This article was taken from a Masters of Product Marketing presentation in December 2021 when Jameelah Calhoun was Head of US Consumer Product Marketing at Audible. She is now the Global Head of Product Marketing at Eventbrite. Samantha Wu is still the VP of Global Brand & Product Marketing at Facebook.
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In this article, we’re going to talk to you about an issue that’s close to both of our hearts: diversity and inclusion (D&I) in product marketing. No, D&I isn’t just some buzz phrase to use in socials, it’s something that is absolutely vital to success in every field of life. We want to live and breathe it, both in our personal and professional lives.
But first, a breakdown of the agenda:
- Why diversity and inclusion matter in product marketing.
- Campaigns that have amplified voices.
- How to infuse D&I in your organization.
- How we’re handling it.
- Key takeaways.
Why diversity and inclusion matter in product marketing
Before we dive in, here’s a little bit of background on who we are and why diversity and inclusion matter so much to us and the companies we work for.
Meet the needs of your customers: Samantha Wu
I'm Samantha Wu, and I lead the brand and product marketing function for the Facebook app. I grew up as a kid who loved to tell stories through pictures. I always thought I'd be an artist, but after going through school, I realized I had to make a living.
After doing a stint in marketing as an intern at L'Oreal, I realized that marketing is such a balance between art and science. I fell in love with it from there! I was working with engineers and product managers at Facebook to help them understand why it mattered for them to understand the consumer for what they were building.
At the end of the day, as a product marketer, you're making sure that you're delivering an experience to a consumer that delights them and meets their needs. And I don't think you can do that unless D&I is really core to your methodology.
I work on a product and platform that serves 2.3 billion people. If you aren't thinking about D&I as core to what you're building, then you're really not delivering products that meet the needs of your consumers.
Amplify voices: Jammelah Calhoun
My name is Jameelah Calhoun. I am currently leading consumer product marketing at Audible. This topic is such an interesting field of product marketing. So many of us have very different paths to get into this area, and it’s a pretty winding path. I started in finance and now spend my time consulting in product management.
Product marketing is really about driving behavioral change and driving customers to see value in your service. It’s essential that we’re able to speak in a way that’s relevant to all different types of customers.
But more crucially, it means that we can be an agent for change in communities. The companies that have really integrated D&I successfully are those that realize it’s integral to product marketing.
As we said, you have to live and breathe it. You have to infuse it into everything that you do. As someone in the tech industry, I’ve realized that it has the ability to democratize access in a way that can be truly revolutionary.
It doesn’t just help us to grow, it also helps influence how we interact in our communities more effectively. At Audible, for example, we're always thinking about creating fabulous content from diverse voices, so that we can really appeal to a diverse crowd. We’re amplifying voices every day.
Campaigns that have made diversity and inclusion work
D&I can be an integral part of how organizations meet the needs of their users. But don’t just take our word for it. Let’s look at how various successful companies have managed this.
A spectrum of tones: Jameelah Calhoun
If you want an example of how these things can go hand in hand, just look at how Fenty Beauty has incorporated an inclusive message into their brand.
Their beauty line really shows a full spectrum of different tones and different skin types. Additionally, their clothing line has inclusive sizing. They're really leveraging different types of models to show that there are multiple different ways to find value in this product.
This really gives them a crucial differentiation. They're able to have this inclusive breadth of products that serve the needs of multiple different parts of the community. That’s such a powerful way to show that D&I can be an essential differentiator and part of the value proposition.
A diversity of experiences: Samantha Wu
I think Netflix is a great example of a company that has diversity at the core of its product. The content that they create and curate is so focused on sharing stories that represent a huge diversity of experiences. They've been really thoughtful in how they embed that in their product.
It’s integrated seamlessly into the user experience. So in this way, it manages to check both boxes of being inclusive and also utilizing that essential product marketing skill of creating a fantastic user experience.
In terms of successful campaigns, I was a big fan of Beats by Dre’s ‘Love our culture’ campaign. It really emphasized how community is so integral to music culture. They recognized that the message of D&I was actually at the center of their product’s use case. Something that creates music that also creates communities and culture.
