We’re living in systems of design, content, and technology. These systems have a considerable impact on our everyday lives. The importance that these systems are created with everyone in mind, becomes increasingly important as the impact of tech continues to grow. If we want to build inclusive, diverse systems that are conscious of different people’s needs, abilities and cultures – we need teams who can actually represent these different backgrounds.

As the [currently] only non-male, queer member of the Ngrane team, I was happy to see so many different people present at The Next Web Conference ‘22. It was especially great to see how many talks were devoted to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). I think the world of tech is heading in the right direction.

Still, a question arises when discussing the subject: why is it important for diverse groups to enter, remain and excel in the tech industry?

As mentioned before, if we want to design technological systems for everyone, we need diverse, inclusive teams. Who else but a woman will know how women interact with tech? Who else but a person with one hand will know how people with one hand interact with tech? Who else but a visually impaired person will know how they interact with tech? You get the point.

If we want to create systems that are accessible for everyone, we need as many perspectives as possible to build them. Instead of focusing on the mass, designers should focus on creating a world that’s accessible. In doing so, it will benefit the mass as well. Moreover; it will make a service or product more accessible for everyone.

“When we design products and services that are more inclusive and accessible, it also improves our offering for the non minorities.” – Jitesh Pujari

For example, take subtitles. Subtitles were originally designed to bridge the gap between spoken word and intertitles, aiding the hearing impaired understand the film. Now, subtitles are used by many and study even shows that subtitles improve learning and understanding.

When designing, something should be brilliantly easy in order to work for everyone.

Data on diversity

Gillian Tans, founder of Diversity Hero, spoke about the lack of information and data about diversity and inclusion within the European tech industry. What can’t be measured, can’t be managed.

To tackle that problem, Diversity Hero made a benchmark report with impactful data, to help corporate executives create solutions to accelerate greater diversity and inclusion. They found that collecting information about diversity and inclusion is not easy. Not many companies are collecting data, don’t know how to, or aren’t ready to share their data. This is why it’s important to put someone in place who is responsible for DEI within your company.

It’s important to take ownership of diversity, equity and inclusion. Making this mission visible will help change the world.

So, how should we move forward? 

One of the most important takeaways from the benchmark report from Diversity Hero is that there’s still a lot of work to be done. There is a need for more data and information on DEI, more diversity in people who actually work in the industry, and brilliantly easy design for everyone. DEI and inclusive design shouldn’t feel like an afterthought, it should be embedded in every step of the way. By including more and more perspectives, more and more background, and more and more minorities – we can redefine the world and make it better.

As Maxine Williams, Chief Diversity Office at Meta, said at her talk:

“We can put diversity, equity, inclusion and representation at the center of what we will build and how we will build it.” 

Because we are the ones building it. We can make that happen.

Let’s be relevant for everyone.