Office Hours: Over 20 years of experience as a technologist and social scientist have led me to found incluu. I’m Dr. Dédé Tetsubayashi. AMA!Featured

Hi everyone!

My name is Dédé and I’m the CEO and founder of incluu, where our mission is to educate and empower individuals, groups, and communities to be more curious and intentional in developing their products for inclusion, accessibility and equitable outcomes.

Before incluu, I spent almost 20 years synergizing my lived experience as a Black queer woman with an invisible disability with my years of experience in advocacy, ethical tech, product equity & inclusion as a catalyst for creating brave spaces and products for all. My work empowers individuals and organizations committed to investing in equitable and accessible product development and design processes; therefore unlocking their full potential in their products, people, and practices.

Focusing on the US, APAC, and African markets, my extensive experience lies in helping companies develop and invest in creating processes that answer questions related to cutting edge tech going global and what it means to design with—and to empower—a diverse world, as well as address ethical usage of technology and ways to engage with as well as include users as dynamic participants in product development. I am an expert in designing, launching, and scaling responsible, ethical, and equitable products that have global impact, cultural and technological relevance within emerging markets.

I believe the intersection of product, justice (equity, inclusion, accessibility), ethics (safety, privacy, security by design) is the direction the tech industry must move toward in order to stay relevant and have a global impact.

Because of the fractal nature of my multiple identities or intersectional identities, having to advocate for myself and others whose voices have been left at the margins, or unheard, my singular obsession is how to design with not for, and thereby empower, a diverse world while reducing bias, discrimination, and inequity in tech.

Ask me anything about being a tech and AI ethicist, building products inclusively and for equitable outcomes, cross-cultural research, building product strategy, or anything else such as being adopted and an immigrant, speaking multiple languages or more! I spend my free time traveling, cooking, riding motorcycles, scuba diving, making and drinking wine and mead, and am always curious about learning new skills.

