Design With Diversity

I hear a lot about designing for diversity, but what are we doing about enhancing, fostering, protecting Design With Diversity, how much is design open to the  impact and values of diversity and inclusion in its process, ethics, deliverables, results

I work in a very diverse and inclusive corporation, it originated in Europe more than 100 years ago and it is a global operation, among other things it moves people around from different countries, it’s pretty meritocratic and if anyone looked at the diversity and inclusiveness data I would say we score pretty well. The other day I was at a corporate meeting and presented to a large number of people, 4 times. I was doing so with a couple of colleagues that originate from different geographies. I am also from a  different geography but I have been long enough in this one and in contact with the English language that I may deceive a few. At the end, while chatting and collecting feedback, someone said that I had the best language skills and that they understood everything I said, I replied that this was the price of diversity and inclusion and the person nodded and went away, not sure if understanding my point.

These two colleagues of mine are rock stars, they have experience, knowledge, a career built on results, but their spoken English is not perfect, the accent is heavy and they are not completely at ease presenting. Corporations that want diversity and inclusion need to work on it, support, reinforce, change the rules, create space, and this comes with a price like everything else in life. If an organization of men that dress in blue and think the same way pays a price, a diverse and inclusive organization pays a price. And I wonder if corporations are aware of this price, if they are prepared to pay for it, if they train their people who ultimately pay that price on a daily basis, if they are able to communicate the advantages of diverse and inclusive corporations, the value it generates, fabric it creates, resilience it generates. And I wonder if people that want diversity and inclusion understand the implications, and are prepared to adjust, to make concessions, to adapt and gladly pay the price

À propos… a few years ago I wrote about diversity in cities and corporations, this was 2007 when “… in France youths burned down vehicles, in an enraged response to the so called failure in the REAL integration of the different cultures that migrate to this country. In companies, people are not yet burning down their boss’s cars, but they are manifesting their unhappiness in many other ways. Reality is that diversity brings responsibility, and companies want this diversity but don’t always understand the effect and the responsibility of that diversity. One of my “chiefs” the other day talked how the organization he worked in before was filled with people that dressed the same, wanted the same from life, went to the same places, and that our company had a large diversity of people, different backgrounds from different cultures. I felt there was a certain “those where the good old days” sound to it, since a system made of very similar people might be more boring (his words), but it considerably reduces the noise and the disruption typical of a diverse ambient. This diversity, this desirable merge of cultures does not form a distinct and integrated culture just like that. As with cities, these cultures end up creating their ghettos and areas where they exercise their habits and limit other cultures. It all seems to work till there is a spark that ignites the fire, and then everyone talks about the obvious, that there isn’t an integrated culture. Old companies sorted this out easily, they separated these people in groups that basically didn’t meet except on office days, where they could all exercise their social skills

Let’s not forget that, jut as the migration phenomena is irreversible, professional migration is also a fact. With the globalization of educational standards in the so called western world, no longer a company can afford not to have diversity, unless they accept that you should always hire local even if that means not hiring the best prepared, interesting and open minded. But also the person that is hungrier, more ambitious and most of the times, cheaper that local resources.”

I hear a lot about designing for diversity, but what are we doing about enhancing, fostering, protecting Design With Diversity, how much is design open to the  impact and values of diversity and inclusion in its process, ethics, deliverables, results?

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