June 18, 2020
Design for Diversity Initiative
By Rukmini Patel
Design Industry

Following the events of the Black Lives Matter movement, there were a lot of voices some shocked, some outraged, but all in all, everyone wanted to see change. After the black squares were posted on Blackout Tuesday a lot of people asking “What now?” Nobody seemed to have a way forward. People wanted a change but no one knew how that looked and people were turning to industry leaders who also didn’t know what to do or where to go next.

Having spoken to many in the Black, Asian and Ethnic Minorities in the design industry, hearing the frustrations and experiences it was obvious there was a lot of work that needed to be done. This was a multifaceted issue, the lack of representation could be seen in many areas of the industry such as events, magazines & publications, awards and more.

Design for Diversity, The Pledge is a new and exciting initiative. It is a first step to working towards a diverse design industry and giving brands, businesses and bloggers a guideline on areas they can work on.

I wanted to help and so I decided to write a blog post on How to be Diverse in the Design Industry. Kate from Mad About the House had also written about the Lack of Diversity in Interiors the same week. After connecting with Kate on Instagram, we shared and echoed the voices that we heard following The Great Indoors Podcast and our blogs. After a few hours of brainstorming the Design for Diversity initiative, The Pledge was born.

We want to open doors for the Black and POC community, we want to see more initiatives and internships. The Pledge this will help open doors which were once closed. Dismantling systemic racism can be done and I truly believe we can create change if we work together.

The idea behind The Pledge is to place the “sticker” visibly on your website which will lead to a page stating The Pledge. The sticker will indicate that you are open to working with all walks of life, Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority individuals throughout.

It also allows the Black and POC community to see that you are approachable and that you want to work with them. This is where we could see a profound impact on diversity. Like a beacon of light to say we are open to business from all backgrounds.

Design for Diversity Initiative

We would really like to encourage all businesses, brands, bloggers, designers and stylists to embrace The Design for Diversity initiative. We each have a responsibility to play in the design industry no matter how big or small your business. In order to create a change, we need to work together.

Kate and I hope businesses will use this as a starting point to help guide them. By creating solutions of their own internal and in turn providing accessibility to Black and POC individuals. We also ask each business to use the sticker responsibly and by ensuring they are taking measures within their business to ensure they are being inclusive.

It could be that you start looking at your hiring process to ensure you have a diverse range of candidates, or your marketing shows a diversity in the imagery. If you are a blogger and hold events ensure your panels and guests are diverse. If you are an interior designer or stylist you can look to find suppliers from a diverse background or if you are hiring, look at candidates from all backgrounds.

There are so many areas each business can work on and we feel it is up to the individual business to work out for themselves what they need to improve on. Through the Design for Diversity initiative, we hope it will guide and sprout ideas.

Let’s get into the details.

How does it work?

The Design for Diversity initiative can be endorsed by placing a sticker on your website, somewhere visible (more details on how to receive it below).

Along with the sticker we will provide you with The Pledge wording below to be placed on your website. We suggest to create a link from the logo which leads to The Pledge wording: 

Design for Diversity Initiative

We are also encouraging businesses to add their top line to show how they are embracing The Pledge specifically for their business. E.g. I run a shop and while I have a range of suppliers and products I would always welcome more submissions and products from BIPOC designers and suppliers.

We will provide some examples when you sign up.

How can I get the sticker?

Please email myself or Kate on:

Info@rukminipatel.com 

Kate@madaboutthehouse 

Or simply click on the sign up button below:

We will provide three different colour variations depending on what works best on your website. 

Design for Diversity Initiative

Brown background

Design for Diversity Initiative

Cream background

Design for Diversity Initiative

White background

Who is it for?

The Pledge is for businesses, brands and bloggers, interior designers and stylists. 

How will it be regulated?

It will be self-regulated. We are by no means a regulatory body and we ask brands to have a sensible and practical approach and to do the right thing.

By placing The Pledge on your website you are creating opportunities and making a real difference to people’s lives and to the community. We’re not saying this is it, this is all you need to do. We’re saying this is how you can make a start, the first step, a start to an inclusive community. We will continue to work with the design industry to create diversity and to promote and support new and future initiatives.

We are hearing of many other initiatives yet to be launched which we will support and promote on our channels.

We hope that other businesses, on seeing the sticker, will perhaps start talking to about offering mentoring, work experience, or hosting events. And on that note, if you are, or aspire to be, an interior designer, then follow Alexandria Dauley, who, in collaboration with Sophie Ashby, is working on an initiative to create a programme of mentoring schemes, schools outreach, open days, apprenticeships and scholarships opportunities to reach out to members of the community who may not have considered design as a viable career choice due to the current lack of diversity or economic challenges. 

If you would like to join BAME design community please take a look at Bamedesignersproject who will be showcasing BAME design work for potential clients to access.

Thank you note

We would like to thank the amazing brands who have come on board so quickly and who have embraced the initiative and want to help create a diverse industry. Thank you to all of the brands below, we hope to see many more come on board.

Full Press Release

Little Red PR

The numbers were something like we had twelve candidates for the grad recruitment day and 8 were from the BAME community but only because I went out and approached. Normally its almost 100% white only applicants 

Running a PR agency headquartered in Berkshire for almost ten years I am always on the hunt for PR superstars. We were recently struggling with applicants and have had limited success with recruitment agencies so I decided to outreach direct to potential candidates on LinkedIn. Many marketing / PR / English grads in our local area were from the BAME community but we very, very rarely have applicants who aren’t white.

By actively approaching these potential candidates I found they were super receptive to a role with us – really responsive on messenger, had super CVs with great portfolios. We were arranging a graduate recruitment day before lockdown hit which has now been postponed until August and I am super pleased the line-up of potential candidates includes over 50% from the BAME community. But, I had to be proactive to make this happen. And that’s cool. What I’ve learnt is that it’s not enough to just say “all are welcome”. We need to kick open that front door and invite people in.  

This process opened my eyes to how intimidating it is for any graduate, let alone one who may feel side-lined by the wider community, and as such has shown me I need to take an active role in promoting inclusivity within my company, the clients we represent, the team I manage, and the industry as a whole. With that I am psyched to be supporting Design for Diversity.” –

Victoria Ruffy, founder, Little Red PR.

Heals

Here at Heal’s, we’re passionate about celebrating creativity and sharing our love of design. We’re firm believers in championing both emerging and established designers, while also supporting diversity and inclusivity.

We’re proud to have a talented and diverse team behind the brand and know that we must ensure this diversity continues across all areas of the business, so our brand is approachable by everyone in the design community.

We are taking the Design for Diversity pledge to show our support for underrepresented communities, and to ensure we continue to play our part in bringing diversity to the interiors industry and make a difference. We want the design community to be a place where all creative minds feel free to express their passion for interiors, and for all voices to be heard.

Will you take the pledge?

We really hope to inspire you to take The Pledge and be part of this amazing initiative.

Want to be part of the Design for Diversity initiative?

Please email us at Info@rukminipatel.com and Kate@madaboutthehouse or click the signup button below.

Let’s create the change we want to see!

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