your team’s demographics and compare it to your hiring goals. What can you do to help move the numbers in the right direction?
How to build a diverse team in Product Management
Given everything you now know about the importance of diversity, you may be wondering how to go about bringing a more diverse team into your organization. First, you should be aware of your current makeup. You can do this by reviewing the demographics of your team members. It’s a good idea to keep track of this on an ongoing basis so that you can make sure you are making progress. If you feel like your team lacks diversity, you have a couple of options: - Make sure you are hiring for a wide range of roles. You can’t just be hiring product managers. You need designers, engineers, marketing specialists, and more. - Have open hiring processes. Don’t make your hiring processes super selective. Instead, be open to a variety of different backgrounds and skill sets.
Diversity can be a very intimidating topic. People may feel as though they don’t know where to start, or they may feel as though they don’t know what they don’t know. This article has given you some of the basic ideas about what diversity is and why it is important in product management. It has also provided some examples of how you can bring more diversity onto your team. Now, it is up to you to take these ideas and apply them to your specific situation. You can’t just read an article and expect to magically have a more diverse team. You have to put in the work.