Black Woman Heads Product Inclusion and Equity Team For Google
Major companies have been expanding their efforts with teams focusing on inclusion and equity.
Annie Jean-Baptiste, head of product inclusion and equity at Google, works at the tech company to ensure underrepresented or marginalized users are being considered when building products for the mass market. With a focus on internal culture and representation, Jean-Baptiste reportedly started her role in product inclusion and equity around six years ago with 20% ownership of the project.
According to an interview with McKinsey & Co., the tech giant’s product inclusion and equity leader explains that the team focuses on a mixture of business, product, diversity, equity, and inclusion. After kicking off a few projects, the ideas expanded to a full team committed to including billions of users worldwide from various races, genders, socioeconomic statuses, and languages.
“At the core of it, product inclusion and equity are about making people feel seen.”
“When they pick up a product or use a service or piece of technology, they feel like they were thought of when it was created. They feel like the different things that make them them were part of the design and development process. This leads to tech doing what it’s intended to do: amplify people’s lives and make them richer.”
Jean-Baptiste believes outcomes for everyone are more productive when involving historically marginalized groups. She shares the importance for individuals who’ve historically been excluded from the center of development and design to become involved in the process. She recalls a teammate who once told her, “If you’re talking about ‘them,’ there had better be some ‘theys’ in the room.”
“At Google, we use OKRs [objectives and key results], and we have OKRs around product inclusion and equity up to the company level.”
“Our team has human-centric metrics around aspects like customer satisfaction, sentiment, and daily active users,” Jean-Baptiste says.
She shares her view on the significance of receiving different perspectives, and how even being a Black woman, she still does not represent all Black women.
“I don’t represent everyone around the world,” says Jean-Baptise. “So how do I get those different perspectives in?”
“I identify as a Black woman, but I don’t represent all Black women.”
“So how do we make sure that 1) we’re not pegging communities as a monolith and 2) we’re getting those potentially historically marginalized perspectives into our product design and development process?”
Recognition is an important mechanism for the tech giant’s commitment to furthering product inclusion and equity.
“At Google, we have what we call “inclusion champions”: thousands of Googlers from historically marginalized backgrounds who are testing our products and providing feedback all the time,” she informs.
“Here, it’s about one, making sure that this work is genuinely optional and two, recognizing these people and rewarding them for those lived experiences and perspectives that they’re bringing to the table,” Jean-Baptiste adds.