This insight describes a context in which designers are not selected for the job, not invited, not mentored and groomed for it. While many designers cite this as a true insight impacting the reality described by the question we pose, this is seen by non-designers as a typical complaint of a group of people that don’t try hard enough to get these jobs. Some clearly stated there is a hierarchy mismatch, it could be the same number of years of experience, but one is a business leader and is a VP and the designers is a director, that there is a bias. We asked why they were not being taken into account, the answer seems to be that designers haven’t been given opportunity to prove themselves at that level, their role has not been validated, customer centricity has not been taken seriously, we are still into technology mode, experience in this domain is new.
There is a hand full of specialized design and creative executive search boutiques in the US, and a few more throughout the world, many stemming from the same outfit or mentor. These people, because many of them relate to the job as people placing designers via personal relationships, are hired by some corporations to fill their top-level design positions, we have no data to prove how many design executives are placed via internal promotion and how many come via executive search, but these companies boast a pretty hefty placement history.
The other executive seats are filled by internal promotion or executive placement, but it looks like these executive placement companies, large multinationals with offices throughout the world, don’t have designers in their databases. While these companies may not be the major obstacle for the scarcity of designers in C-Suite positions in large companies, the fact that they don’t have designers in their databases and therefore don’t understand how to place them, leaves designer executive placement in the hands of the specialized companies, which in itself makes the whole selection and placement process special in nature, less streamlined like with other executives.
Others have disagreed and stated that what sits behind permission is fear, and they state that It has been the right of the professional practice of design to have a seat at the table since the inception of the industry, we just stopped demanding it.