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Inclusion, In the Trenches of Product Development

Does your company have one? A “Head of Diversity and Inclusion?” Or a “Chief Inclusion Officer” or “VP, Diversity and Inclusion?” Or, our personal favorite, “Global Head, Computational Design and Inclusion?” (This last one is John Maeda’s role at Automattic.)

The titles may vary, but the missions are similar. To make the company more diverse and inclusive. To attract and retain diverse talent. To embrace diversity to drive product innovation and bottom-line business growth.

Awesome. It’s important work. And talented, dedicated people are in these D&I leadership roles across the tech industry.

But here’s the thing. Inclusion is a job for everyone, not only the person with “Inclusion” in their title. There are simple actions anyone can take to create a more inclusive workplace.

Over here at Better Allies, we’re on the prowl for these everyday actions. To learn how to be better allies ourselves, and to share them with our followers.

Needless to say, we were thrilled when we read about the “Inclusion Thing of the Week” initiative at Pivotal Tracker.

As Cody Sehl wrote,

“The way I see it, there are two directions from which change can come: from the top or from the bottom. Changes from the top typically come in the form of new HR policies, training, or declarations for more diversity and inclusion work. Changes from the bottom represent a change in culture at the individual and team level, and a realization that every interaction matters.”

Right on.

And their “Inclusion Thing of the Week” (ITotW) is exactly one of these changes. A change from the bottom designed to impact the team’s culture. Something happening in the trenches of product development, and not by anyone with “Inclusion” in their job title.

What exactly is ITotW?

The goal for ITotW is to change team interactions in small but specific ways to create a more inclusive culture. For example, a team member mentioned that using the word “guys” to address a mixed-gendered group can be exclusionary. This suggestion became their inaugural ITotW. “When addressing a group of people, use something other than ‘guys.’ Try ‘y’all,’ ‘everyone,’ ‘folks,’ ‘friends,’ ‘Romans,’ ‘countrypeople!’”

They announce the ITotW at their daily standup. And they put a tab for it in their build monitor as a reminder throughout the day.

Many thanks to the Tracker team for sharing their best practices for running ITotW.

Check it out. And consider using it in the trenches of product development at your company. To encourage more people to take everyday actions towards inclusion.

Becoming an ally is a journey. Want to join us?

Together, we can — and will — make a difference.