Why Ethical and Inclusive Tech Products Are Important
As more and more people use technology in their everyday lives for work, school, and social engagement, tech products need to address the needs of everyone, including people of color, women, various age groups, and lower income families, among others. Ethical and inclusive products in the tech industry are essential to tap into more diverse markets an expand the economy. In addition, incorporating many different perspectives during the design process allows for improved, more effective products overall.
There is a tremendous opportunity for tech companies to close the digital divide by ensuring their products are more accessible to markets who wouldn’t otherwise use them. Larger, reputable companies with specific departments dedicated to creating ethical and inclusive products like Salesforce, Google, and Apple have positioned themselves for growth in this area. Presence of these departments also communicates to the rest of the tech community, and society, that ethics and inclusion is a priority. Since these companies have such a strong presence and deliver products across multiple markets, they have a moral responsibility to design those products for everyone and exemplify best practices.
It’s also good for business. Why? Economically, when underrepresented groups fall behind, it affects the whole population. The result is lower productivity from underskilled people and a reduction of purchasing power to investment into the economy. More accessible, inclusively designed products that address education, healthcare, and skill building increase the chances that individuals, families, and communities will lift themselves out of poverty.
Not only are ethical and inclusive tech products good for the economy, but they also make people feel seen and heard. Involving perspectives from people from different socioeconomic groups, cultures, and overall life experiences into the design process increases empathy and a sense of belonging. A design team that seeks to understand someone else’s pain points and their joys with thoughtful questions and deep listening brings people together. It also enables minority groups to provide a meaningful contribution, resulting in improved products that address real world needs. People feel better when they know someone is listening. When people feel better, it positively affects everyone around them. Technology can contribute to progress when informed designers who incorporate the feedback of their diverse end users are at the helm.
Weaving responsible and ethical practices into the fabric of a company ultimately reflects that company’s products, resulting increased marketshare. A product designed for one population is often used by others outside of that group. For example, apps built for accessibility like dictation and closed captioning help the visually and hearing impaired but are also used by people outside of those groups. A well-designed, inclusive tech product will ultimately be a better product that truly benefits more people.
Tech companies that prioritize diversity and inclusion set a positive precedent for the whole tech industry. Other companies both large, medium, and small will likely follow suit and prioritize inclusive practices in their own product design processes, which will help the economy and improve people’s lives in all communities.