Throughout AIGA’s 100-year history, design and innovation have advanced not only our industry, but transformed everyday life. Imagine the days prior to
television sets, Universal Product Codes (and now QR Codes), the iEverything, Adobe Creative Suite…because they really weren’t that long ago. Design has
the power to permeate every product, moment and solution in our lives—with immense opportunity for change.
However, there are two overlapping areas in which design as a profession is lagging: demographic diversity and a culture of inclusion. The two rely on each
other, and both are crucial for the future success of the industry. Diversity may be a more popular buzzword in discussions about design education,
conferences and icons, but without inclusive gestures by hiring managers and businesses, senior designers and agencies, educators and other role models,
individuals from underrepresented groups entering and remaining in design will remain firmly in the minority.
Approximately 86% of professional designers are Caucasian. This represents only small strides since the 1990 AIGA Journal article “Equal Opportunities: Minorities in Graphic Design” (by Michele Vernon-Chesley) and subsequent symposium “Why Is Graphic Design 93% White?” And race is only part of the picture. Diversity in design means
diversity of experience, perspective and creativity—otherwise known as diversity of thought—and these can be shaped by multiple factors including race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual identity,
ability/disability and location, among others. The diversity problem in design is not only in the numbers, but also in the lack of diverse role models,
opportunities, and public awareness—which leads to apathy, insensitivity and even outright discrimination.
Earlier this year, with its new Women’s Leadership Initiative, AIGA took a great step towards addressing the lack of public female role models in design as well as
the challenges women face in ascending to their own visions of professional success. The launch of this program, combined with existing member
interest in other areas of diversity, led to the creation of a new AIGA Diversity & Inclusion Initiative, which builds on past AIGA programs and
groups with new ideas and resources to sustain AIGA’s commitment to this critical issue. Borrowing the AIGA Women’s Leadership goals to celebrate,
cultivate and connect, the initiative’s mission is encouraging diversity in design education, discourse and practice to expand the future strength and
relevance of design in all areas of society.
To drive this initiative, the AIGA Diversity & Inclusion Task Force has been reconvened with new volunteers—members and chapter leaders from across the
nation. This group is already stirring with ideas for resources, programming and partnerships that will not draw lines of difference between designers, but
encourage innovation through the support and integration of all designers in the profession.
Interconnectedness in all its forms, including technology, multiculturalism and globalism, make diversity and inclusion more relevant than ever in design
as well as all areas of business and culture. The shifting status of “minorities” in the U.S.* affects not only the pool of possible future designers at
the K-12 level, but also the makeup of our clients, colleagues and collaborators. From a practical (not to mention moral) standpoint, diversity and
inclusion within the field of design lead to more innovation through problem-solving, whether in service to business or society. And that’s what design is
all about. In order to continue successfully and authentically leading improvement and change, design must openly embrace more diverse practitioners and
retain them through inclusion.
AIGA believes creativity thrives through participation and the unexpected. We eagerly welcome ideas from our 25,000 members and beyond. Get to know the
task force, see what we're planning and contact us with ideas for resources, speakers, programs and connections. Diversity & Inclusion are passions for
some of us, but they matter to all of us. Join us in changing the conversation from problem to progress to proof.
Hear more from Antionette about diversity and inclusion in design and AIGA’s new task force at Revision Path.
*According to the 2010 Census, by 2050 53% of the country will be people of color. In 2010, 19% of the US population reported that they had a physical and/or intellectual disability. In 2020, 46% of the workforce will be millennials.
Illustration courtesy of Lisk Feng.
Antionette D. Carroll is the Principal of CHAx365 Design, a social impact design studio working exclusively with non-profit organizations, arts and cultural institutions, social enterprises, corporate social responsibility initiatives, and diversity
and inclusion departments. Antionette is also the Founder and Director of Creative Reaction Lab, an intensive social impact design collaborative. Recently, Antionette was named the Chair of AIGA’s National Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, an initiative
Throughout her career, Antionette has worked, in in-house and freelance capacities, for non-profits working for social justice, human rights and diversity and inclusion. Through her practice, she has expanded her clientele to include social entrepreneurs,
corporate social resposibility groups, diversity and inclusion practicioners, and more.
When she is not working (which as a mom and wife usually equals never), she is watching science fiction, action and Asian cinema, reading, handlettering and adding to her shoe collection.
Diversity & Inclusion is a new AIGA initiative with the mission of encouraging diversity in design education, discourse, and practice to strengthen and expand the relevance of design in all areas of society.
Section: Tools and Resources -
advocacy, culture, diversity, education, social issues, social responsibility, Diversity and Inclusion
following resources—publications, videos, websites and external
organizations and programs—are organized according to the three goals of
the AIGA Diversity & Inclusion Initiative: Celebrate, Cultivate,
Meet the members of AIGA Diversity & Inclusion task force who drive the initiative's mission of encouraging diversity in design education, discourse, and practice.
As the largest professional association
of designers in the world, AIGA is committed to advancing the value and
impact of design, both locally and globally, and working together to
inspire, support and learn from each other, at every stage of our
careers. Whether you're an established designer looking to give back or a
student just starting out, there's a membership level for you.
Section: About AIGA -
Take advantage of the many benefits that come with being an AIGA member: savings, information, community, inspiration and more.
“Be good at what you do and be nice to people.” I know
you’re probably thinking that it’s a no-brainer, but for many of us (and I’m
definitely one of them), this is easier said than done.
Section: Inspiration -
job search, professional development, advice, Design Job Series
Creative CoordinatorMILIEU Magazine
Houston, TexasMay 24 2016
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