D×D Year-Two: Progress & Impact

January 26, 2023


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The coalition’s momentum

While the excitement and promise of the new year is still in the air, the team at Impact Collaborative would like to take a moment to express our heartfelt appreciation to our partners and collaborators across the design industry. It is with your insights, experience, and expertise that, together, we successfully embarked on a mission to transform the design ecosystem with Diversify by Design (D×D) — a coalition whose end goal is to see a design profession that embodies the rich diversity of our global society.

D×D was researched, vetted, and conceived in collaboration with vital voices and changemakers of color in design — those at eye-level with the challenges people of color face getting into design and who have worked tirelessly to solve for those challenges. Since our formal launch in January of 2021, we’ve seen concerted efforts on the part of industry and education to create greater diversity in their ranks, yet there is still so much more that must be done.

Many are going it alone and several are meeting with short-term success. But systemic change is a long game. One that requires all hands on deck, working together with common goals and cohesive approaches; not just lip service or the latest hiring algorithm. Especially with an industry whose products and outputs are as ubiquitous as design.

Humans are not one-size, let alone culture, fits all. And neither should be the people that ideate, create, and design the things we use and how and where we use them. Yet the design industry continues to be dominantly white. This is not reflective of our diverse society and is not going to change until the thinking, behaviors, and systems that got us here change. It can’t be just about inclusion. We must focus on the right to belong. Where all diverse backgrounds are intentionally, actively, and fully represented and supported.

It can feel daunting, especially with a change of this magnitude. But it is doable. We know it is. We’ve learned that activating measurable, transformational, systemic change is not achievable in isolation. It takes the resources and long-term commitment of a broad coalition of organizations, institutions, companies, and individuals that share a collective definition of the problem and dedication to right-siding it.

There are small-scale solutions: programs that are making critical headway, inch-by-inch, that need a larger community behind them to support and bolster their work. As well as significant gaps to fill where the work of opportunity and equity are unmet.

D×D has demonstrated the power of collaboration through the launch of two powerful initiatives that 1) raise awareness of design as a career option to Black, Brown, and Indigenous youth and 2) provide historically-excluded design students in higher ed with real-world industry experience to boost their portfolios and give them a leg up on employment opportunities. And we've only just begun this journey.

We’re excited to share the progress and impact D×D has made in a short amount of time and what we have in store for 2023. So, read on. Get a taste of the exciting things D×D is making happen. Get inspired. And, if you and your organization want to be part of creating a more just and equitable design profession, join us! Check out the options as a Partner, Designer, Mentor or Educator.

2022 Highlights

D×D seeks solutions to inequity at every point in the design journey — from exposure to design, design education and experience, to employment opportunities and empowerment throughout the ecosystem.

Youth Exposure: Design=

Design= introduces Black, Latinx, and Indigenous youth to core design concepts and how design can be a viable career path for them. 

  • In collaboration with D×D Program Partner, designExplorr, and Foundational Sponsor, Amazon, Design= has reached more than 900 middle and high school youth since October 2021, through live workshops in seven cities: Akron, Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC. 
  • Led by Program Partner, Project Osmosis, D×D co-developed a no-cost design curriculum kit in collaboration with Amazon. The open access kit will be available to educators, professional designers, and youth mentors later this year. 
  • Intuit joined as a partner of the initiative, enabling D×D to offer more workshops to historically excluded youth in the Detroit and Washington, DC metro areas this spring.
Education & Experience: D×D Intensives

D×D Intensives is a signature program that brings together industry and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) to fill the gaps that historically excluded students often face: limited networking, professional mentorship, and internship opportunities.

Providing students with meaningful hands-on experience that hones their critical thinking, teamwork, and collaboration skills; D×D Intensives helps build their portfolios; and connects them to career designers, while our industry partners receive the much needed exposure to diverse perspectives and start the hard work of building inclusive environments.

Partnering with San Francisco State University, Delta Dental of California, and Workday, D×D Intensives has impacted 85 students, 32 mentors, and 5 educators over the last three semesters. A student from the Spring 2022 cohort interned at Delta Dental and was then offered a full time design staff position.

D×D Partners & Advisors

In addition to welcoming Intuit and Workday, Dwell with Dignity and SOTA became D×D Partners. In total, 17 nonprofit, education, association, agency, and industry organizations are now engaged in the coalition to help support, inform, and activate D×D priorities and initiatives. 

D×D priorities are shaped by our group of Advisors, who bring their lived experiences and unique lenses to the table. Composed of 17 subject matter and community experts who shape priorities for the coalition, 8 new Advisors joined us in 2023. 

  1. Alfredo Weeks, Partner, Fringe 22 Studio & Adjunct Professor, Columbus College of Art & Design
  2. Ashley Noelle Sharp, Executive Director of Dwell with Dignity & Executive Board Member, Fast Company
  3. Dian Holton, Senior Deputy Art Director, AARP
  4. Dorothy Dunn, Principal, Dorothy Dunn & Associates and President, ISDA Foundation
  5. Jasmine Cordero, Associate User Experience Researcher, Delta Dental
  6. Kelli Wilbert, Principal Program Manager for UX Equity, Workday
  7. Sharon Oiga, Chair of Graphic Design, University of Illinois at Chicago
  8. Vanessa Cuevas, Associate Product Designer, Delta Dental

We also activated 4 working groups to focus efforts across the design journey, from youth exposure and education to experience, employment, and empowerment. Working groups consist of D×D Advisors as well as design professionals, educators, and industry leaders committed to racial equity in the industry. 

What’s in store for 2023

With the momentum and leadership we gained this year, our goals for 2023 include:

  • Scale Design='s reach to even more historically excluded high school youth by partnering with key school systems and CBOs to launch the comprehensive design curriculum. The free, open access kit will include tools for educators and hands-on lessons for students.
  • Expand D×D Intensives with the onboarding of additional Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), community colleges, and industry partners.
  • Bridge existing gaps and co-develop new initiatives that tackle the employment and empowerment steps of the designer journey with D×D Partners, Advisors, and Working Groups. For example, how can we redesign recruitment and employment practices to increase representation and hiring of Black, Brown, and Indigenous candidates? And, how can we ensure that they are supported and empowered every step of the way?

So! What are You waiting for? Get inspired by DxD and all we’ve got going on. And, when you and your organization are ready to be part of creating a more just and equitable design profession, join us! Because it’s not a matter of “if” anymore.

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