Questions Collected For Design × Inclusion and Diversity Conversation

These questions were touched upon at our recent impromptu conversation — summary with audio is right here.

DESIGN AS A TOPIC

  • Do Design Thinking initiatives have a real measurable impact on organizations or is it just perceived as innovative and ideas don’t get implemented?
  • Arturo Escobar described design as a tool of capitalist modernity, and Jared Spool recently tweeted words to the effect that good designers frame their efforts towards increasing revenue and decreasing costs. Is design just a hand-maid of the modern capitalist/neo-liberal order? And if so, is that a good thing? Should we be working towards alternative visions of design?
  • Even though the role of design has expanded to business using a human-centered approach, I wonder why design still has a very elitist impression of designers as a maker, builder and a visualizer?

ABILITIES AND ACCESSIBILITY

  • Is there a repository of examples of good, accessible design? I don’t know very much about accessibility on screens (for visual impairment, information processing challenges, etc) but I’d like to learn more.
  • How to adapt user research methodologies for capturing the goals, needs, and pain-points of differently-abled users.
  • How can this kind of impromptu conversation work if you are hearing impaired? Answer: You can make it easier to join if fewer people are talking at once.

TERMINOLOGY AND PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS

  • When it comes to conferences, it starts with the planning committee. Why are people afraid to list ‘diversity’ as a core value for their events?
  • Are we after equal outcomes or equal opportunity?
  • By explicitly seeking individuals from traditionally under-represented groups, are we discriminating against the majority? Is that a problem?

THE DIVERSITY OF DIVERSITY

  • EDUCATION DIVERSITY/ How are organizations addressing diverse educational backgrounds (accredited vs non acredited vs no degree) to increase inclusion in their teams?
  • AGE DIVERSITY/ What are ways to foster inclusion in tech with older populations and/or people in the workforce?
  • VISIBLE DIFFERENCE DIVERSITY/ How can we work against discrimination based on factors that are used as proxies for ethnic/cultural/gender traits? (E.g. language, manners, dress, etc)
  • INTELLECTUAL DIVERSITY/ I am interested in the topic of diversity of thought across corporate silos and how it impacts the flow of Innovation.
  • SOCIOECONOMIC DIVERSITY/ I’m glad you’re talking about inclusivity in addition to accessibility. Not only is the field very Caucasian, it is also very middle class. Very few people from lower economic statuses are represented in the field. Why?
  • LANGUAGE DIVERSITY/ English as a second language is a topic I’d like to bring up. What can this group of people say about this topic?
  • INTER-/INTRA-LANGUAGE DIVERSITY/ The variety of languages and dialects throughout the world are a challenge we face today when communicating and understanding each other, moving forward what are some ways tech & design can further improve and innovate on this language barrier?

HOW DO YOU BUILD A DIVERSE TEAM?

  • What more can we do to ensure that diverse teams become the de facto of the industry?
  • How do I increase further adoption of D&I initiatives within my seed stage startup? We only have 8 employees now, but naturally we tend to hire those we know first that “look and feel” a lot more like us. What are some ways/ideas to win further buy-in on D&I? Is there any websites or programs you recommend? Any tactics such as blind interviews that may be easy to try to push internal? Thank you!
  • Answer: Learning many “languages” is key. In order to diversify tech, managers need to learn how to communicate differently and more effectively with folks from diverse backgrounds, just as much as recruits need a particular skillset.
  • How do you enact change when the product design team leadership (creative director and senior mgrs) don’t believe the lack of diversity on our team is a problem? In their view, they believe addressing this issue runs counter to having a meritocracy (“We’re just focused on hiring ‘the best.’ And our team is already diverse compared to engineering and product – we’re already ahead of other departments.’) Additionally, our company in general is resistant to internship and apprenticeship programs.

DO YOU NEED TO BE CAREFUL OF WHAT YOU WISH FOR?

  • Is a diverse team harder to manage then an homogeneous team? Is it harder to build a strong company culture when the team is more diverse? I know these are provocative question and I’m asking those because I’ve been trying to build a diverse design team but people mingle and relate much less with each other than before, when we were a not so diverse team.
  • When you embrace diversity and inclusion – sometimes it’s positive and sometimes it’s an ‘epic fail. But it ended up being the opposite in the case of the food that was served. How do you get it more right and less wrong?

LOOKING FOR GOOD EXAMPLES TO TAKE THE NEXT STEP

  • I’m fearful that diversity initiatives don’t matter when leadership doesn’t proactively change. What are some examples of creating inclusion on product/design teams?
  • How can education institutions focusing on #DesignInTech do more to advance inclusion and inclusive practices?
    Answer: Academic institutions are slow to change, but I strongly believe engaging with communities and companies will effect and accelerate inclusion in academia.
  • What are the most tangible ways to move diversity and inclusion further for the individual person?
  • How do you fight for inclusion without making it seem like there’s a “normal”? How do fight for inclusion without limiting it to the margins? For greater buy-in that truly captures the meaning of diversity?
  • It seems that many of these diversity/inclusion discussions are starting from the “bottom”. For larger organizations it needs to also include sincere top down initiatives. With that in mind, what are key actions in an organization to drive change in the company culture that fosters diversity and inclusion?
  • What are some positive examples of inclusivity in design?
  • What do you think is the most sustainable model for diversity and inclusion?

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