Ethics In Product Management

Building Ethical Products

How do you create well-rounded, successful and ethical products all at once?

Ethical design has been one of the most discussed topics in the IT industry and beyond this year. With documentaries like The Social Dilemma bringing awareness of this concept to the mainstream, product managers are taking their turn in the hot seat. Now that we understand the power of design in software, it gives product development a greater weight of responsibility. When companies create products, like this infamous soap machine that discriminates against skin color, we need to question the development process.

You might see it as a duty for companies to step up and make more responsible products, but this means changing their development culture to allow for more time and potentially making compromises on aggressive growth targets. How should leadership be approaching and supporting this? How should product managers be responding? Can you create well-rounded, successful and ethical products at the same time?

To answer these questions, Mike Rastiello, Product Manager at Rackspace Technology, and Heather Ferguson, Content Strategist at Rackspace Technology, join Jeff DeVerter on the Cloud Talk podcast for an episode about ethics in product management.

Tune in to hear about the following:

  • Product management best practices
  • Bias in code and real-world examples of discriminative products
  • AI for Good and ethical initiatives in IT
  • The importance of diversity in product development
  • Protecting your data and the right to privacy

Rastiello talks about the importance of acting responsibly in product management to take care of your users. “You’re going to make mistakes. It’s inevitable. The key is to make sure that once you discover a mistake has been made, admit to it. Figure out who was affected by it, how you can fix it, make the situation right. Take care and protect your users as best as possible.”

Rastiello continues by emphasizing the role of diversity throughout product development. “Diversity needs to be every step of the way, from requirement gathering, to who you’re building your user stories with, to who’s actually doing the developing and the designing of these products. If it’s hardware or software, who is QAing them? And then who was in your testing group? Was there a diverse enough population as possible in all those? Ranging from race to sexuality to gender.”

Ferguson explains the root of problems in development, which is slowly improving. “It ties back to the field of IT in general, which is, unfortunately, not the most diverse body of people. This is getting better over time, and it does seem to be becoming a more relevant topic for more people. Especially as we start talking about AI and technology that will be able to act independently.”

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