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Inclusive Design: Making Products for Everyone

Episode 056

We have a responsibility in product management to avoid exclusionary solutions and so it is incumbent upon us to learn inclusive design principles. We must learn how to design products that not only intentionally include but avoid unintentionally excluding groups. Sandra Camacho, a multicultural Inclusive Design strategist, educator, and advisor based in Paris, France, joins this episode to discuss inclusive design and share stories, insights, and tips for how we can learn and improve.




Mentioned in the episode: - Join Inclusive Design Jam community - Inclusive Design Academy


Design Justice, Sasha Costanza-Chock

The Wake Up, Michelle MiJung Kim

Connect with Sandra: - Sign up for newsletter

Episode Outline:

  • How Sandra got into the work of social design. 2:11

  • What is inclusive design? How do we define it? 6:53

  • What’s happening in the tech industry in terms of inclusive design. 12:48

  • How does this inclusive design compare to the diversity and inclusion work that’s happening in so many organizations? 17:40

  • Examples of things that have worked really well in inclusive design. 23:31

  • Examples that haven't worked so well. The story of Nike’s Fly Ease shoes. 29:21

  • How can those who aren’t in a marginalized group approach this work in a way that matters? 34:40

Episode Transcript:


design, inclusive, product, people, solutions, equity, called, question, happening, folks, means, creating, bit, inclusion, designers, thinking, shoes, sorts, universal design, tend

Intro (the incomparable Sandra Segrest) 00:03

Welcome to Product Voices, a podcast where we share valuable insights and useful resources. To help us all be great in product management. Visit the show's website to access the resources discussed on the show, find more information on our fabulous guests or to submit your product management question to be answered in our special q&a episodes. That's all at product And be sure to subscribe to the podcast on your favorite platform. Now, here's our host, JJ Rorie, CEO of great product management.

JJ 00:38

Hello, Welcome to Product Voices. I am so excited about our conversation. Today we are talking about inclusive design. It's a topic that's very important and means a lot to me. Although I must admit I'm not necessarily an expert on it. So I'm looking forward to learning from my esteemed guest. So inclusive design is something that is so critical in our product management world, we want to build products accessible to as many people as possible, especially those who have traditionally been excluded from use and access. I believe we have a responsibility in product management to avoid exclusionary solutions. And so it's incumbent upon us to learn inclusive design principles, we must learn how to design products that not only intentionally include, but avoid unintentionally excluding groups. So again, thrilled for this conversation and to be joined by Sandra Camacho. Sandra is a multicultural inclusive design strategist, educator, and advisor based in Paris, France. She's also the founder and lead of inclusive design jam, a global learning community around inclusive and equitable design. She started her career at Google, where she spent eight years working in Product Innovation and Learning and Development in the US and in Europe. She left several years ago to pursue her dreams of designing for social impact under the alias Sandra by Design. Today, she helps product and design teams around the world, build thriving work cultures and socially impactful solutions. Sandra, thank you so much for joining me for this conversation.

Sandra 02:15

Thank you, JJ, for the introduction. I'm excited to dive into the topic.

JJ 02:20

Yes, it's very important. And I'm thrilled to have this conversation with you. So let's start by maybe telling me a bit more about you and how you got into the work. I gave a short bio on you. But I'd love to learn a little bit more about how you got into this work.

