Hope Is Not A Method: How improving diversity in your design team makes better products and what you can do about it.

Did you know that seat-belted female drivers and children in actual crashes have a 47% higher chance of serious injuries than belted male drivers in comparable collisions?

Did you know that certain brands of automatic public bathroom soap dispensers and faucets can’t activate when approached by dark-skinned hands?

The lack of diversity and inclusion in product and service design is how things like this happen. When a homogenous group of designers and engineers is producing products and services for a vast set of diverse people, they intentionally or unintentionally immortalize their biases in the things they create. Even the most well-intentioned designers, regardless of the amount of research they actively perform, can be grossly unaware of their own blind spots. Without a diverse group of teammates around them to raise awareness, biases will perpetuate. And if those teams are designing products where safety is a factor, it can become an issue of life and death.

So how do we fix this?

In this talk I discuss the business benefits of a diverse and inclusive design team, identify strategies to grow a more diverse team while understanding anti-discrimination laws, and share 3 things anyone can do tomorrow to move the needle. Lastly, I discuss how you can raise awareness about this topic within your broader organization.

The ability to improve diversity in a design team falls squarely on the shoulders of the design managers with budgetary and hiring duties. However, the responsibility to promote and sustain an inclusive environment belongs to all of us.

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