Breaking Barriers:
Addressing the Limited Representation of People of Color in Product Management

Product management is a crucial discipline within the business landscape, guiding the development and success of innovative and impactful products. However, the representation of people of color in product management roles remains low, highlighting a pressing need for increased diversity and inclusion in this field. According to Zippia, 65% of the over 40,000 product managers in the US are men and 74% are white.

Statistically, people of color are underrepresented in product management roles across various industries. There have been some positive developments in recent years, such as increased awareness and initiatives focused on diversity, but the progress has been slow. When it comes to higher tiers the numbers are even more stark. Studies have shown that the representation of people of color in leadership positions within product management teams is significantly lower compared to their white counterparts.

Several factors contribute to the limited representation of people of color in product management. Unconscious biases, systemic barriers, and limited access to networks and opportunities can hinder the entry of talented individuals from underrepresented backgrounds.

Additionally, the absence of role models and mentors who look like them within the product management field can further discourage aspiring professionals of color from pursuing careers in this domain. Limited exposure to product management as a viable career path and a lack of targeted support programs can also contribute to the underrepresentation.

Embracing diversity in product management is not just about inclusivity; it is a strategic imperative. A diverse product management team brings a wealth of perspectives, experiences, and insights, enabling organizations to better understand and cater to the needs of diverse customer bases. It fosters creativity, and innovation, and enhances problem-solving capabilities, ultimately leading to more successful and inclusive products. Inclusive products should be a goal of companies as the market is enormous, and overlooked. According to a 2021 analysis by the University of Georgia, people of color are exercising greater spending power than ever before in the United States. The sustained growth of the U.S. economy culminated in an estimated $14.8 trillion of buying power nationally in 2018, an increase of 100 percent since 2000 and 30 percent since 2010, with minority markets accounting for $3.9 trillion of that total

The outlook is not hopeless though it isn’t currently promising. With some effort to create a more inclusive and diverse product management landscape, organizations and individuals can take proactive steps:

To maximize the potential of the product management field, it is essential to address the limited representation of people of color. By implementing inclusive hiring practices, establishing mentorship programs, providing education and training opportunities, and fostering community building, we can build a more diverse and inclusive product management landscape. Embracing diversity will not only create a fairer and more equitable environment but also fuel innovation, enhance customer understanding, and drive success in the ever-evolving business world. It is time to break down the barriers and unlock the untapped potential of people of color in product management.

Contributed By:
Cabril DeAbreu (2023-06-01)