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In this article, we’ll discuss diversity and inclusion and how using both increase productivity, innovation and business value for Agile QA teams.

Diversity and inclusion are terms that are clouded by legalities, workplace promotional propaganda and often the subject of employee meetings or weekly memos. What do the terms mean when managing a team of QA testers? What do diversity and inclusion bring to the team table beyond fulfilling legal hiring requirements?

Diversity and inclusion are methods of leading or managing teams that recognize and celebrate human differences and unique perspectives, creating a workplace where all team members feel they truly belong. Diversity and inclusion are separate concepts that, when combined, create highly engaged, fully empowered, exceptionally innovative and highly productive Agile QA testing teams.

The Agile principles encourage self-governing teams of diverse people working together seamlessly. Well, most QA teams are not quite that simple. It takes learning a few hard and soft skills that teach people to work together when they have different experiences, experience levels, varying ages and cultures. You won’t be able to simply snap your fingers and have the team fall into place working alongside each other in harmony.

Fortunately, QA testing teams find ways to work together that values team members uniqueness and individuality. After all, QA testers tend to have common success traits including an inquisitive mind, stellar intuition, thick skin and the ability to ask tough questions and stand up for what they believe in.

In this article, we’ll discuss diversity and inclusion and how using both increase productivity, innovation and business value.

Key Takeaways

  • What do diversity and inclusion mean?
  • Learn the different types of diverse human characteristics.
  • Discover some methods for managing diverse and inclusive QA teams.
  • Understand why diverse and inclusive teams add more business value.
  • Discover the difference between inclusion and diversity.

What Do Diversity and Inclusion Mean?

First, diversity and inclusion are different but related concepts.

Diversity in broad terms is any dimension that is used to differentiate people. Diversity includes respecting and appreciating differences such as perspectives, beliefs, work experiences, lifestyles, cultures, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic status and age, to name a few. Diversity is a mix of variable human traits within a team.

Inclusion is the state of being valued, respected, listened to and supported. Inclusion ensures all team members can achieve their full potential equally. Inclusion creates a workplace culture of mutual respect and equitable access to training, promotions and work projects, where every team member feels valued for their unique qualities and experiences. Inclusion means getting a diverse team to work together effectively and productively.

How to Manage Diverse & Inclusive QA Teams

Managing a diverse and inclusive QA team takes dedication—dedication to creating an equitable, transparent and supportive workplace. Using diversity and inclusion creates teams that are engaged, productive and innovative, so getting there is well worth the effort.

The benefits of diverse and inclusive teams include more expansive test coverage. After all, diverse testers better understand the potential actions of diverse customers. Software applications are intended to work for any user including youngsters, seniors, people with disabilities and those technically advanced or inept. Diverse QA testing teams increase the chances of finding defects across a wider spectrum.

How do you get a diverse team to be inclusive and work together in a supportive, encouraging and equitable team? How do you manage fairly and deal with every team members’ opinion of the work, each other and the company?

Start by bringing the team together and discussing unconscious bias. Discuss unconscious bias in a way where team members can safely determine where their personal unconscious bias lies. Keep in mind, unconscious bias is not intentional discrimination but something you think and act on without realizing it. Unconscious bias is part of human nature and a workplace survival mechanism.

Discuss bias and then within the team:

  • Admit bias exists
  • Block bias in team processes
  • Address bias when it occurs

Block bias within the QA team by analyzing where in team dynamics or business process bias exists. For example, do all QA roles pay equally regardless of gender or race? Are all team members considered equally for promotions or special work projects?

Embrace different perspectives, opinions and backgrounds by getting team input on decisions. Make all decisions as a team with full transparency of both how and why the decision was made.

Being transparent does not mean sending a generic memo or email. Full transparency means having team members consider solutions, then select an option together. Decision transparency builds trust within teams and between team members.

Other opportunities to better manage inclusive and diverse QA teams include:

  • Providing outlets for feedback
  • Developing conflict management skills
  • Honing skills in emotional intelligence and self-awareness
  • Cultivating good communication skills
  • Practicing empathy
  • Maturing in cultural intelligence

Why Do Diverse & Inclusive Teams Add Business Value?

When teams are more diverse, they tend to disagree and discuss more options. Granted, it may take more time to hammer out details and come to a decision, but new ideas promote more unique innovation. Innovation is critical in application software development where competition is global and fierce.

Diverse teams poke holes in the established views, routines and business practices. More innovation to improve business processes and workflows will add greater efficiency and reduce business costs.

Employee engagement is another area where diverse teams add business value. Engagement is an ongoing and tricky team management problem. Team members stay more engaged when they can be themselves within a team and trust the business. Engaged employees are more productive and work for the long haul, not simply for the time being while they search for another position.

By actively supporting and working on diversity and inclusion within teams, companies build a more engaged, innovative and business-positive workforce. When team members can be themselves without having to “act white” or “act male” or otherwise pretend to be someone else to fit in, they are more productive and engaged. The more productive and engaged the employee, the more likely they are to stay and positively contribute to the business.

About the Author

Amy Reichert

A QA test professional with 23+ years of QA testing experience within a variety of software development teams, Amy Reichert has extensive experience in QA process development & planning, team leadership/management, and QA project management.  She has worked on multiple types of software development methodologies including waterfall, agile, scrum, kanban and customized combinations. Amy enjoys continuing to improve her software testing craft by researching and writing on a variety of related topics. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, cat management and the outdoors.


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