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Design for Diversity, The Pledge
Design for Diversity is an initiative launched on 18th June 2020, by Kate Watson Smyth & Rukmini Patel.
It is a three-point Pledge covering, Visibility, Opportunity and Accessibility and is a first step to working towards a more diverse design industry and giving brands, businesses and bloggers a guideline on areas they can work on.
It consists of three simple statements about increasing diversity on social media and websites, an undertaking to seek out more candidates from all backgrounds for job vacancies (while stopping short of quotas and rejecting tokenism) and a promise to make panels and events more representative.
It was, we felt, something that many companies should be (and some were) doing already. But during one conversation with a Black journalist (as Indian and White women we consulted widely with people from all ethnicities before launching the idea) we learned that during the 90s she would often apply for jobs only where it was explicitly stated that applications from Black and Ethnic minorities (the term BAME had yet to be invented) were welcome. In a notoriously white middle class industry, she felt she needed that statement to ensure her application would be taken seriously.
Ten minutes later a White business owner told us: “I’ve never put that line, surely it’s bloody obvious?”
As it turned out, it wasn’t obvious and Black, Asian and Ethnic Minorities had hung back from applying for jobs in White dominated sectors (including interior design and architecture) because they didn’t feel welcome and never saw themselves represented. We hope that this pledge is a first step towards righting that wrong.
The Pledge is symbolised by a sticker which is placed on your website /social media and clicks through to a page outlining the three elements. We also encourage businesses to add their own top line so that people can see the specific actions that business is taking.
People who see the sticker will know that the door is open for job opportunities, for suppliers, for internships and work experience for all Black, Asian and Ethnic Minorities equally.
Here is Rukmini’s original post and here is mine along with a follow up which includes some Q&As and updates which you might find useful.
The Pledge came about following a specially extended episode of the podcast where Sophie and I heard voices from the Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority communities talking of their experiences within the interiors sector. It was our most downloaded ever (series 7 episode 5 June 11 2020).
After connecting with Rukmini, who spoke on the show, on Instagram, we started chatting about what could be done next. There was, we felt, a deadlock; a sense that the Black community wanted to see a long overdue change and the White community didn’t know where to start. And so The Pledge was born.
Who is the Pledge for?
The initiative is for brands, businesses, bloggers, influencers, interior designers and stylists. Anyone who wants to see more diversity within the sector from large companies to sole traders.
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 to be placed on your website. We suggest to create a link from the logo which leads to The Pledge wording. The sticker shouldn’t change as it was designed by Julian Roberts of Irving & Co but you can design a page to suit your website for the working of the pledge.
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. We have had many behind the scenes conversations since launching and have found a real sense of desire to change and a willingness to learn. Some companies are working on global responses to diversity (sparked by the pledge) working on widening the basic tenets.
We do not hold the power or the resources of an industry body who could enforce measures such as auditing. Specific targets which require revisiting involves some form of auditing which is generally carried out in regulated industries, of which the design industry is not.
Brands and Businesses who have taken the Pledge
Below are some of the brands and businesses who have taken the Pledge (we aim to produce a full list in time)
Heal’s, Mylands, Style Library, including Sanderson, Zoffany, Harlequin, Morris & Co, Scion and Clarke & Clarke, Rockett St George, Dowsing and Reynolds, Pressloft, OneOfftoTwentyFive, Pooky Lights, Audenza, Homeplace, Safomasi, Inside Stylists, Farrow & Ball, The TV Carpenter, House of Flora, Carrie Cotton, Da Silva Design, & The Monkey Puzzle Tree
We are also delighted that three magazines from the former TI Media, now Future PLC, are on board: Ideal Home, Style at Home and Country Homes & Interiors have all signed up.
How can I take the Pledge/Sticker?
Simply complete the form below and we will provide you with stickers and examples of how you can adapt it to your business.
Mentorships & Internships
There are many small businesses who have taken the Pledge and taken action into placing internships or mentoring programmes who we want to champion and share their wonderful initiatives, so that if you are a young designer and looking for an internship or mentor please do reach out to the below studios.
Studio Carew – are offering advice to young furniture designers please contact Katya here.
Born & Bred Studio – are offering to mentor for young people entering the fashion/interiors world. Based in London.
Inside Stylists – will be offering a mentoring scheme within the interior stylist community
Blackpop – offering an annual bursary with an opportunity to launch a product with Blackpop who will then produce and market. Please contact Maxine here if you have any questions.
In addition, some independent businesses have reached out to us to share their own programmes through mentoring and interning and we want to raise the profile of these businesses who are offering opening their doors the Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority communities. If you are a young designer who is looking for an internship please reach out to the above studios in the first instant.