Penelope Rance

My UX research & design ramblings

UXPA - Diversity in UX

This month’s UXPA event was looking at Diversity in UX.

There have been several reports recently showing that more diverse teams are more successful, but how do you create a diverse team if you do not have one already?

Jayde-Olivia Sandy and Dan Healy joined us to try and give us some tips to take our teams forward.

Jayde-Olivia began with a talk called Encouraging Diverse Voices in the UX Industry.

She started by telling us how in most of her jobs she had been the only black person in the company and it was only when she joined the diverse team at NOW TV that she finally felt like she could be herself at work and finally had colleagues she could relate to.

She reminded us that there are many different types of diversity and they should not all be grouped together, as each type will need a slightly different approach.

Jayde-Olivia focuses on black women in design, and so all the resources she shared were focused on this group.

Her first point was that being in a company that is trying to make changes, even if it is not perfect yet, can make you feel better, just knowing they care.

To find diverse talent, you have to post and look in the right places. It is no good just sharing roles on your white male network. She then shared a selection of networks that she is part of where you can share jobs.

But even if you get the jobs in front of the right people, you then need them to apply for the role.

Firstly she suggested making sure your website and LinkedIn show a diverse range of people. Someone scrolling LinkedIn will be thinking ‘Would I feel comfortable working there?’

Make sure you offer fair pay, black women are known to be underpaid.

If they do apply but that person is not right for you, offer constructive feedback which can help them in their next application.

But also have an open mind. They might not have the support to create an amazing CV or portfolio. You should be looking for their potential, maybe they just need the right guide.

Great, now you have hired someone, you need to keep them.

You need to be transparent about how they can progress, and make sure they have equal opportunities to be seen, grow and learn.

Did you know black people often remain in junior roles for longer due to a lack of confidence or because they are overlooked?

If your team has issues around lack of diversity, have those difficult conversations to see how it can be improved.

And create opportunities that allow people to celebrate and share their culture.

Lastly, be an ally. Speak up if you see things that are not right, like unequal pay or people being passed over for opportunities. Advocate for them!

Remember black designers are just designers. They just want to go to work and do their work like everyone else.

Then Dan spoke on Designing a Diverse Team.

He has grown his team during the pandemic, and he has been very careful in his approach.

The first thing he thinks we should do is work out what skills gaps the current team has, otherwise we just end up hiring the same people.

To do this he uses Rock, Tree, Heart, Star. These are the questions he asked his team when he joined it, before starting to think about hiring.

What is your foundation - what can you do with your eyes closed?

Where are you growing?

What do you love, your passion?

What do you do better than anyone else?

From the answers his team gave, he could then work out what gaps and opportunities he had. It also means that he can make sure people are working on projects that do not just use the skills they are good at, but also give them satisfaction.

While Jayde-Olivia was focused on black women in design, Dan is more focused on cognitive diversity.

This means you should be looking for people who have a different educational background and might have learnt their skills in different ways. Do they really need a degree?

He also warned us of the perils of design tests, where we may end up screening out all the best people!

Make sure you are clear about the salary and that you are open to non traditional backgrounds in the job ad.

Find yourself a good recruiter, think beyond geography and check your biases.

Just as Jayde-Olivia said, be open to someone’s potential and make sure your HR systems are not a barrier.

So although it might take some work to get set up, it should not be impossible to make your team more diverse if you want it to be. Remember great things happen when teams are not just diverse but happy and working well together.

This was a great event filled with actionable advice, from people actually working on these problems right now. Thanks to both Jayde-Olivia and Dan for taking the time to speak to us.

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