Camilla’s message is a reflection of frustration, courage and a call to action for leaders, practitioners, conference organizers and companies across the board. Her voice echoes many others as they struggle to find opportunities in a supportive and inclusive environment.

Many times, we take our privilege for granted — whether it’s our gender, the color of our skin, or our education. We have to evolve our thinking to ensure that we expand our perspective on what and means to us and to our organizations. We have to ask ourselves:

  • What can we do to promote a more inclusive environment?
  • What personal biases are driving some of our behaviors and decisions?
  • How can we engage and promote designers, women, people of color and underrepresented minorities?

While we may not be in a position to solve all issues associated with diversity and inclusion, as designers and leaders, we can take some steps.

Perform a self assessment on diversity and inclusion

We have many unconscious biases. We need to make a concerted effort to identify and recognize those behaviors and actions where we may be exclusive rather than inclusive. We can start with a simple list, and as our area of responsibility expands, our list may become a program or a more detailed plan of action.

We need to expand our understanding of diversity and inclusion.

Be aware of passive and active biased behavior

An aspect that is largely missing from this global conversation on diversity, is not only people becoming aware of what unconscious biases we have, but also what unconscious biases we might trigger in other people based on their personality, identity or background.

When we become more tolerant and aware of our own biases, we can help others identify their own and start developing tactics to both handle and mitigate them. If we do not approach it with a flexible mind, change gets crippled when our reactions reinforce those biased behaviors.

Look around our team, our organization

When we get to work, we should look at our team, our division, our organization. Is it diverse? Do we welcome diverse perspectives or are we hiring people that look like us, with a similar education and professional background?

Find a diversity champion, become a champion

Creating or expanding diversity in an organizational environment is not easy. We need to identify an executive champion in our organization. We should become diversity and inclusion champions too. We need to look for ways to align diversity with overall strategic goals for the organization.

Empower our teams

Enable designers to tackle diversity as a design problem. Organize workshops and study groups to identify potential outcomes that embrace a more diverse working environment. At the conclusion of these workshops and activities we must identify a plan of action. In addition, we should follow up with other areas of the organization like Recruiting and Human Resources and Training.

We need to be transparent about our team’s effort and lead by example. These changes may not happen overnight, they may be slow, but it is important that our teams demonstrate what diversity is and we get other areas involved in the process.

Create opportunities and provide visibility to designers in our teams

We must create opportunities to have a broad range of expertise in our teams. We need to hire junior designers, remove some of the restrictions that we or our organization imposes on new hires. An unfortunate trend in the design marketplace is the “minimum of 5 years of experience required, with a stellar portfolio” as the new entry level.

As hiring managers we are not creating opportunities for entry level roles. This creates a vacuum effect as we are not developing the mentors, coaches and leaders of the future.

We are also perpetuating the idea, from a position of privilege, that a college degree is required but equivalent work experience and certifications are not enough. We are raising the barrier of entry to a new generation of designers who can challenge us, enrich us and elevate our practice.

We must create a professional development system that requires senior designers to mentor and coach junior designers. Provide a platform for all the people in our team to have visibility in their product teams, in cross functional forums and in different areas of the business.

Open the door to diversity

The fight from minorities, women, POC and underrepresented groups is clear. We need to help each other get a foot in the door, get that first role, or get into a leadership position. We also need to encourage one another to give back, mentor and coach others, facilitate an introduction, make a connection, get someone past the biases of an applicant tracking system.

Promote diversity in Conferences

As presenters and participants we have the duty to ask conference organizers to have a speaker list that is gender-balanced and ethnically diverse.

Demonstrate the value of diversity

We need to identify quantitative and qualitative ways to measure the impact of diversity and inclusion.

Camilla told me that what caught her attention the most during my presentation was the importance of showing executives and business stakeholders the value of diversity within the teams.

Diversity helps us create disruptive solutions. Are we ready to embrace it?

Acknowledgement

I would like to thank Camilla Moura for allowing me to share her story, and for her ideas and feedback for this article.



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