Pivotal Labs fmr Product Lead on Increasing Diversity in Product
Product Diversity: It Starts With Education
When I think about diversity, it’s important to recognize that it goes beyond having equal representation along racial or cultural lines. In other words, you need to have exposure to a diverse collection of ideologies and methodologies to become a more complete person. Furthermore, this ties perfectly into becoming an effective product manager. For example, we have to be experts at balancing a wide range of responsibilities and constituents.
In my case, this learning began at Morehouse College where I earned my bachelor’s degree. For those who aren’t aware, Morehouse is a historically black college. Specifically, this means the majority of the students are non-white. Furthermore, the student body is all-male.
On the surface, you might think this is the last place for diversity to flourish.
Conversely, the opposite is true. For instance, a common stereotype for any one group is that they homogeneously think and operate the same way. However, I discovered that my peers were far more diverse than I would have ever expected.
For example, our Young Republicans student group was featured on CNN. You’d never think that Morehouse would have a Republican group on campus! Plus, we had kids from different economic backgrounds (working class, affluent) – combined with international students from Africa and The Caribbean.
Most importantly, it was the first time that I’d interacted with people of color achieving great things. Growing up in St. Louis, I didn’t have many black role models to look up to in my neighborhood. Furthermore, being at Morehouse represented the first time that many of us weren’t singled out as the “token” black kid.
Ultimately, my experience at Morehouse serves as an example of what happens when you empower kids to achieve. Most importantly, it shows how diversity can manifest itself in beautiful ways that aren’t expected.