ElphaStaff's profile thumbnail
Thanks so much for joining us @drdede!Elphas – please ask @drdede your questions before Friday, April 15th. @drdede may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
codev91's profile thumbnail
Hi @drdede! Thanks so much for being here. I was wondering if you could highlight some companies or products that are really excelling in this space?Kathryn
PatriciaGestoso's profile thumbnail
Thanks so much for volunteering your time to answer our questions. You said, "my extensive experience lies in helping companies develop and invest in creating processes that answer questions related to [..] ethical usage of technology". I'm curious about your recommendations about making Web3 and the Metaverse inclusive and ethical.Thanks, Patricia
drdede's profile thumbnail
Hi @PatriciaGestoso,Web3.0 and Metaverse are both nascent innovations in technology, but just because they're relatively new doesn't mean we can't design those spaces and interactions with just like any other technology: my mantra is and will always be we must always design and build with intention towards positive impact and outcomes. That means building *with* communities and folks with the most difficult access, have been historically marginalized and under-represented, and those we consider to be edge or stress use cases. When we design and build with these communities, we're practicing what it means to build with inclusion, fairness, accessibility, and equitable outcomes in mind.Also, designing and building with ethics and inclusivity as outcomes means recognizing that we're never building anything in a silo, and that we are products of our environment. We as humans pattern match and seek likeness, so we have to be intentional about building with those who are different from ourselves and have had different experiences. We also know that building for ethics, inclusion and equity means taking into account the multi-layered ways people are excluded and marginalized through systemic violence - i.e. we don't have enough women, BIPOC, LGGBTQIA+, people with disabilities and more represented throughout the majority (perhaps all) industries, and this impacts the how, what, whys and with who we build.We can change this throughout all products, and the process is no different for Web3.0 and the Metaverse.
purnimamavinkurve's profile thumbnail
Thank you for doing the AMA! As a woman in tech, who is an Individual Contributor (IC) role (can't influence hiring decisions), what could I do to help improve representation of women in Engineering roles at my workplace? Thank you.Also - any way to influence others to share their annual performance objectives with their teams? How to bring more transparency to the process? Are there any role models/employers who are doing this right? And have blogged about their good practices? Also - how to influence writing more inclusive job descriptions that result in tangible increase in more women/diverse candidates to apply for jobs at your workplace? How to support/ retain women at workplace.- specifically in engineering / IC roles?
drdede's profile thumbnail
Hi @purnimamavinkurveA couple of things you could do as an IC is to be visible! This can be as an ambassador (you can represent your company if you wish, but you could also just represent yourself in your networks) by mentoring, being a spokesperson, be on panels, join events, and creating learning groups around engineering, etc. Being visible is a huge part because representation matters and if we can see someone who looks like us in those roles, then we can imagine ourselves in those roles. If you believe in your workplace, enjoy your work, think they are creating a good culture and it's a good place to be, continue being an advocate and sharing your experience with other women. Share job posts and you can also refer them! All of this will connect to you how to support / retain women in the workplace as well. Remember that bringing people in is only the first step, and there needs to be an environment and culture that is inclusive: think of it this way - you can throw a party and invite everyone but for everyone to be able to have fun, you need to think about things like whether everyone has food that meets their dietary restrictions, that they can get to the party, and they can move around the party, and they are able to fully participate in the party. For sharing performance objectives - is this not already being shared with the team? Is this a startup that hasn't yet created a performance evaluation process? I'm assuming you're speaking about general (and team) performance objectives, but are you asking about diversity performance objectives?Influencing people to write more inclusive job descriptions is difficult - and is also connected to your next question about how to support/retain women in the workplace once they join. As an IC (at most companies), you cannot influence these practices - and they are practices that need to be put in place by senior leadership, because these are structural practices and systems that are core to running the business. BUT that is not to say that you can't influence. You can certainly provide research, case studies, and documentation showcasing how job descriptions can be re-written to be more inclusive, and you can provide resources to the people responsible for building the organizational structure of the company, but unless you have a relationship with them that enables you to share such information with them, you could run the risk of spending your time trying to convince an unwilling person to make those changes. Now if you're responsible for creating processes, templates of example job descriptions and a hero candidate journey, that's a different question.One option to you is to support your manager (and the hiring manager if they are two different people) in writing the job description to be more inclusive. If you know what is required for the roles, you can either draft inclusive job descriptions that you review with your manager, or just share with them if they are open to you supporting them in this aspect.Your manager can then work with the recruitment or people team to set the expectations that your team will be piloting more inclusive job descriptions with the aim of increasing diverse representation in the team over time. Again, remember that inviting someone to your party is just the start - there also needs to be a culture that fosters belonging as well.
purnimamavinkurve's profile thumbnail
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply in detail @drdede ! Your words are so inspiring.> For sharing performance objectives - is this not already being shared with the team? Is this a startup that hasn't yet created a performance evaluation process? I'm assuming you're speaking about general (and team) performance objectives, but are you asking about diversity performance objectives?I want to follow up on this question. I am not working in a startup. But I did not see this transparency in only other workplace where I had worked - Amazon. It did not occur to me to question this practice of no transparency until now . Of course, in the all hands at the company level - mission and values are shared. But we need to know what it finally boils down to, at a granular level. We do have a performance evaluation process in place. I am quite sure it is not standard practice to share one's performance objectives. I will be doing my part to share my own 1-on-1 with my teammates and my manager has been supportive in this intention of mine.Thanks again!
laurex's profile thumbnail
Thank you for being with us and sharing your wisdom @drdede! It looks like you both have a FT job and lead Incluu. I’m wondering how you balance these roles and how you think about when you should consider putting all your time into your business?
drdede's profile thumbnail
