Achieving Diversity in Software Testing

Diversity in the workplace is a hugely important topic. The need to be more inclusive and representative in teams across the globe is still as pressing as ever. And with tech, this is no different.

According to Diversity in Tech, in the UK, only 15% of the tech workforce are from BAME backgrounds and gender diversity is currently sitting at 19% compared to 49% for all other jobs. 

And when the technology industry is growing almost three times faster than the whole UK economy, companies must make changes now to ensure diversity grows with this rapidly expanding sector. 

What do we mean by diversity?

Diversity is not just about achieving an equal split of genders in the workplace or hiring more BAME candidates. Although these two things are extremely important, true diversity should be a building block of everything tech companies do. And this expands beyond what many assume to mean ‘diverse workplaces’.

Diversity is also about sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, different abilities, faith, age and more. These different factors mould and shape our experiences, making each of us unique, and able to bring new perspectives to tech teams.

Within tech teams, diversity is much more than an ‘ideal’. It is a necessary step to take to ensure the future success of the business. And this is proven too.

According to Harvard Business Review, companies with higher-than-average diversity had 19% higher innovation revenues. And a report by McKinsey found that companies in the top quarter for racial/ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to surpass peers, while those in the same bracket for gender diversity are 15% more likely to do the same.

By embracing different perspectives, teams can develop new and creative solutions and ideas. And this will lead to tangible results.

Why does this matter in testing?

You might ask: what does this all have to do with QA?

Software testing is all about investigating a product, exploring and experimenting with it to discover any potential bugs or issues. It’s about ensuring that developers ship a high-quality product to market that customers can’t help but love. At the very heart of QA is user experience. 

And user experience is all about people.

Now, if your team of software developers are all from similar backgrounds, of the same ethnic group and same socioeconomic status, the likelihood is that the app will be created (and tested) in a very similar mindset. You draw on your own experiences and perspectives when creating anything, and developing an app is no different. 

But an app created for a hyper-specific target audience can only go so far. If you want your business to grow, you need to ensure your product has a wider appeal. After all, the goal of any tech company is to match the rapid growth of the industry around it.

For your product to be used and enjoyed by a variety of users - old, young, those with disabilities, those who are bilingual, those who are from a different ethnic group, it is essential that it is subject to diverse testing. 

What might seem like great UX to a university student, may seem much more difficult to an older person who may struggle with dexterity. For a native English speaker, certain instructions may seem simple and easy to understand, but for someone whose second language is English, this same set of instructions may be inaccessible. 

Having a diverse team of testers increases the likelihood of uncovering issues that a less diverse team would not. 

And having a diverse team of software developers increases the chance of these issues never arising in the first place. 

A key example

In a recent webinar with Global App Testing, Mark Eldred, Director in the Quality and Test Engineering Practice at Deloitte, spoke about the benefit of a diverse group of testers in regards to the A-Level issue that occurred recently in the UK.

As a result of exam cancellations due to coronavirus, the government created an algorithm to predict A-Level results. The fear was that if only teacher predictions were used, there would be a grade surge. This is due to the fact that teacher’s base their predictions on an understanding of students skills and in-class performance. Exams can be a whole different story when students are placed under pressure.  

For that reason, an algorithm was created that took into account a number of factors like previous grades, class size, predicted grades and so on. 

“The algorithm the government came up with had a number of really significant flaws. They decided the small group sizes would use heavier weighted teacher predictions. This meant anyone associated with that group would have much better results than everyone else on average. 

The group they identified was groups of children working in relatively small class sizes with a long history of high teacher predications. That means independent (private) schools.”

Mark’s hypothesis was that the group of people tasked with testing that algorithm were not sufficiently diverse, so they didn’t ask the sort of questions like:

“I come from a poorer background, and I was the first person in my family to apply to university, I wonder what this algorithm would have done to my results?”

If the testing team had been more diverse, this would’ve highlighted the potential issues the algorithm could have, and did, in fact, create. 

A diverse team will ask questions that a less diverse team wouldn’t think about. 

How you can achieve diversity

Diversity shouldn’t just be prevalent in your testers. It should be a central part of your organisation.

Ensuring diversity in your tech team can be done in a number of ways. Here are just a few:

  • Make a clear commitment: your company should clearly establish its commitment to achieving diversity in your workforce. Make sure potential applicants, current employees and investors know that diversity is a goal. 
  • Set targets: diversity shouldn’t be a distant goal for a future version of the organisation. By setting targets for diversity in your hiring process you can ensure you have a benchmark to measure yourself against. This way, you can walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
  • Recognise unconscious bias: We all have unconscious biases, it is a fact of life. Even down to favouring applicants that went to your university, each of us makes judgements on people as a result of their past, gender, and so on. Recognising this, and addressing it, is key.
  • Ensure you have a diverse interview panel: If unconscious bias is anything to go by, a diverse interview panel will help you uncover it. Having a diverse interview panel will make sure you get a range of perspectives on candidates, not just a one-sided view.
  • Be inclusive: Unfair treatment in the workplace is the largest driver of turnover in the tech industry (Diversity in Tech), so put the relevant steps in place to create a positive environment for all employees.

Finding diverse testers

Sourcing diverse testers from a range of different backgrounds is simple with Global App Testing.

Our solution works with your team to leverage your current QA capabilities and help you to scale your testing capacity. 

We have over 40,000 testers in 189 countries. This means you can test with a diverse range of testers from across the globe, and achieve results fast. Our in-house team will receive bug reports from testers and moderate these in 48 hours or less. 

“It’s like having an extension of our own testing resources in the countries where we can’t operate full time.”

- Raymond Torcuator, Localization Testing Project Manager at Canva

By unlocking a world of testing possibilities with our solution, you can ensure you deliver a high-quality product that has been subject to exploratory testing from testers that speak a range of language, use different device/ OS combinations, come from different cultures and live in different countries.

As well as helping you achieve effective localization, the use of crowdtesting delivers diversity in your testing too. 

Diversity in your software testing, and diversity in your tech team, will help you on the road to growth.

Speak to one of our growth experts today to find out how we can help you achieve diversity in your testing, and deliver high-quality software at speed.