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Navigating Diversity in UX


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2018 was plagued with more than a few insensitive social missteps. Like many of you, I viewed commercials, articles, news stories and advertisements wondering HOW DID THAT HAPPEN? How could they be so insensitive? But a quick perusal of the headshots usually uncovers the unfortunate “how”. To put it simply, there is a lack of diversity at the proverbial table and many are ignorant to the far reaching effects of their decisions. The obvious solution is to identify ways to bring awareness to the organizations, but where does that awareness come from? Where does the diversity of thought come from? While we’re thinking through it, what does diversity really mean? How do we prevent prevent similar missteps in the future? Join me to learn how I’ve overcome a lack of diversity in my professional life and how to apply my learnings to your career and organization

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Navigating Diversity in UX

  1. 1. Navigating Diversity in UX
  2. 2. Beforewe begin…  Who am I?  Researcher, Design Thinking Facilitator, Mentor, Mother  Co-Founder of Dallas Black UX  Director of Design Thinking @ Usability Sciences – Dallas, Texas
  3. 3. Disclaimer  This topic causes anxiety, anger, hurt feelings or trauma  We are not going to debate the cause of discrimination in UX, but I’m happy to talk later  I will take questions at the end of presentation  The views I share are mine and do not represent any of my employers  Findings & recommendations apply in the workplace, professional organizations, conferences, and maybe your life
  4. 4. IDIDNOTwant to dothistalk!  Equality for women passed in 1920  Desegregation passed in 1954  Discrimination outlawed in 1967
  5. 5. But…  Unconscious bias is real  Self-preservation is real  Ignorance is bliss  Empathy is not innate  Sympathy is not empathy  Intellectual property is expensive
  6. 6. It’skindacrazy…  “I don’t know that a woman can handle that group.”  “So and so “is going to present your deck. We don’t want your accent to distract the client.”  “We were the only ones without desks. In fact, they put us all at a table together.”  “We figured you wanted to be at home with your son, so we didn’t bother you with it.”  “I know for a fact, my co-worker makes about $20k less than me, and I feel really bad about it.”  “Are you married to your dreads? Would you be willing to cut them off if you get this job?  “I’m looking for someone who won’t push back. Someone who will just take orders. Someone Asian.”  “Don’t be so defensive!”  “Am I the only straight person at this table?”
  7. 7. Diversityprograms arecommonfor goodreason… Almost every Fortune 100 large company in the U.S. has a diversity program  Attracts high quality candidates  Produce higher returns  Are more innovative  Increase job satisfaction  Have a deeper understanding of its customers  Strengthens the company brand
  8. 8. Diversityistheartofthinkingindependentlytogether Backgrounds Education Experiences Cultures Perspectives Life-Styles AgeSkillsets Motivations Passions Workstyles Marital StatusGeographic Location Status/ Rank Personality Types Abilities Race/ Ethnicity Sight Gender Ability
  9. 9. Diversityisnot… Compliance Tolerance Sensitivity Special treatment for some people Ethnic food celebrations DiversityisNOT…
  10. 10. Diversity means nothing without INCLUSION “But simply throwing a mix of people together doesn’t guarantee high performance; it requires inclusive leadership — leadership that assures that all team members feel they are treated respectfully and fairly, are valued and sense that they belong, and are confident and inspired.”
  11. 11. Organizations haveto…  Attract  Retain  Protect
  12. 12. Attractthe BestTalent  Cast a wider net when recruiting  Referrals are good, but don’t load up your team or leadership with a bunch of “friends”  Hire based on talent first, values second, “fit” last  If you aren’t attracting diverse talent, figure out why  Company or organizational reputation  Lack of diversity at the table  Recruiting practices  Interviewing practices  Connect with affinity groups
  13. 13. Retainthe BestTalent  Set clear, consistent expectations  Evaluate EVERYONE accordingly  Respect their expertise/ skillset  Watch out for disassociation  Develop and grow individuals as well as the team  Let people be themselves
  14. 14. Cultivate& Protecta diverse andinclusive culture  Cultivate interpersonal relationships  Watch out for and address click-ish, non-inclusive behaviors  Encourage self-expression  If you see something, say something
  15. 15. For those who have or will feel left out or discriminated against…
  16. 16. Beingyourself oftenrequires coping mechanisms  Be self-aware but not self- conscious  Assess the situation  Build a support system  Know when it’s time to leave
  17. 17. Selfaware,not selfconscious  Your fears can taint your perception and WILL become your reality  You don’t need permission to be yourself  Never give your voice away  Constantly assess your skillset and grow however and whenever possible
  18. 18. Assessthe situation  Is this person ignorant or malicious?  Is this a pattern?  Is this particular issue worth acknowledging or documenting?
  19. 19. Builda supportsystem  Mentors who share experience and can help navigate your career  Can be inside or outside your organization  Proceed with caution  Professional groups
  20. 20. Knowwhenit’s timeto leave  Sometimes the battle is not worth fighting or becomes too toxic  Intentionally build your network  Protect your brand  Continuously update your portfolio  Don’t burn bridges
  21. 21. Questions? @UX_Storyteller Adrienne Guillory Usability Sciences CONNECT