Sandra 02:38

Sure. So I would say that there are perhaps a couple of avenues that have driven me toward this work. And I think kind of the first avenue, if I could call it that is it's definitely my own identity and my own experience as someone who has immigrated to two different countries who kind of has to cut across different languages from day to day just based on the basis of where I live and where I come from and where I've grown up. And as a person of color as a woman, I feel that the fact that I've been kind of face to face with buyers and with oppression in different ways informed, I think has really informed my you know, a passion around being able to use design as a vehicle for combating oppression and for combating bias and injustice. So that's kind of more of the kind of personal incentive of, you know, why inclusion, why diversity, why equity, we why these sorts of topics that tie to, to social justice and, and bringing about change in the world. And I would say that part of that is why actually in my undergraduate studies, I do not come from a traditional design background, I actually headed more into the social sciences and the liberal arts. And I studied international relations, but with a focus on politics, culture and identity. So I'd say that a lot of what I'm doing now, it's kind of harkening back to a lot of the work that I did back in my kind of my undergraduate studies to really understand, you know, how do different cultures come together? How do we kind of navigate through political conflicts? How does identity play a role in, you know, how societies are shaped and the sorts of norms that we, we tend to adopt and ascribe to? So, so yeah, so those are kind of all of the personal and maybe academic kind of underpinnings of the work and, and I would say, to kind of, you know, cut my bio a bit short and zoom forward to the present day, like I spent quite a bit of time exploring and practicing human centered design while I was at Google and also through some side projects, and while I was on sabbatical leave where I worked at an NGO And that was kind of my pivotal experience were back in 2017 At this point, so about six years ago, I got the chance to work with teams in the education space, who were looking to create programs or educational programs for refugees, and for asylum seekers. And at that point, I was really thinking of design, or inclusive design, I think through the lens of just social design. And I think that experience helped me to broaden up my view and realize that there are so many other things that we have to take into account. You know, when we're when it comes to designing solutions for marginalized populations, and that means, kind of exploring topics that I mentioned a little bit already, but you know, exploring diversity, equity inclusion, but also thinking about history, thinking about social systems, thinking about how power is distributed in society, and how power can tend to be hoarded by certain groups of people. And, and yeah, that actually eventually led me to go back to school to study social design, and ultimately brought me here, and now where I'm, I'm an independent practitioner doing this work full time, but but I would say, yeah, there's the three avenues really kind of the personal Avenue, my own experience of academic kind of my undergraduate studies, and then doing this work in the humanitarian sector that helped me to see inclusive design, or I should say, social design and or new light, which ultimately steered me towards inclusive design.

JJ 06:30

Yeah, that's amazing, amazing background and perspective. And I can imagine, you know, all of that experience and perspectives and kind of life experiences. And as you said, academic and work experiences can can really be that intersection that drives you here. And I can definitely imagine how passionate you are. So again, why I'm why I'm so excited. We're having this conversation. So, so So let me just kind of get to the basics here to make sure the foundation is set. How do you define inclusive design? I think it's a term that's used a lot, which is great. But I want to make sure that that, you know, listeners and that we all kind of have a foundational definition of what this means what how do you use that term? And how do you define inclusive design?

Sandra 07:16

Yeah, that's a really great question, because actually, at the present moment, you had mentioned in the introduction, that I lead an inclusive design community called the inclusive design, jam. And with a few members of the community, one person in particular, who I'm partnering closely with, we're actually building a starter guide on inclusive design, where we're trying to unpack all the different definitions that exist of inclusive design, because I would say that it can actually be a bit confusing for people, especially if they are starting out with this work to really be able to kind of decipher through the many, many ways that people interpret the word, not just the word inclusive, but even the word design. And so kind of where we're landing, or at least, you know, the sort of point of view that I like to bring to this is I like to really expand the term inclusive, and to make it be much broader and to kind of encompass an ecosystem of social change, meaning that when we're looking to design, whether that's products or services or experiences or environments, in an inclusive way, we're going past just inclusion, which in a traditional sort of way, inclusion means bringing in more types of people into the design process, take into into account perhaps like a richer diversity of experiences and needs, and pain points, when we're designing. And I'm looking to kind of challenge that definition, which a lot of the times tends to be, it tends to overlap a lot with what's called accessible design or universal design, which in part is all about being able to design solutions that are accessible for folks who are, who have a disability, or some sort of cognitive impairment. And so my goal, I think, with the community, and the work that I do is to kind of shift and perhaps maybe reclaim the term inclusive design to open it up to include other sorts of approaches and mindsets and philosophies. And so I kind of alluded to that by talking about equity, which is something that also tends to be a bit misconstrued. People don't necessarily know, you know, what do we mean by equitable, equitable design or equity centered design? And that's where we start to shift a little bit beyond thinking about just designing for more people and including them in the design process, but actually really thinking about the history and the sorts of systems that we all operate in that create what we call structural barriers for access to products and I think that you kind of alluded to that by saying that, you know, with Inclusive Design, the goal is to focus on those who have traditionally been excluded from from use and access. And I think that once we start to bring these other layers into inclusive design, which does include equity, which includes justice, but it also includes things, for instance, like ethics and social responsibility, and even care and healing, I think that there's so much more potential for inclusive design work to have greater social impact. Because again, we're not just limiting ourselves to bringing in more people into the design process. But we're really thinking about how people have been historically and systematically excluded and oppressed, and how we can actually start to not just change products and services, but actually start to make change in these larger systems and in the social norms and in the culture, that keep us in a status quo of inequity and injustice. So that is a long winded definition. Because I would say it's kind of hard to narrow, inclusive design down into, again, I like to go beyond just, you know, designing for more people. But to me, again, I it's to me, I see it kind of as an evolving definition, I think that will, in our community, at least we're going to keep experimenting with different ways of framing the practice and the mindset. But at the end of the day, it's really just a way for us to kind of try to shift the needle, turn the needle a bit, from a bigger picture perspective and driving social change. And that requires us to challenge how we work, who we're designing with and for. And you know, what we're actually designing. So thinking also about the types of solutions that we ended up building and prioritizing.

