The Women of Silicon Roundabout Conference was created for its participants to share how technology can help improve the world. This year, the factor connecting technology in development to the people using it, was inclusive design driven by trust. Focusing on how trust can be built by building relationships with clients, colleagues and ensuring technology is more accessible and inclusive than it ever has been. It’s clearly a hot topic and we asked Jess Wakelin from our digital learning team to tell us all about it. Here she shares her three key observations about the future of technology and inclusion:
1. ) Inclusivity in tech is in need of improvement...
A recurring theme throughout the event, summed up well by Ruth Sleeter, was that “when technology is not inclusive, there are real ramifications.” Technology takes its lead from those developing it, so when that process isn’t inclusive it’s extremely unlikely the final product will be - especially where AI and automation are concerned.
It’s not always obvious that we’re adding bias and once discovered it’s not so simple to fix. For example, many companies these days use recruiting tools to scan CV’s and uncover top talent. However, it has been shown that these tools if not programmed to remove the element of unconscious bias, can consciously bias against some groups. And it’s not as simple as removing gender from these tools when even some verbs and key phrases highly correlate female versus male.
2.) Inclusive design is here, and it’s key to challenging bias in technology
Both developers and end-users are constantly feeding data into a network of connected devices - predicted to reach an estimated 40 billion devices by 2020 - so if everyone is bringing their own biases to this network, does the network itself become biased too? The answer, unfortunately, is yes, but with an increased focus on inclusive design at this year’s conference, there is confidence that bias in technology can be counteracted or even pre-empted entirely.
By making use of techniques such as design thinking, holistic and inclusive approaches, teams and businesses can strive to create better products and better experiences. Why? Well, because arguably a more diverse and inclusive team would create design potentially relying on direct personal experience and their own understanding.
3.) How can you add inclusivity into design?
In the tech space, we are making great efforts to continually debate, innovate and expand inclusion in products and respond to the needs of employees, customers, investors and the wider world.
Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is now being seen as a business priority. People are more likely to engage and contribute ideas if they feel able to, and that inclusion boosts performance. If you’re looking to improve motivation, innovation and ideas the key part goes back to trust.
There are fundamental changes to development processes that need to be implemented from start to finish. Primary among them is introducing more diversity to the teams creating tech, and having increased access to different kinds of culture, gender, ethnicity that are ultimately going to make up the vast array of end-users. At Media Zoo, we want to guide design and user experience to improve experiences across the companies we work with. Going forward we will be asking how we can push the boundaries for our clients from a UX perspective and encourage them to start being more aware of accessibility and inclusion that accounts for more than just the race and gender representation that should be a standard across industries.
In order to achieve a truly inclusive design, Rachel Botsman summed it up brilliantly at the conference: “The real disruption happening is not about technology, it’s a profound shift in the way we think about trust”.
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