Hi @laurex, Balancing roles is always tough and I actually no longer recommend the "hustle" if one can avoid it because it actually feeds into a this culture of always being productive without considering that one's body has limitations! But if it's necessary, finding ways to:- guard your schedule: this is very important - find out whether you're needed in certain meetings as a decision maker or key stakeholder for example, and if not, there's no reason for you to be in the meeting (unless you're facilitating). - have strong boundaries that you don't cross and don't allow others to cross: mental wellbeing is directly tied to physical wellbeing, so don't skimp on either- work smarter not harder at every opportunity, and rely on your circles of trust such as mentors, sponsors, your personal board of advisors (perhaps your nearest and dearest or those who you turn to for difficult life-choices)- hold back some time for yourself because you can't do anything from an empty cup I could go on, but these are a few ways I try to balance work and then more work :)It's incredibly hard to balance having multiple jobs, but you also won't be able to put all your time into your business unless you have enough runway to pull away from your day-job to focusing solely on your business. If you've been able to create enough runway for 6 months to 1 year, and that runway will be enough to support your full investment into the business, then I say, that's when you can quit your day-job. That runway could be in the form of seed funding, angel investment into your business, startup grants or grants for your type of business, small business loans or sometimes your savings since it's harder for women of color to get startup funding when compared to their white, male counterparts. Getting that runway you're comfortable with in place can vary, so take your time if needed and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.
DaniellaGennaro's profile thumbnail
Hi @drdede! Thanks for being here for AMA. Reading your bio and intro, I am eager to read about the wisdom you have to share. I am co-founding a comics production company telling the lives of black queer historical figures. We are launching our first comic in June on William Dorsey Swann. While our product highlights people with intersectional identities, I'm not sure we've thought through total and maximum accessibility. Our comics will be physical and online... for this kind of product, should we be thinking through inclusion further?
drdede's profile thumbnail
Hi @DaniellaGennaro,I love your idea and would be interested in checking out your stories when they're public (I'm a huge fan of all things that are graphic novel-like :D)! What process are you going through to develop or product the comics? For example, are you exploring having reviews of the content (either the literary or the visual)done by people who identity as Black or queer / Black and queer? And although the comics will be physical and online, have you explored what having them online for ADA compliance and run them through a web accessibility tool? You can build your site along web accessibility guidelines that would help you be more inclusive of people with disabilities, but the best is to ensure the people whose lives and experiences you're sharing through the medium of comic-creation are also included in your full development process - from ideation to launch, then back again when you get feedback from members of those communities.
Krasid's profile thumbnail
Hey @drdede, thanks for taking time to share your wisdom! I admire your valuable work and strength, and love your focus on designing with (as opposed to for) others. I'm hoping you can share your knowledge & experience around a couple things:1) Do you ever have to persuade those who hire you to truly embrace the needed changes to support equity & accessibility in their orgs. (maybe they talk the talk, but don't walk the walk)? If so, what approaches have you found to be most successful?2) What are some of the ways the expertise/skills/mindsets that you've developed as a social scientist help you succeed in your work?
drdede's profile thumbnail
Hi @Krasid,1) Oh yes, I've been asked to present business cases as to why integrating inclusion, equity and accessibility into their day-to-day is good for both profits (business) and people (social impact), but unfortunately, this is a sign that the organization / people asking for those business cases are not actually interested in making those changes.If you're trying to make these changes in your organization, you can always search out existing research and business cases, and please read @michellekim, CEO of Awaken's 2018 article (https://medium.com/awaken-blog/if-your-boss-is-still-asking-about-the-business-case-for-diversity-your-company-might-be-in-186e02c26193) first and provide the resources that Kim shares in the article for anyone needing to do the work of "convincing" people. Also, be very careful of not falling into the trap of starting with volunteers who are passionate about JEDI (justice, equity, diversity and inclusion - I think we should add an A in there for accessibility too) as way to begin the work and show progress to convince senior leadership because those people are usually the ones who experience the systemic violence trying to coach those who do not have to think about it on a daily basis.Unfortunately, even after providing business cases, my experience has been that if people and organizations are not ready to hear you, you'll be fighting a losing battle. That's why we only partner with the people and organizations who are aware of systemic injustices, have committed to investing in being the catalyst for change, and are ready to move beyond learning about unconscious bias to putting in place sustainable infrastructure, tools, practices for all those who are involved in their ecosystem of development (people, programs and products) to be able to reach goals of inclusion, accessibility, equity. Without that initial belief, they don't invest, and they don't make the time, space or or provide the resources, tools and budget that are necessary to see this change. 2) I use my skills as an anthropologist on the daily! As someone who leads product development, I rely on either my UX research skills (or a colleague's if I'm so lucky) - which are based in the foundations of cultural anthropology - to understand the communities of people who will be interacting with or touch my product in some way. Without my background in conducting ethnographic research, it would be more difficult for me to understand what people experience in their day-to-day and how they interact with people and technology. It would also be more difficult for me to sympathize and empathize with people who have different experiences than I do, and thus would interact with other humans and technology differently - impacting the way the product could and would be ultimately used. Being a social scientist has allowed me to develop certain (softer) skills, emotional intelligence to balance technical knowledge, as well as the ability to not only be able to observe and listen as free of judgement as I can (and be self-reflexive enough to know that I can never be fully free of bias because I'm human so I have to acknowledge that with all that I do) while seeing patterns of behavior that connect us. Being able to approach someone as another human and know that they have something to teach me, being willing to listen with intentional curiosity, and read between lines, and between cultural modes of expression has been critical to my success.
Krasid's profile thumbnail
Thank you for sharing your insight! Your reply to the 1st question is something I was suspicious of (& hoping I just had a biased/jaded viewpoint of this). I'll read the article you shared & see if some of the resources can help bolster a true mindset & behavior shift in my org, & work to be more mindful of the human cost-benefit of the efforts. Your input to que. 2 absolutely hits the nail on the head! Your connection between empathy, perspective taking, & biases to your work is extremely insightful. My background in social science (psychology) is a bit different from yours, but I have felt similar connections between my knowledge/skills and my work without fully being able to articulate it.Looking forward to absorbing some more of your wisdom reading through your responses to the other questions in here!