JJ 11:55

Yeah, I love that. And I want to dig in to a little bit of the comparison of dei work, and in just a moment, but before before I get there, because I know that's also something you know, just very top of Top of Mind and out there a lot is dei work, which is great again, but I want to compare that but before we get there before, before we get to that question, I'll come back to that. I want to ask this because I think it's important I mentioned and kind of as I was kicking off the episode, you know that it's important for Product Management. But I do think it's important for us to understand if inclusive design should be just for designers or where the product managers fit in. I mean, I think there's a an importance for us to understand it. But tell me about why product folks and product managers product leader should care about this, and maybe a little bit about how how we play there. Yeah, this is

Sandra 12:49

a really good point. And I would say that I would even kind of shift the perspective a bit to what's happening in tech. And so when we, when I think of product, I'm thinking a bit more of digital products, and services. But what we're seeing happening right now in tech, so a lot of big tech companies like your your Googles, your Adobe's your MBBS, and Ubers of the world, they're actually really starting to pay a whole lot more attention to these concepts of inclusion and equity, and not to talk too much about accessibility. But historically, you know, where we've seen these sorts of topics show up in industry, and in product has been really more around, you know, how can we abide by certain set of guidelines, and even laws that require us to make products that are accessible for people with disabilities. So this is kind of going back to in the US, for instance, the American Disabilities Act, or, you know, the global set of accessibility guidelines that are called the WCAG guidelines. And from that perspective, what we're kind of now seeing in the product space is that teams are Google metta and and all these Salesforce and all these other companies, they're starting to think of inclusive design, even more broadly. And they're naming it and labeling it product inclusion and product equity. And what that means is that whether you know you have a culture that is design, lead or product, lead or engineering lead, there's still this kind of importance of weaving in these principles and considerations for inclusion for equity. And also, of course, for for ethics and social responsibility and so forth. But we see that, regardless of whether it's a designer that's creating something or whether it's a whole kind of cross functional team of designers, product managers, product owners, engineers, copywriter, or UX writers, marketers, you know, all of these people who are involved in action slowly developing the end to end process and approach for for the development of a product. And we see that everybody is is concerned. So I'm happy to share an example maybe a little bit later on of there's this great case that I actually built a whole workshop around because it is an exact are a really good representation of the problem of leading perhaps with designers kind of focusing on inclusion and not bringing in everyone else. And when I say everyone else, again, it's those folks who either are doing product management side of things are who are involved in kind of go to market sales, marketing, etc. And so I would say that, you know, if the end goal and again, this is the assumption that, I would assume that many companies have, that they want to build products that everyone can use, and not just, you know, a narrow set of users, you would assume that these principles are something that should extend to everyone's work, and that they should be comparable did and adopted and embraced by everyone. And so sometimes I feel that it doesn't matter if we call it design or not, I actually like to lean into a definition of design that is much broader than the traditional definition, where we tend to think of design as something done by professionals who have undergone kind of a specific path of accreditation, or training, meaning UX designers, product designers, UI designers, game designers, visual designers, and so forth. And I would argue, and this is a little bit close to the principle of, you know, thinking of design thinking or human centered design, that anybody can be a designer. And it's really more about design, being redefined to me, you know, bringing some sort of intention to life and being able to kind of use our imaginations to transform an idea into something concrete in the world. And then that respects, you know, product managers can also be designers. So, so yeah, that's where I feel that it, it's about kind of challenging some of these definitions and not being too focused on the words themselves, but really, you know, what are the outcomes that we're driving towards. And if we're looking to make products that everyone can actually use and benefit from, that means that we need to be thinking about inclusion equity across the antenne product development process. And that concerns everybody,