How to infuse diversity and inclusion into your organization
We know what you’re thinking. It’s all fine and well talking about the benefits of D&I, but how do we actually make it a part of our organization? Let’s delve deeper into that now.
Be deliberate and surgical: Samantha Wu
D&I needs to be inherent to the DNA of who you are and how you operate. That translates into your hiring practice. But it won’t happen by accident; D&I is a deliberate choice. I always say that you have to be surgical about it. Sounds pretty cold, right? But what I mean is that you have to be very deliberate and precise about implementing it.
When we’re looking at a pipeline of candidates, for example, are we truly looking at a diverse list of candidates? There is no getting around it, it’s human nature often to hire people who are like you. So, how do you ensure that in the upper funnel, you're getting the diversity of candidates?
We all need to go through unconscious bias training because the harsh reality is, we all have a bias. And we’ve got to check that.
If we want to train people to be as inclusive as possible in the interview process, we have to train them to really target those unconscious biases with surgical precision. Another way of saying that is you’re training them to be mindful, to notice things in themselves.
Be flexible: Jameelah Calhoun
For me, I have to ensure that candidates are aware that technology companies are a place for them. When we make sure that candidates are aware that their skills will be valued in a tech company, we set a tone for inclusivity and lack of bias.
You don’t know what preconceived notions candidates might be coming in with. They might have the idea that your industry isn’t historically inclusive of their race or culture. This has definitely been true of tech companies in relation to race and gender. It’s your job to set them at ease on this.
Make sure that, as a product marketer, you’re always networking with different types of candidates early on in their career journeys. This really sets the tone for ensuring you have a personal network that is already more diverse and more plugged in.
In a systematic way, you’re building a bigger, more diverse pipeline for technology and product marketing generally.
How we’re handling it
So, we might be able to talk the talk about diversity, but do our organizations actually walk the walk? Well, let’s really zoom in on how our organizations are making D&I a vital part of our work.
A global audience: Facebook
At Facebook, we're committed to building a diverse workplace that reflects the diversity of the people we serve. I don’t need to tell you that we have a global audience of people from around the world. We publish a ‘diversity update’ every year, so we're always very transparent about the progress we're making in these areas.
We know that we need to prove, from a marketing perspective, that the work we do represents all of the communities that we serve. Without that, Facebook has no reach, right? Because of this, we have very specific requirements.
We require diverse representation in who’s building our services. This allows us to present a face of authenticity to the communities that we serve. If you think about Facebook, it’s all about building communities online. That’s the whole appeal of it.
If we can’t show that our community is inclusive, the whole value proposition falls apart. This is a great example of how D&I and product marketing are glued together.
Community is key: Audible
At Audible, community is really tied to our whole ethos. From a product marketing perspective, it really adds to the value of our platform when we're able to bring different voices into people's homes everywhere.
Representation manifests itself in investment. At Audible, we’re really committed to investing in the community through our initiatives such as networking and high school internships. We’ve done a lot of outreach work on this in Newark, New Jersey.
Let’s go back to the idea of creating and diversifying that pipeline. You do this by recruiting at the very beginning of a young person's professional journey. This is especially true if that young person represents a marginalized demographic. They might fall through the net early if you’re not making an effort to network.
This is where internship programs and outreach can be incredibly powerful. We’re dedicated to providing young, diverse people with opportunities to enter the workforce. On a personal level, mentorship has been such an important part of my own success, and this is really a key part of how we maintain our existing diverse workforce. At Audible, for example, we have our black employee network. It’s so important that different communities within your workforce feel like they have a voice on a continual basis.
- D&I doesn’t happen by accident. It's a deliberate choice to make it happen, just as it’s a deliberate choice to not make it happen. Let’s do it together.
- Networking and community outreach are key to diversifying your pipeline of potential hires. Don’t just reach out to experienced PMMs, reach out to the newbies.
- Without D&I you’re severely limiting your product's scope for reaching a diverse range of customers. Diversify your message to diversify the appeal of your product.
- D&I is continuous work in progress. So, don’t take your foot off the gas! Make D&I a permanent part of your company’s structure.