Bringing inclusivity into projects from the beginning

Alley recently kicked off a new project with the American Alliance of Museums, an organization with which we’ve worked many times before. This project’s goal was to create an inclusive and accessible portal to match museums and board members. Museums and board members could match based on goals, interests, and missions.

One of the most important factors in the creation of this portal was its inclusivity. AAM wanted museums and candidates alike to enjoy a transparent, open matching process. This minimizes bias and creates the best outcomes for the new board seats. We wanted to ensure that that same inclusivity and transparency factored in the entire process, starting with the kickoff.

Like accessibility, inclusivity is something that every project should have from the beginning. It should not be an afterthought, but rather a vital piece of the workflow, to have the largest effect on the final product. Too often, technology products suffer from bias built in by the very nature of those involved in their creation. We aim to avoid that trap for every project we work on.

We made the kickoff for this project as inclusive as we could, in many ways. First, we invited a broad group from the client (and from Alley) to bring many diverse perspectives into the workshop. This included AAM’s President and CEO, their DEAI department, a Facing Change Senior Diversity Fellow, a board candidate, and a team from Big Answers (consultants on the board matching process).

The workshop took place over the course of two days, with time between to process individually,  which allowed for more opportunities for people to make their voices heard and bring more inclusivity into the project. Scheduling, although it may seem rote, is actually a big part of inclusivity, especially in a semi-remote work environment. You need to make sure that people aren’t restricted from events just because of where they’re located. The two day structure also allowed for “homework” in session and after  creating individual drafts of the Product Vision Statement and sketching out a wireframe for the homepage.

The Product Vision Statement is an overview of the goals of the project and the most important pieces of it. By doing this work outside of the meeting , it allowed for many to take the time they needed to think about the assignment. Those who might feel uncomfortable sharing spontaneously in a group setting could still take part in the discussion. There were many ways to participate – open discussion, Zoom chat, and collaborative whiteboards with Google Jamboard. Writing the statements also lifted the burden on introverts or others who would rather not speak or present in a large group.

This was only the beginning of the project, and we’re excited to continue the work. We will continue to bring inclusivity and transparency of purpose and perspectives throughout the process. Stay tuned as the work goes on, as we can share further tactics over the coming months.

How are you bringing inclusivity into projects – not only into your products, but into your process? Let us know on Twitter, or reach out anytime if you’re interested in learning more!

Inclusivity and transparency are essential for product creation and critical for hiring. Check out our post on 3 People-First Principles for Making your Hiring Process Transparent and Equitable.