JJ 17:29

It's so true that there's no way this could be done by by one person or one group. This is if we're truly going to build inclusive products, it has to be, you know, a concern of everyone. So I love that. And yes, I do want to hear that example in a moment. But let's go back now to discussion that we alluded to earlier with, tell me your thoughts on like how this inclusive design compares to dei work that's happening. And of course, that's diversity, equity and inclusion work that's happening in so many organizations, what, how do you see that fitting together? Or, you know, comparing to each other? You know, what are your thoughts on that? Yeah,

Sandra 18:08

This is a really great question. And I actually wrote an article on this. So I'm happy to perhaps share that as a resource afterwards, but

JJ 18:15

Oh, great. Yeah, we'll definitely share that on Yeah, awesome.

Sandra 18:19

Yeah. So I would say, the way that I like to think about it is that traditionally speaking, diversity, equity inclusion has always kind of been defined, at least in the business world, and just in organizations in general, whether they're for profit or not. It's been defined as something that pertains to culture and to people and talent. So it's a question of, you know, how can we attract, retain and grow and develop talent that cuts across you know, many different parts of life that represents a variety perspectives and backgrounds and life experiences? And that's kind of where we think of diversity. And then inclusion is all about, you know, how can we get people to work more effectively together in the workplace to be much more collaborative to ensure that there's full participation in the workplace rather than you know, just having representation but people not really having a voice or feeling a sense of belonging or feeling like their opinions and their contributions are valued and recognized. That's kind of the I the inclusion piece, and then the E the equity is is all about, you know, how can we ensure that we are able to close gaps for instance, in PE that tend to tie to systemic inequalities. So the fact that women you know, come in already as at a disadvantage into the workplace when it comes to salaries because of how they've been socialized or because of potential biases that hiring managers can have, etc, etc. And so all of this why I bother to explain and give examples is because all of this has direct ties to work. That's how Burning, whether in product or design or research or marketing, so work that has to do with inclusion and equity because it's not just about the methodology that you use, or you know how end users are brought into that design or product development process. But it's also about who is actually part of these teams, how they're working together. And so it harkens back to both culture and to, in a way representation. And so for me, if even if you have an incredible team that is adhering to ethical principles, that is being mindful of incorporating, you know, marginalized communities into their user research panels, or you know, they're bringing in bringing them in for co creation, or for CO design, but the team itself, who's actually making who is actually making decisions is incredibly homogenous, from a perspective of kind of demographics or social groups, then we see that there's going to be a really big disconnect, there's going to be a lot of blind spots. And I feel there's not going to be that kind of sense of accountability, or that those kind of challenging perspectives that allow us to, to see what a lot of the times is imperceptible. So to see some of these biases, these inequities, the amplification of stereotypes, etc. And so that's why to me di work and inclusive design or product inclusion and product equity, whatever you want to call it, they have to go hand in hand. So you have to at least, the way that I like to see it in the way that I've worked with, with my clients is trying to find the interconnections with between the culture and talent work, and the actual kind of day to day practices or the practical application of di principles as as to how they're, you know, they're showing up in design and marketing and product. And so to me, a lot of the times these fields or disciplines are seen as completely separate. And I would say I would argue that, in fact, they overlap in a lot of ways. And there's a lot of kind of potential benefits that D I work, for instance, can draw from, you know, product and design work. And the opposite way as well, I think that there's lots of stuff happening and culture and kind of talent work that I think could have a huge impact on on how product managers and designers are thinking about inclusion and equity. But there are always those lines of communication and lines of collaboration happening. And the bigger the organization gets, then the work tends to be pretty siloed. So, so yeah, there's kind of we can go much deeper than than that. But to make it short, I think that the work has to be interconnected, that we can't ignore culture, when we're doing work around product inclusion, equity and inclusive design. And that representation and the types of perspectives that are in the room and how they're actually being included, is a vital importance. And to me, that's that's to work

JJ 23:01

That makes so much sense and how they need to be connected with maybe different work streams, if you will, but very, very connected. I think that's I think that's a really great way to explain it. And I appreciate that, because it's again, I think a lot of folks like myself, who, you know, we're, we're product folks, and these things matter to us greatly, but we don't know how they all fit together if we're not like knee deep in the work. So I love that that's a really good way to think about it. So let's hear some some examples. I would love to hear some, some, you know, compelling examples of things that have worked really well in inclusive design, and maybe even something that hasn't worked so well if you if you have some of those.

