No matter where in the world you do business, your customers know you by your products. The rules you set regarding how they can use those products directly affects how much people trust you. If a policy loophole allows someone to use your product to cause harm, repairing that harm won’t necessarily repair the damage done to your reputation. 

What’s the connection between ethical innovation, inclusion, and products? Learn more about our ethical use policy.

If you show people that you’ll do the work to make your products safe, effective, and reliable for their diverse communities, you give them a reason to choose your company over more shortsighted competitors. In other words, global product policy helps you do business responsibly in an increasingly connected world. 

Such policy can also save your company money by reducing the cost — in time, labor, and lost value — of rolling back, fixing, and re-introducing a product that misses the mark on trust. Here are three tips to help you create a responsible product policy for today’s world.

And don’t forget customer insights. Contact the people and organizations who use a product, and work with them to craft policies around their needs and create trust-based relationships with those you serve. 

What you can do today: As a team, organization, or company, take inventory of what work you do, where it happens, and who does it. Look for gaps between the things you provide — products, services, and support — and the communities that receive your services. Find one new voice from a community not currently involved in your international product policy discussions and see how that perspective shapes your decisions. 

Because of that history, it’s important to be intentional and deliberate about examining the historical contexts in which you’re providing services, and the reality of the world we live in today.

Navigating these kinds of changes isn’t always easy or comfortable, but you can ask specific questions to ensure you’re being intentional, such as:

These questions push you to deliberately consider the impact on your customers and the wider community. 

What you can do today: Invest in focus groups to start collecting in-depth feedback about your policy and its impact on local communities. This can be a great way to move from general policy considerations to specific tweaks that consider different locations and cultures. With good product policy, being in a different place doesn’t have to mean getting a less satisfying experience. 

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Although writing product policy can give the veneer of “doing enough,” it rarely is in the real world. When creating effective global product policy, ask the following:

Answering these questions also lets you consider whether the problem looks the same in different parts of the world. This may feel like a small exercise, but it’s the most important one — a small push that starts you off in the right direction. 

We’ve put together a custom learning path to help you create products with ethics, accessibility, and inclusion at their core.

In many cases like the one above, a policy isn’t the only solution to a potential problem. Instead, it helps widen your focus to include products, processes, and all the ways your organization influences the people and places it serves. 

This kind of community-focused flexibility encourages companies to learn from a product’s creators while applying that knowledge to new, diverse contexts. In turn, companies building products for a diverse world can learn and adapt based on how different communities use the tools they create, informing future international product policy choices that can:

What you can do today: Pick a pain point in your organization, and work with your team to list different types of solutions. Some might be entirely policy-based, while others require additional research, a change to the product or service, or in-depth guides. You don’t necessarily have to implement a change here — the goal is to build a muscle for multipronged problem solving.

Taking the time to explore multiple perspectives and think carefully about your approach may seem like a big investment, but you’ll end up saving time and effort. And the sooner you broaden your organization’s perspective, account for historic injustice, and coordinate your policy with other business solutions, the easier it will be to fully connect in any community. 

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