Product Inclusion Leadership: Insights from Google SVP Hiroshi Lockheimer
Product Inclusion is the practice of applying an inclusive lens throughout the entire product design and development process to create better products and accelerate business growth. It’s an area Google is investing in heavily, and we’re excited to introduce a new series featuring insights from senior executives from Google (and our partners) on how to lead product inclusion efforts in the tech as well as across industries.
To kick off the series, we spoke with Hiroshi Lockheimer, a senior vice president at Google who leads the Platforms and Ecosystems Product Area, focusing on Android, Chrome and Google Play. Here, Hiroshi shares tips on how to build products that appeal to a wide spectrum of global users, with examples related to Google’s platforms that billions of people around the world use every day.
What does building inclusive products mean to you?
We have the huge responsibility and privilege of being part of literally billions of people’s lives everyday, and that’s really humbling. It means that our products have to meet billions of different needs, and that we can’t succeed without inclusive products designed for all users, no matter who they are or where they come from. To do this well (and to do it at scale), we need people who come from different backgrounds writing code, testing use cases, developing user guides, creating ad campaigns and so much more. That kind of work calls for different races, abilities, genders, geographies and tons of other dimensions of diversity.
We think about this at every step of the product design process. One example is how our Camera team sought more diverse perspectives to improve the proximity sensor of the Camera so that it worked better for people with different skin tones.
A few years ago, Android’s motto was “be together, not the same.” That seems like an early version of the concept of product inclusion. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
When you think about it, diversity and inclusion are really at the core of Chrome and Android’s DNA. These open platforms are all about encouraging developers to create unique products to meet the needs of their global users.
How has your upbringing led you want to build more inclusive teams? And inclusive products?
I was born and raised in Japan. I’m also biracial. So, growing up there I was always acutely aware of the fact that I was different from most of my neighbors. In my early twenties I moved to Silicon Valley to work in tech.While I may have blended in more, I was also acutely aware of the fact that I was still different. I didn’t know many things that would have been “obvious” to someone who may have grown up in the U.S., like pop culture references or how to use a payphone (back when that was a thing!). That gave me an appreciation for the fact that differences can sometimes be obvious, and sometimes much more subtle. There’s much more to it than meets the eye. So, building an inclusive team can mean so many things—from diversity of upbringing to geography, race, gender identity, experiences, etc.
If you could offer other companies and entrepreneurs one piece of advice on building products that accurately reflect users from all over the globe, what would it be?
I'd say build for everyone, with everyone. It's a big world out there, and it's important to acknowledge how one experiences the world may not be the same as how another experiences it. Being cognizant of that and acting on it is important.
Inspired by Hiroshi? Apply for a job at Google to create, code, design and build for everyone.