Sandra 23:46

Yeah, so I think you know, we can start with and I like to share these because these are examples that we not examples. But these are products or services or just parts of our environment that we come across day to day that that we may not actually be interpreting through the lens of inclusion or accessibility. And the first, which seems kind of obvious, but it's closed captions and subtitles. And the you know, if we think of the origin story behind these two, these two solutions is that they were meant to make the experience of watching media, or I should say, consuming media, making that experience accessible for those who may have hearing impairments or who may be deaf. And so why we can kind of see that as a design that's inclusive or that harkens back to inclusive design is that we often this is a very common kind of saying in the inclusive design world that where when you solve for one, you solve for many, and what that means is that when you're when we center the needs or the pain points of a specific group of people, in this case those with you hearing impairments are those who are, who are deaf. And we design a solution that's specific to them, we can actually extend those benefits to many other people. And if you think of kind of your day to day life as a consumer, or as a user of, you know, products that may have closed captions, like say, you're watching a video on YouTube, and you happen to forget your headphones, or you happen to be on the metro where there's a lot of background noise, or perhaps, you know, you've been through a really loud concert night before and you're you're a little bit hard of hearing or, you know, you have some sort of illness that temporarily deprives you of, you know, your your normal hearing ability. And so we see that these sorts of designs can really adapt themselves to all sorts of different situations, even going beyond kind of this target group, which in this case was those who are hard of hearing and those who are deaf. So I like to kind of harken back to that example. And another one would be even, again, this is thinking about more of designs that were specifically developed for people with disabilities. But another one is curb cuts. And this is also a very kind of common example. And this actually leads us a little bit more into Universal Design. So it allows us to actually clearly distinguish between what's inclusive design versus universal design. And an example wicker carts are basically when you're at the edge of a sidewalk, and instead of having kind of a drop off towards the street, you actually have a ramp that allows for this kind of seamless transition between the sidewalk and the street. And that is what's called a curb cut. And why that is more of a universal design is that we're not necessarily creating a specific solution, just for instance, for folks who are in wheelchairs, but we're actually creating an adjustment to to one particular solution. So in this case, you know, the three, were adapting that so that, you know, this one solution becomes universally accessible. So for folks with disabilities, so those who may be in a wheelchair, but also for people who may be with a stroller or heavy suitcase, on rollerblades on a bike, etc, etc. And so that's really more about instead of creating multiple solutions that adapt to like the unique needs of different groups, we're actually figuring out how can we adapt either existing solutions or even new solutions and make them as universally accessible and inclusive as possible? So, so yeah, so I'd like to share kind of those two, and there are many, many more beyond that. Those are just kind of the two traditional examples.

JJ 27:39

Yeah, I actually love those two examples, because I think they're everybody. Everybody can relate to them. Right? everybody's aware of them. And I love the example of the curb cut curb cut. Is that right? Is that? Yeah, okay. I never knew it was called that. So again, learning something, I love it. You know, it's so it's so true that it is universal. Like, again, I'm in Manhattan, and least I spent part of my time in Manhattan, and when I'm going to the grocery store with my little cart, you know, those are incredibly valuable, to not have to, you know, hike it up over over the curb. So, but again, that's, you know, whether or not that was one of the use cases or not, it is universally valuable, if you will to folks, so, so I love those examples. So, tell me, tell me, do you have any examples of of situations or solutions that didn't, you know, work so positive and and even in May, hopefully, not intentionally, but unintentionally, were exclusionary any any examples where we can learn from that?

