SMITH: Product inclusion is a really, really interesting focus. Often, during your product development stage, a lot of the folks creating products are not super diverse. When we look at the population of our country in general, it’s obvious that we are of very diverse backgrounds, thoughts and beliefs.
Our mission is about improving outcomes for students. So, for us, it’s super important that we are able to reach all students. In particular, we have a responsibility to ensure that, when it comes to students who are from traditionally marginalized groups, we are aware they are there, and we are ensuring that our products are inclusive of them.
What we’re doing at GoGuardian is looking at our processes and intentionally building in a product inclusion lens to ensure that we are considering and hearing the voices of other people during the development process. A lot of companies end up missing out on so many different perspectives, but there are ways to build our processes to ensure that doesn’t happen. So, the more that we can focus on building diverse teams internally, the more we will have of those diverse voices.
EDTECH: Do you anticipate that building a diverse team will be challenging given the historic lack of diversity in the tech industry?
SMITH: It is a challenge, but it is absolutely not impossible. We are being intentional and having accountability as part of our processes. When we think about diversity, we’re ensuring that our interviewers are tackling unconscious biases and being really open and transparent. And we’re ensuring we are in places that maybe a lot of tech companies aren’t tapping into: historically Black colleges and universities, women’s colleges and Hispanic-serving institutions and organizations. We will do our part to be as proactive as possible.
We’re going to be tackling this from two angles, definitely on the recruiting side, but also ensuring that when employees are here, they get development opportunities and opportunities to grow in their roles.
One of the reasons I was really interested in this role with GoGuardian as chief diversity officer is the fact that we are looking at diversity, equity and inclusion internally and externally. This role will focus on ensuring that our employees are included and feel like they belong. My theory about that is, when we have a more diverse and inclusive workforce, they will create more inclusive products.