Meet Dana Land, Deliverability Consultant at HubSpot. She started her career in tech at a local Chicago startup before moving to HubSpot. Since joining, she has moved into the Product team and helped grow our Disability Alliance. In celebrating Disability Pride Month, we want to highlight the contributions that Disabled HubSpotters bring to our product. Here’s what Dana’s up to now…
Can you tell us a little about your journey to HubSpot as a Disabled individual?
Before HubSpot, I worked for a local Chicago tech startup. All of the rumors you’ve heard about working for a startup were true; I had a million job titles, worked long hours, and everyone wore Patagonia vests. Aside from not looking good in a vest, it wasn’t the best career fit for me.
When I was researching potential new companies, it was really difficult to find any information on Disability inclusion or belonging for each company. Many tech companies proudly show off their DI&B initiatives, especially in hiring documents, but Disability is often missing.
When I came across HubSpot, there were so many amazing Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DI&B) initiatives and something in my gut told me that I wouldn’t have to hide my disability here. When I interviewed for HubSpot, I mentioned in every conversation that I had a disability. Even though there is a risk in disclosing a disability in an interview, as so many employers have internal biases against disabled individuals, it paid off for me at HubSpot. Each person I brought it up to was open and welcoming, which reassured me that this was the company I needed to be at.
When I joined HubSpot, there was no official Employee Resource Group for Disabled individuals - there still isn’t but we are working on it! Another member of the Product organization, Niki Kuchipudi, took initiative and started a slack channel for disabled individuals, giving us a community and a space to advocate for disability inclusion at HubSpot. It has since grown to over 500 members!
Here I am, 2 years and 8 months later, happy to have been welcomed to HubSpot, the Disability Alliance, and the Product org.
Describe a typical day in your role.
Have you ever seen those jokes about how “consultant” is a fake job title and even consultants don’t know what they do? I think that is what people hear when I describe my role. The role of Email Deliverability Consultant only makes sense once you are one, or if you’ve had the chance to work closely with one. So I will do my best to describe it in one sentence: I help make sure our customers can get their marketing emails into the primary inbox.
To achieve that goal, I spend most of my day helping make sure our sending network stays healthy, helping solve technical issues with our platform, collaborating with product managers on how deliverability affects their product area and product improvements, and consulting with account managers on how to solve deliverability issues that their customers are facing.
I also love creating internal documentation that makes technical topics easy and fun to read. I’ve even hidden a pet pic or two in my documentation to help spice things up! Sometimes you need to take a break reading about DKIM signatures to look at a photo of a cute corgi, right?
On the side, I also participate in the Disability Alliance at HubSpot, though I recently stepped back from helping lead the core group to focus on my health.
How do you include Disability inclusion + accessibility into the HubSpot product?
When I am meeting with designers and software engineers, accessibility may not even be spoken about, so sometimes it starts with asking a question like one of the following:
- “Is that tooltip accessible to screen readers?”
- “Will that video have captions?”
- “Will this leave room for accessibility improvements long term?”
In the work I directly have my hands on, I continually try to learn about different accessibility elements and apply them whenever possible. Did you know screen readers may have trouble reading lowercase hashtags? #CapitalizeIt. Each time I learn something new, I share it with our team and encourage them to do the same.
I have also personally led empathy sessions within our product group to help bring awareness to the larger group of product managers, technical leads, designers, software engineers, etc. My hope is that they will take that awareness and start building with accessibility in mind from the start.
What can other businesses do to improve accessibility into their Product?
Shift your team's focus from the “average” user over to the “universal” user. Is your product not often utilized by disabled consumers because they are uninterested? Or are they uninterested because your product is inaccessible?
The American Institutes for Research estimates that the Disabled market controls $490 billion dollars in disposable income. We are not a market you want to miss.
Have your teams do a deep dive into universal design and find things in their life that were originally items made for accessibility but improved the lives of all people. For example, curb cuts aren’t just for wheelchairs. Strollers, bikes, pets, grocery carts all benefit from that gentle slope.
After that, do some market research. What are your competitors doing for accessibility? If you can, actually try to navigate your competitor’s product, and your own products using accessibility tools. Help your team see the very real users they will delight, the new consumers they will bring in, the pioneers they can be while building in this space. Could you be the first in your market to make a totally accessible product or tool? Can you be the one to build a better, more accessible product?
How can other tech companies recruit Disabled individuals into their Product orgs?
Publicize your Disability inclusion efforts! And if you don’t have any to share yet, now is a great time to start. Start your own Disability Alliance, make sure captions are readily available, be flexible with remote or hybrid work, and make it a place where employees are happy to disclose their disabilities, to bring all of who they are to work.
Another tip: don’t wait for your interviewees to request accommodations. Many disabled people will skip asking for them in fear during the interview stages. Offer accommodations freely and openly at the start of the process.
The Tech industry is so often full of leaders and innovation, so there is no reason for tech companies to be behind on accessibility in their product or in their internal culture. I really enjoyed the blog post Hiring (and Retaining) a Diverse Engineering Team for additional guidance on recruiting. The post shares tips for all aspects of diversity.
Outside of work, what do you like to do in your free time?
Currently, I am all about building miniatures! I’ve been following kits to help introduce me to the world of miniatures. I have now built a tiny kitchen, garden, and office. Currently, I am recreating my grandfather’s childhood home as a miniature. Turns out, it is great that I pursued tech instead of being an architect. Trying to do the math to build a beautiful historic building, but at a 1/16th scale is a lot harder than I assumed it would be! Check back in a few months, I may have a miniature historic Chicago 3-flat to show you… if I can figure out the numbers.