Tim,
Julie Anixter
531

Julie,

(I know you’d reached out for a chat, but I’d still like to post this for transparency.)

Thanks for your response, I really appreciate hearing from you. That said, I have only two primary thoughts based off of what you just shared.

  1. Its awesome that this work is being done, but my comment on leadership’s and, by extension, your transparency still stands. I was still on the D&I Taskforce Slack channel and saw the responses from folks on that channel, I have received numerous messages from present and past board members and presidents who have also expressed similar sentiments that I presented. If all of this great work is being done, why don’t we know about it? Does it take someone quitting the organization in a very public manner for us to learn about the great work that you and others are doing and what is being planned? 
     
    Part of my work at Microsoft is around Culture, not only to as it pertains D&I, but the actual environment in which people come to work and how it affects their experiences. One of the largest issues we found was the lack of transparency between leadership and the organization creates a sense of dissention because employees believe their leaders are not thinking about “the stuff that matters”. So how can you better communicate with those of us who are down in the local trenches who need to know this work is being done?
  2. While this is great work, much of it is still within the realm of awareness. What is the action plan? How do we take the model that Maurice Woods and Inneract Project has for K-12 and spread it across the US? How are we highlighting and promoting design programs in HBCUs, Tribal Colleges and HSIs — placing them on the same pedestals as Carnegie Mellon, VCU, RISD and the other well known programs? How does media coverage help PoC get into the industry or get more design into K-12 programs — who would truly care outside of other current designers?
     
    Yes, Jacinda is at industry events, but she’s speaking on disparities not on action plans — on what we’re doing to actually attract or seek out more PoC to bring into the industry (in my experience). 
     
    Yes, you’re pushing to have parity, equity and accountability. But what does that mean if a company’s culture is not set up in a way that is inclusive to underrepresented people or people with disabilities? As you’re training the taskforce members to be consultants, are they learning about organizational culture and how there needs to be structures in place to facilitate communication, address micro-aggressions, etc. 
     
    Yes, get more PoC into the conferences, but where are you looking to find them? Are we seeking these individuals out or waiting for them to find the resources we provide?

It’s not my intention to negate any of the work you and others are doing and, trust me, I fully understand the breadth and depth of work that needs to be done and it’s level of difficulty. I believe we’d be better served to see structures, roadmaps and milestones to achieve these things — what is the 2017 goal? 2019? Or 2025? Is Jacinda and the D&I Taskforce creating action plans towards a particular goal or are they simply a glorified shotgun — a scattershot trying to hit as many targets as possible.

I truly appreciate the work AIGA has done, is doing and plans to do, but without consistent radical transparency, people will continue to feel this way. Without clear roadmaps for board members, we can’t communicate to others what the future of design looks like through the work of AIGA.

I look forward to speaking to you more in depth.

Best,
TB

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