Technology is changing the world around us at an unprecedented rate. From 3D printing of organs to AI-powered grocery stores, technological advances are making incredible things possible. But what happens to technology when diverse voices and experiences aren’t represented at the design table?
At the OpenText™ Women in Technology Summit at Enterprise World 2018, this was a prominent topic among our speakers—and especially important to Jodi Kovitz, Founder & CEO of #MovetheDial. One of Jodi’s fears about technology is that no one person can bring diversity of thought to a problem without other diversity at the table. Aside from being a good business practice and morally responsible, diversity is important in technology development because without it, bias can be embedded into technology—and can be difficult for machines to unlearn.
Diverse teams lead to better tech
The more diverse our teams are, the more likely it is that our technology will reflect the dynamic population that we’re serving. Over the past few years, we have seen many examples of technology with implicit bias built into it—remember the soap dispensers that only recognized certain skin tones, or photo recognition software mislabeling people of color? These are prime examples of technology that does not serve the dynamic population.
“The more diverse our teams are, the more likely it is that our technology will reflect the dynamic population that we’re serving,” says Jodi. “And I believe that if we have more women at the design table… we can optimize the technology solutions that we’re building for the entire population—not just half of it.”
According to Julie Millard, Senior Director of CSR & Communications at OpenText, we need all voices at the table to take our technology and innovation where we want to go.
“Take the example of building a health or fitness tracker. If you’re only using standards of men’s health in the development, it’s not going to be applicable to everyone,” says Julie. “Throughout the entire design process, input has to come from all sectors of society and people. Customers represent a wide variety of people around the globe, so to produce better products for all customers, they need to be represented at all stages of a product’s lifecycle.”
By giving critical thought to who is at the table when technology is being developed, we can ensure that diverse perspectives are included, and we can create technology that meets the needs of our population. In other words, we can make diversity the norm in technology.
Hear more from Julie in this video interview, where she talks about current D&I trends in the industry, the importance of making technology that works for everyone, and how OpenText is working towards gender equity for its employees and everyone in the technology industry.