Executives in the C-suite are challenged every day with making their company more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. They often work hard on the problems of hiring, firing, promotion, pay, and culture. But there is one area that should be obvious, but is often overlooked; Product Software.
In a world where many businesses interact with employees and users only through software and apps, software is often the external face of a business. Frequently, every day actions are referred to by the name of the software (I am going to “Google” this and many people interact with a company exclusively through software products.
But what happens if your software biases some users or employees to be more successful than others?
Even though your company may be taking steps to support DEI initiatives, it may be that the most public product your organization offers (your software) is giving the appearance that you don’t care enough to make it inclusive.
How many times have you heard “our customers mostly speak English” as an excuse for not supporting the local language in software?
Even if it is true that most people can speak English, if it is not their native tongue they will rarely be as fast or efficient as someone who is a native speaker.
In particular for those that are not extremely fluent, there is a translation process that happens in their head continuously as they work. This creates “language productivity bias” where native speakers appear to be smarter, faster, and more efficient than non-native speakers.
This bias is not something that can be made up through training or individual instruction. The software itself must work in the native language of the worker to produce the best results.
And it is not only in software development that the issue of inclusivity in language rears it’s ugly head, recently customers of software companies have begun demanding language/locale support. Human resource officers and leaders in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are rapidly purging any software that does not support the languages where the software is used.
Lack of DEI can affect outcomes
There are many ways that a lack of DEI in software can be a challenge for a non-native speaker and cause disruption to user experience and frustration for developers.
Sometimes companies will attempt to internationalize their software, but it will still be buggy in other languages. For example, concatenations may make quality translations nearly impossible. This creates additional, unfair burdens on non-English speakers who must wade through mistake after mistake to get the correct meaning. Frequently, they will resort to flipping to English to discover what the broken software was supposed to say. Obviously, this exacerbates the language productivity bias problem.
Errors and error correction
Non-native speakers have to contend with normal mistakes that everyone makes, but must also contend with language/gender/plural choices that seem trivial to native speakers. Languages often have a flow that is natural, easy, and intrinsic for native speakers, but difficult and choppy for non-native speakers.
Corrections and even complete rewrites are much more common for non-native speakers and writers. Even something as simply as a date field (m/d/yy vs d/m/yy) can create a stumbling block that creates an interruption in the work of a non-native speaker.
Studies show that non-native speakers are much more likely to experience fatigue on the job when working in their second language than in their native tongue. This fatigue can contribute to poorer performance, irritability, and more difficulty interacting with others. Working in a non-native software application all day every day can lead to burn out and job loss.
Anxiety and negative emotions
Working in software that is not global ready can create feelings of unfamiliarity and a sense of not belonging. These background anxiety issues may not present for months or even years, but nonetheless can have a cumulative impact.
Considering DEI in your software development makes your product better
Without improving the inclusivity of your software, users might not understand your messaging or the value of your software.
The future of software is limitless and at Lingoport, we’re at the center of globalization.
However, application deployments can be held back by the inability to localize effectively. Products such as Lingoport’s Localyzer can help. Localyzer automates tedious tasks, making updating translations and tracking development progress in real-time a breeze.
This technology represents a stride forward in providing globalized products to more users and with Localyzer, you’ll have a future-ready solution to your localization needs so you can deliver the best user experience with every release.
At Lingoport, we’re building the future of localization technology. We empower inclusivity in software development with a better approach to internationalization. When you need to learn about localization technology and how it helps your software company, contact us at Lingoport!