Sandra 28:46

Absolutely. And I think this is the one where I had mentioned that I had created a whole workshop around this example. Because this case, because it's so compelling, it's so interesting, as to how even if teams have the best of intentions, when it comes to creating an inclusive product, they can still fall by the wayside. And there are lots of different kinds of things that can get overlooked or ignored, because there may not necessarily be those perspectives that are challenging you. Or you perhaps you may be holding power. And this example that I want to talk through is from Nike. And you know, Nike is a fantastic brand in the sense that they've actually invested quite a bit over the years and creating offerings for Paralympians and thinking about accessibility. And one kind of key way that they've done that is through this line of shoes called and again, I'm talking about physical products here, but this kind of relates back to digital products as well. But in this case, this was the design of a line of shoes called the Fly Ease shoes and they had kind of multiple collections of issues that were released between I think 2015. And the last two years as well, I think 2021 was the last release date. And what was really interesting, and I talked about this, and, of course, I'll be building soon that anybody can access, it'll be completely free. But we are going to what I talked about in the workshop, and the course that will be launched soon is that the initial kind of development of this collection of shoes were really centered on putting kind of folks with disabilities and in this case, it was actually inspired by a real customer who has cerebral palsy, and who actually worked hand in hand with a designer on the Nike team to actually work through multiple iterations of a prototype of a shoe that could be slip in and slip out meaning where he wouldn't have to use his hands. Because that was one of the biggest kind of challenges of this life was being able to actually put on a pair of shoes without having to use his hands because of the laces being the typical problem. And so what was interesting is that the first line of shoes like we saw that they there was really a lot of attention paid to centering the voice of, of Matthew and which was the name of the of the consumer, of the young, the young man with cerebral palsy, and also other folks with disabilities, you know, we saw that it seemed to be kind of a disability led, sort of approach to product design. And what was interesting is that about a year and a half ago, they launched the latest version of the shoes, which are called the flies go. And this time, there was a lot of fancy marketing around it. And there was a lot of kind of hype around the fact that this was the first truly hands free shoe that had been developed and deployed on the market. And the problem was that if you look at kind of the go to market strategy, and the marketing and communications strategies around the product launch, there was really this big emphasis on universal design. So about the fact that this product, you know, there was very little mention of the fact that the disability community was actually the inspiration and that they were central to the process, there was more focus more on the kind of advanced engineering and on the universality of the product. And the kind of excitement around you know, even if you're a mom of two, who you know, you're holding your groceries, like you can just slip in and out of your shoes. And there was less of a focus on really trying to think about how do we make the shoe not just accessible from a usage perspective, meaning that people with, for instance, with motor impairments, that they can actually, you know, use the shoe put it on and off. But they didn't think about even things around price, and around inventory and supply. So what happened is that because they had hiked up the launch so much, the product ended up selling out, I ended up on reseller sites at a price that was like, I think five or six times higher, even more than the original market retail place. What that meant is that not only folks with disabilities were completely erased from the marketing, but they weren't actually given first access to the product. So those who actually needed it the most, who also usually, if we think of folks with disabilities, they actually tend to have lower employment rates and have less disposable income. And so they were in some in some way that were priced out of accessing the product. And that goes to show that, you know, we can't forget equity, when it comes to, you know, inclusive design. It's not just about creating something that more people can use. But it's also about making sure that those people who are most marginalized, who have the most barriers have access, that you're actually intentionally breaking down those barriers of access that you are prioritizing them, and centering them across again, the end to end process, not just design, but also, you know, go to market sales, pricing, these sorts of things that go beyond kind of the purview of designers. So So yeah, so I perhaps unpack that and a lot of detail. But I feel that it's a good example of, you know, where you can go wrong, still you have good intentions, but you can actually create a lot of harm without realizing it.

JJ 34:40

I love that example. And I think it's such a tangible example of what you were talking about earlier about how it has to go across the entire development lifecycle. It has to be inclusive of everyone in the organization, right that's going to be impacting this, this solution and how it goes to market and and how its produced and how it's, you know, available and distributed, etc. So I think that's a really good example of how good intentions, you know, started out. And then and then there were some some pitfalls along the way. So really, really compelling example there. I have a question in one turn a turner conversation just slightly now about it, I mentioned pitfalls, and some of some of what you just actually mentioned where, you know, I think probably some pitfalls to look out for right to, you know, do something with good intentions, and then the way we put it to market can can impact it. Specifically, I want to know, you know, if somebody is part of a dominant or majority group, or however you want to say that not necessarily one of the marginalize to use a product or whatever, how would you suggest that those folks approach this work? Because, you know, again, it shouldn't take someone being marginalized, or what have you to, to for this to matter to you. But, frankly, sometimes it's not as apparent to people who aren't impacted by something. And so how can those folks who aren't necessarily in a minority group or in a marginalized group, etc? How can how can those folks approach this work? And do it right, and do it in a way that really matters?

