Google director of product inclusion Annie Jean-Baptiste builds better products

Good Morning Broadsheet Readers! The departure of Patreon’s chief people officer leaves the company without female executives, the New York Philharmonic now has more women than men, and Annie Jean-Baptiste is urging Google to develop more inclusive products. The Broadsheet is off for the rest of the week due to Thanksgiving in the US. We’ll be back in your inbox on Monday.

– Product updates. Diversity and inclusion have always been important to Annie Jean-Baptiste. A long-time Googler, she joined the technology company in 2010 as an account manager, before taking on a D&I role four years later.

While in that position, she realized that D&I had a place outside of talent: in product. She took advantage of Google’s 20% project policy, which allows employees to spend 20% of their time outside their core business, to explore how to apply inclusion to the tech offering.

Starting with Google Assistant and the camera sensor team, she and her colleagues identified four critical parts of the product development process that are inflection points for inclusion: ideation, UX, user testing, and marketing. Working on those four nodes, they determined which Google Assistant responses to eliminate and taught the assistant how to respond effectively to prompts like “tell me a fact about Pride of Black Lives Matter.”

“It’s not just about taking things away, it’s about helping people in the moments that matter most,” says Jean-Baptiste.

Annie Jean-Baptiste, Google’s director of product inclusion and equity.

Thanks to SHAMAYIM

Today, Jean-Baptiste oversees a team working full-time on these issues as Google’s director of product inclusion and equity. Additional product integration staffers are dispersed throughout the organization.

Their recent work includes the launch of “women-owned” and “LGBTQ-owned” attributes for businesses to add to their Google pages and improvements to the Google Pixel camera to better represent all skin tones in photos and videos.

It’s a job that sometimes intersects with high-profile issues at Google. Take, for example, yesterday’s news that U.S. lawmakers are urging the company to run misleading ads alongside searches for abortion services. Most of Jean-Baptiste’s work has focused on consumer-facing products, separate from the ethical AI controversies that have engulfed Google in the past.

“At its core, it’s about fitting in,” Jean-Baptiste says of building inclusive products. “It says, ‘Who else should be included? And whose voices are missing?’”

Ironically, Jean-Baptiste’s work could make her role obsolete by making Googlers think with an inclusive framework without prodding. So far, she says, the company has made the most progress in hardware, which started much of this work. Her team wants to replicate that success and create a “repeatable process” for others. “We aim to build that muscle… so everyone has it.”

Emma Hinchliffe
[email protected]
@_emmahinchliffe

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ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

– Big room. Tiffany Stevenson, Patreon’s chief people officer, recently resigned, leaving the company without women in its executive ranks. CEO Jack Conte said the now all-male executive team is “not OK” and promised to interview mostly women for the role. Stevenson’s departure follows a string of female departures from Patreon’s top executives since 2019. The information

– Make progress. In 2017, the “Big Three” institutional investors, State Street, BlackRock and Vanguard, pledged to increase gender diversity on corporate boards. Their campaigns led to companies adding at least 2.5 times more female board members in 2019 than they did in 2016, a new working document shows. National Bureau of Economic Research

– Sea change. For the first time in the 180-year history of the New York Philharmonic, there are more women than men (45 to 44). But this record could be temporary, as the prestigious orchestra has 16 vacancies to fill. New York Times

– Clean slate. Oregon Governor Kate Brown on Monday pardoned 45,000 state residents convicted of possessing an ounce or less of marijuana prior to 2016. The state legalized recreational cannabis use in 2015. New Republic

MOVERS AND CHESS PLAYERS: Virgin Galactic named Sarah Kim as executive vice president and chief legal officer.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

– Misleading advertisements. Google introduced a policy in 2019 that requires ads that appear next to abortion-related search results to be certified based on whether they provide the procedure. Two senators are now asking the tech giant to ensure that policies are applied more consistently to crack down on misleading advertising from anti-abortion crisis maternity centers. Bloomberg

– Strong contenders. Women lead this year’s Best Performance nominations for the Film Independent Spirit Awards, with eight of the ten nominations. Everything Everywhere Everything at once, Tár, and women talking, any films with female leads also dominated the award show announcement, likely making them strong contenders for major award shows like the Oscars. Vanity purse

– No choice. Liberty Media, Ticketmaster’s largest shareholder, blamed the Taylor Swift ticket fiasco on overzealous Swifties and bots, adding that it was Swift’s decision to partner with Ticketmaster. The singer’s tour promoter, AEG Presents, responded that it had no choice but to partner with the company due to Ticketmaster’s exclusive deals with most of the venues used on the tour. CNBC

ON MY RADAR

Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia empire is huge. It’s about to get much bigger Variety

The reincarnations of Willow Smith Play

Naomi Biden at her White House wedding Fashion

With Anna Delvey on the subway The cut

SEPARATE WORDS

“[I’m] i keep going out and being myself. Being in places where people like me have never been before is a very powerful thing to do.”

—Amy Schneider, who the first openly transgender to win Danger!s Tournament of champions on Monday.

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