#ConsciousCreative: The future of design…

04 Nov 2020 | Culture

#ConsciousCreative: The future of design…

By Nikki Burton

Every month we take a look into the world of conscious creative and how design can promote positive change.

In 2020 the phrase ‘It’s not what you know. It’s who you know’ still has some truth behind it when it comes to employment in the design industry. In my experience though, this is slowly but surely being phased out and replaced with education and skill becoming the key factors in landing the right role. Although this is a positive step towards change, it does however pose new issues. The education and experience needed to have a ‘successful’ career are not always available to all. Currently, statistics show that the design industry in the UK is 76% male, with only 13% of employees being from BAME (black and minority ethnic) backgrounds.

How can we hope for a better future, if future generations are not being provided the same opportunities? How much talent is passing by and not getting the chances they deserve? How can we promote an inclusive environment if not everyone is being represented equally?

Luckily all is not lost! There are active projects and initiatives helping to tackle these issues and empowering the underrepresented. Providing students with a platform to earn valuable education and skills that can open up career pathways and ultimately bring diversity to the design industry.

Empowering underrepresented youth

Adobe Max saw a host of leading industry professionals giving live talks and pre-recorded learning sessions again this year, making knowledge available to all. My highlight of the week was ‘Designing a System for Social Change’ where Maurice Woods, the founder of the Inneract Project gave a truly inspirational overview of the positive changes that he is promoting within the design industry. The program supports youth who identify as Black, Latinx and/or of low-income backgrounds, helping them channel their creativity into viable career paths. To date they have reached over 20,000 people via their advocacy initiatives, with the vision to increase Black and Latinx representation and leadership in technology and design for good.

Gender parity by design

It is undeniable that there is an imbalance in gender equality across all levels within design. The article The women working to make design education more diverse’ helps paint a clear understanding of why this is happening - starting with a lack of visible role models and culminating in wide gender pay gaps and poor maternity support once women reach employment. It also explores current issues in diversity by highlighting key issues such as anglocentric education and the people working to improve things going forward - encouraging us all to get involved with pushing for change.

Lifetime of experience

It isn’t always the people at the start of their careers that often get loverlooked. Recent findings show that only 5% of staff within agencies are 50 or older. Thinkerbell, an Australia-based creative agency, recently launched the Thrive@55 initiative which provides internships exclusively to people 55 and older. Diversity comes in all forms.

I’m really encouraged to see all these initiatives taking place, particularly with future generations. As Nat Maher from Kerning the gap says “You can’t be what you can’t see, and if marginalised students don’t see themselves represented on their reading lists and in their curriculum, this in turn leads to a feeling of being marginalised in the discipline.”

We’d love to hear from you. What has been your experience of the design industry?