New London Architecture

It’s time for the industry to change – this is how it can start

Thursday 27 July 2023

An industry that fails to reflect the people it serves will quickly become irrelevant. How can we meet the needs of users with a blinkered perspective? 

Design Can is a non-profit helping shift the power balance in the creative industry to be inclusive and representative of the world around it. Since 2019, we’ve led campaigns and worked with the industry to drive positive change.

Yet, a survey we commissioned and published revealed that the wider creative community feels let down by industry leaders, from government to institutions and business leaders – especially since so few lived up to their promises since Black Lives Matter protests of 2020.

While a lot of our work is about pressuring decision-makers and supporting positive change, there is still a lot of positive action we can all take. We know this can feel overwhelming as it can be difficult to know where to start.
Read through our You Can statements for practical tips on how to start:
1. Recognise your privilege
Acknowledge that no matter how hard you have worked to get where you are, others facing structural discrimination have to work harder.

2. Keep learning
Listen to the experiences of underrepresented people, read widely, confront your biases and fill the gaps in your knowledge and vocabulary. Do not expect others to do this work for you.
  • The Design Can newsletter is regularly guest-edited by inspiring industry figures who share recommendations. 
3. See your liberation in that of others
Move away from the concept of allyship rooted in charity and support from a distance; understand that we are all, in different ways, part of the same struggle and no one will be free until we are all free.
4. Amplify the voices of others
Actively share the work of unsung creatives, thinkers and brands on social media, in meetings and at dinner tables.
5. Use your influence
Employ and commission people from a diverse range of backgrounds, genders and abilities. If you don’t have commissioning power, advocate for underrepresented people to be involved in your projects. Ensure they are compensated fairly.
  • Use our Resources page to search for ideas and references
6. Refuse one-dimensionality
Decline to be involved in projects and panels that are not representative. Let the organisers know why you do not want to participate and point them towards qualified people from underrepresented backgrounds. We hope our resources can help.
7. Stand aside
If you are asked to work on a project where a person from an underrepresented background would be better suited, stand aside.
8. Welcome everyone
Hire BSL interpreters, share information on accessibility for events, make sure your website is triple A rated, add subtitles to all film content, invite experts to review accessibility in your workplace.
9. Mentor the next generation
Inspire and support young people to join the creative industries through programmes like Creative Mentor Network and Creative Access. Share your skills, knowledge and contacts.
10. Recruit more diversely
Collaborate with partner organisations like The Other Box to ensure that you are recruiting as diversely as possible. Promote your vacancies on our Jobs Board, full transparency on salaries.

About Design Can
Design Can is a non-profit which aims to shift the power balance in the creative industry to be more inclusive and representative. 
They do this by giving visibility to individuals, organisations and campaigns that contribute to making the design industry more inclusive. Design Can opens conversations around equity and inclusion and inspire industry leaders to commit and make their workplaces exemplars of the values they stand for.

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