Sandra 36:35

Yeah. And I feel like this is a very multi layered and complex question, in terms of, you know, on one hand, I think it's important to even unpack, you know, what do we mean by dominant or majority groups? And I think that's where, yeah, kind of the social sciences like lens can really help to be able to look at, you know, social systems to look at history and understand, you know, how has power, for instance, been distributed in society over the years. And I think the traditional way that we can look at this, and that people think of this is with regards to social class, or socio economic status, so the house and the have nots, so those who have greater financial means, we know that they're in charge of decision making, and many big corporations and politics. What we can learn when we lean into kind of a social sciences lens is that the idea of a meritocracy is erroneous, it's false. Meaning that it's not just a question of how hard you work that leads to a certain set of accomplishments or to success in life and business and professionally. But you can have a leg up based on things that perhaps you didn't choose about yourself. So perhaps the gender or the gender identity that aligns with you the sexual orientation that you possess the color of your skin, or your ethnicity, or your race of the native language that you happen to just learn, because that's either where you lived or where your family came from. And what we find is that there are and there's a great kind of visual that aligns with this. And I'm happy to also share as a resource, it's called the wheel of power and privilege. And to me, that's kind of the first starting point for this kind of understanding, like, where do you fit? And it's, again, not a question of either or, either I'm dominant, or I'm a marginalized. But in fact, this is where the concept of intersectionality comes into the picture. And this is a concept from Kimberly Crenshaw, who's a law scholar, and a critical race theory. Theorists, you could say. And it's the idea that as individuals, we all have unique experiences of privilege and of discrimination that's tied to our very kind of multifaceted social identities and our lived experiences. And what I mean by that, and I like to use myself as an example is that I, for instance, am a woman and I'm a woman of color, which I am a Latina. So in the US, for instance, I will face certain set of marginalization and bias when it comes to pay or when it comes to certain sort of stereotypes. At the same time, I am cisgender, I am heterosexual I have kind of middle to upper class, I have superior education, I have two degrees. And those sorts of things means that I as an individual, in certain circumstances, we'll have a set of privileges that do, in a sense, give me an advantage in society, but I also face certain barriers that may slow me down or that may inhibit my access to resources to call to opportunities or to knowledge. And that's kind of when we think of intersectionality. And when I go back to kind of the question that you asked, it's, it's important to kind of understand these different dynamics of society. Because all of those sorts of things will show up in the work that we do and in the types of products and services that we design. Because if we are part of a dominant group, and we either aren't aware of our marginalization or we don't face any marginalization, because we happen to just have social identities that tend to be most advantageous in society, just where you hear of, you know, white cisgender, heterosexual men being kind of called out for not acknowledging their privilege. But what this means really is that when you don't experience marginalization, or you're not in community, or in conversation with folks who have experienced marginalization, and by marginalization, I mean, you know, facing stereotypes or having unequal access to services, or facing, you know, biases, in an interview process, or not having access to people in your network, who can connect you to other folks and open access to, to job opportunities, things like that. And what that means is that when you're not aware of that, or you're not actively dis decentering yourself and recognizing your privilege, you're likely just going to reinforce all of the social dynamics in your work, even to the again, this is what happened with the Nike example, you're likely to think more about yourself, even if you are trying to have as much empathy as possible and to and to really think about who you're designing for. But this is where we have to think of since more kind of the equity and the justice side of inclusive design, it's thinking about, you know, what are ways that I can start to shift power? You know, what are ways that perhaps I default to certain assumptions? Either because that's all I know, that's part of my worldview, or because that benefits me and people who look like me in some way. And a lot of that stuff is it's not always very conscious, or even very explicit, it can be very nuanced. And that's why I feel that going back to the question how di work like a lot of this sort of kind of self reflection and self analysis that happens in di work, when we are thinking of how do we show up to the workplace? How do we, you know, collaborate with other folks? What are the assumptions and the biases that we bring in? And how does that tie to these bigger kind of systems of oppression that that we're all shaped by, and that we tend to perhaps perpetuate unknowingly? So so yeah. So I would say that like, even before you actually go and do the more tactical things like changing the way that you design products, bringing in more diverse people into research, you know, thinking about different sorts of contexts or use cases for your product, you have to do this introspective work. And I think this is where people tend to, like, at least the people that I that I've engaged with in the past, who are looking for easy solutions. And who don't realize the importance of this introspective work you, you tend to want to take shortcuts. And the pitfall of that is that your, your quote, unquote, inclusive solution actually ends up being exclusionary. And sometimes you may not even know that it's exclusionary, because you don't have someone there challenging you, or you haven't actually paid attention to critique. Or to those. We haven't even done enough testing. Because, you know, again, assumptions kind of get in the way that Well, we did testing with these sorts of people, and we don't have access to these other people. You know, that's good enough. So So again, I'm kind of, you know, oversimplifying things a bit. But, um, but yeah, it comes back to the introspective work. So that's, that would be my number one recommendation, you know, spend some time educating yourself, reading other people's experiences, understanding systemic oppression, and how that shows up throughout history. And doing those little things from day to day of, you know, how can I shift some power? How can I recognize my privilege? How can I question some of my default assumptions about how the world works, and about, you know, how even my product will will be used by by folks who are perhaps, different from me,

