Diversity In Product: Making It Happen
Pivotal Labs fmr Product Lead on Increasing Diversity in Product (Part 3)
It’s one thing to talk about diversity in product – it’s quite another to actually do something about making it a reality. Beyond my day-to-day business responsibilities, I make sure to prioritize engaging with under-represented communities to open new opportunities in product for more people.
As I mentioned previously, one of the “diversity challenges” that many companies cite is the talent pipeline. Specifically, they reference the fact that the profile of most candidates is mostly white men. However, there are many ways for people like me to change this.
For example, I work with many groups that expose under-represented youth to opportunities in the tech world.
Often times, kids from these social backgrounds have no idea about what it means to work in tech. Most importantly, they’ve never been approached by someone like me who’s working as a product leader. Even before I got to the west coast, I worked with the “emerging 100” in Atlanta during my college days. Specifically, this initiative targets high school kids and gets them thinking about tech opportunities at a young age.
Since moving to the west coast, I stay very close to my community at UCLA – where I received my MBA. Following my graduation, I’m still very active with on-campus activities that promote diversity on campus. Just recently, we hosted an “embracing diversity” conference that brought together students from under-represented communities around the world. Specifically, we focus on how to get more young people into tech and also how to leverage their talents to get into business school.
Finally, it’s important to give people in under-represented communities as much time to be “hands on” with product opportunities as possible. For example, Pivotal Labs would participate in open boot camps that would enable high school entrepreneurs to get VC funding. In addition, I continue to work with an organization called “The Last Mile” – which provides coaching for prisoners. Specifically, this initiative provides a roadmap for getting jobs once their sentences conclude.
Ultimately, making diversity work in the tech world goes further than pronouncements and lip service. In the end, it’s up to us to make an impact by taking action and bringing more people into the fold.