In organizations and in society in general, our understanding of differences has deepened over the past decades. Diversity is no longer just about visible differences – like race, gender, age, ethnicity, etc. – but a wide variety of unique characteristics including gender identity, sexual orientation, education, work experience, religion and more. Many companies also realize that valuing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), and managing it effectively, is good for the bottom line both in terms of connecting with customers and in better employee productivity.
Being attuned to diversity when creating and designing marketing, advertising and other customer-related communication makes good sense. Here are some ways DEI empowers creative teams to produce better and more.
Representation and audience connection: Diverse teams provide a range of perspectives, ensuring better representation in creative content. This representation helps connect with diverse target audiences, addressing their unique needs and preferences.
Market segmentation: Sometimes it makes sense to target specific markets. Teams with greater diversity understand when to focus on specific demographics or adopt a more inclusive approach.
Bias reduction: Diverse teams can catch bias in advertising and design by bringing attention to potential blind spots and stereotypes. External individuals – like members of a DEI employee resource group – dedicated to diversity and inclusion can also serve as advocates and quality control.
Social media engagement: In social media, diverse team members can bring an understanding of different communication styles, slang and cultural nuances. This is crucial for reaching diverse audiences on various social media platforms and knowing which channel is best.
Varied backgrounds: Teams with diverse educational and background experiences foster creative thinking and prevent a singular approach. For example, having team members with work experiences in varied industries could bring a fresh viewpoint.
Productivity boost: When people feel they can bring their whole selves to work, they will contribute more. Diversity enhances both individual and team productivity by bringing together individuals with different backgrounds, ideas and problem-solving approaches.
Generational relevance: Younger generations, in particular, value diversity and inclusion, making it essential for companies to address these aspects in their workforce.
How Employers Can Build and Support Diverse Design Teams
Hopefully, your organization has an overall strategy for advancing DEI. As an employer of design professionals, though, it’s important to think specifically how these principles apply. Successful managers of diverse design teams follow these tactics:
Consider how and from where you are drawing candidates. Throw the net as wide as possible. Reconsider language in your job postings. For example, instead of saying, “must have agency experience,” convert that into the specific skills needed like flexibility and quick response to changing priorities.
Look beyond inherent characteristics like age, gender, and race. Consider cultural background, education, work experience and unique strengths.
Expand candidate searches beyond traditional avenues to bring in diverse talent. For example, consider candidates from different industries, veterans, historically underrepresented people or career changers. This also means establishing an inclusive and equitable interview process where candidates have opportunities to ask questions and meet a broad set of team members.
Create a culture where diverse perspectives are heard, shared and appreciated. Examine how meetings are conducted, decisions are made and feedback is given. Do some people dominate the discussion while others remain silent? You might be losing valuable information and ideas. Recognize and respect the needs and preferences of each team member to create an environment where they feel safe, valued and empowered to contribute. Continuously work on reducing hiring bias, resolving pay disparities and removing obstacles to opportunities within the team.
Integrate inclusive practices into the design process to identify and address exclusion early. This includes tapping into diverse perspectives during research, ideation and solution validation. Actively seek varied viewpoints during the design process so that solutions will be more inclusive and effective.
By taking these steps, companies can build diverse and inclusive creative teams that are not only more innovative but also better equipped to connect with a wide range of audiences.
Creating and supporting diverse design teams involves addressing various aspects, from hiring practices to team culture and design processes. It's about fostering an environment where every team member's unique perspective is not only recognized but also valued and integrated into the creative process.