JJ 44:31

Such great advice and, and perspective, I think it's so important for us to be self reflective, and it's difficult sometimes. Right? And you know, I love your, your personal example of there, there are some places where you are not the majority and in places where you are, and I think all of us have that and that intersectionality is really important. So thank you for that. I think that's a really, really important part of this conversation that I think people need to hear and embrace. So final question for you quickly is just what resources do You suggest to learn more? You know, we mentioned some which we will put on the show notes and in But what other resources do you suggest where folks can learn more if they want to get started here?

Sandra 45:12

Sure. So I put together on my blog, just a list of videos, podcasts, episodes, articles and books that I find really compelling. And so that will be in the show notes. It's at And, in inclusive design jam, the community that I oversee, we are creating a series of resources, which will be free. So the starter guide that I mentioned, which kind of introduces people to different concepts related to inclusive design and kind of a starter course. For those who we're actually going to walk through and unpack the case study that I that I briefly walk through today on Nike. And then I would say that there are a couple of other books. And the first book that I think is a is a must read. It's a little academic in terms of tone, but it's Design Justice by Sasha Constanza-Chock. So we'll have the link as well in the Episode Notes. But I think it's a really a fantastic way just to be able to kind of not just look at, again, design through the lens of inclusion, but also through a lens of equity and social justice. So to me, that's a must read. And another book that I think goes back more to DEI work is The Wake Up by Michelle MiJung Kim, which I think just provides a really great kind of an even gives a great deep dive not just into di strategies and how that shows up in the workplace, but also just history of oppression and understanding kind of what do we mean by systemic injustice or systemic barriers? The author, Michelle does a really great job on unpacking that providing really concrete examples and bringing in I think, what can be perhaps a provocative perspective, but I think it's a really great read, which again, gets us a little bit out of products and out of design more into di and social justice. But I think it can be eye opening for a lot of people. So those would be my recommendations.

JJ 47:18

Awesome. Those are amazing resources. Thank you for sharing. And yes, we will share all of that in the show notes and on Sandra Camacho, this has been such an amazing conversation. Thank you so much for joining me for sharing your wisdom and for educating us on this really important topic. Thanks for joining me.

Sandra 47:38

Yeah, thank you, JJ, for having me really excited to be able to bring this topic, perhaps under the lens to the product voices audience. And for those you know, who do want to keep the conversation going, you know, you are very, very welcome to join us in the Inclusive Design Jam community, and to connect with me on social media, I would be happy to keep the conversation going.

JJ 47:58

Great. And I'm sure lots of folks will take you up on that. We'll have all of those links on how to access Sandra's community and social media on So thanks again, Sandra. And thank you all for joining us on Product Voices. Hope to see in the next episode.

Outro (the incomparable Sandra Segrest) 48:15

Thank you for listening to product voices hosted by JJ Rorie. To find more information on our guests resources discussed during the episode or to submit a question for our q&a episodes, visit the show's website product And be sure to subscribe to the podcast on your favorite platform.


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