By: Snook
Posted: 28/05/2019

The design industry lacks diversity

We need diverse teams to create accessible services and products

The design industry is 89.5% white and 60% male. At the same time the creative industries have had the fastest rate of growth among the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) sectors in 2011-2017, and addressing diversity now is urgent – not only in relation to ethnicity but on the grounds of any Equal Opportunity or Diversity protected characteristic.

At Snook, we have 30 staff designing products and services, that work for everyone. If we are to design accessible and inclusive services, we must address the lack of diversity in our teams and industry first, and strive to change it. That is why we’re launching this collection of resources for inclusive design recruitment, and inviting you to use and contribute to it.

We tend to hire another version of ourselves

Employers generally like to stick to their comfort zone, hiring the same sort of people over and over again. Sometimes this is because networks are utilised and trusted, other times the pace of recruitment means we drop the ball on recruiting beyond the usual suspects. For whatever reason, we don’t always put diversity and inclusion at the forefront of our processes.

Applicants from minority ethnic backgrounds have to send 80% more applications than a white person of British origin, to get a positive response from an employer. Making hiring practices more inclusive – empowering people of all ethnicities, genders, backgrounds, beliefs, ages, sexual orientations, and life situations to find, apply, and be recruited as designers – is essential. We need to make diverse design teams the norm rather than the exception. We can’t design for everyone if our teams are not representative of the people we’re designing for.

Plus, having a diverse workforce makes good business sense. According to research by Deloitte, inclusive companies are twice as likely to exceed financial targets, and six times more likely to be innovative. It’s a win-win situation, so let’s get started.

We’re not experts

We know that we’ve not been good enough in building a diverse team. It’s been a conversation at Snook for a while, so we’ve set out on a mission to change how we recruit. To understand how to do better, we’ve run workshops, scoured the web, and asked for help – collectively building a resource for inclusive recruitment to enable ourselves, and you, to change our policies and practices. This innovative approach has already affected the way we recruit, from writing shorter job adverts with less essential criteria to making sure we provide more information about interviews up-front to relieve anxiety.

You’re invited to co-create this resource collection with us

Have a look at the inclusive recruitment resource here to find out how you can start changing how you recruit. If you would like to help build the narrative on inclusive recruitment in design, get in touch to contribute your ideas, resources, tools, links, or comments.

We’ve outlined a series of stages across the recruitment process to make our insights on how to promote inclusiveness easier to digest. Many of these are small changes you can apply next time you’re looking for new team members. However, we’re under no illusion that this is as simple as making a few quick fixes to an embedded system and workplace culture.

Organisations wanting to make true change need to think holistically and long term. The key challenge is to build an inclusive company and culture, and embed this into the DNA of everything the organisation does; from arranging working hours to tackling bias. We’re starting with ourselves and would love to hear how your organisation is tackling this.