As a digital studio, we feel it’s time to openly advocate for diversity and inclusion in our industry. Publishing our guidebook is our first step in doing so.
Roughly a year ago we created a document called “inclusion and diversity at B&B: plan of action 1.0”. In this document, we jotted down a long list of things we felt needed to change. From that moment on, many subdocuments started to spring up like mushrooms, unravelling the complexities of a rapidly growing quest. We soon realised we needed to close our Dropbox Paper files and start at the beginning by taking a long, hard look in the mirror.
To get an overview of the current situation in B&B, we designed and sent out a survey. This survey included:
- a rating section: to see how people felt about the status quo when it comes to opportunities, transparency, equality, diversity and inclusion at B&B
- a demographic section: to get an overview of the current makeup of the company and a better understanding of how to support those who need it
- an open section: to collect everyone’s honest thoughts on this daunting topic, and collect ideas on how to move forward to create a more inclusive work environment
To understand our findings, we needed some outside perspectives. We invited two experts — Heather Taylor Portmann and Jai Clarke-Binns — to make sense of all the data we gathered. We asked them to give us a general introduction to the topic and host workshops across our three offices, allowing everyone to get on the same wavelength.
In the meantime, our initial document slowly started to grow into a bigger, better version. While we were still in the middle of figuring everything out, we decided it was best to collect, organise and share our thoughts with the people around us sooner rather than later for the sake of transparency.
The result is a three-part guidebook, a living document in which we can come to a mutual agreement on the language, concepts and statistics of diversity and inclusion across (and outside) the company. While the conversation around the topic usually happens on a moral high ground, we want to talk about things in a language everyone speaks and understands. That’s what the guidebook is for. It’s our point of departure and will grow into different shapes and formats in the future.
First, there’s the actual guide that includes our mission statement, an extended Code of Conduct, and an introduction to the main concepts. We like to see it as a collection of “things to keep in mind” in our day-to-day working lives. It reminds us to be mindful about the words we use, the events we host, the spaces we work in and the (often invisible) ways in which we differ from each other. It creates space for us to be more inclusive as a team, which will (hopefully) create a working environment in which different people can bring their entire selves to work every day.
To have a conversation with and understand each other, we need to know what we’re talking about: while designing the survey we already started to compile a list of different terms that needed some explanation. The second part of our guidebook, the glossary of terms, is an extensive list of concepts we’ve encountered over the last few months, which we think can give some necessary context to the discussion. It’s by no means exhaustive, and we’ll keep updating it as we go.
Our report, the last part of our guidebook, shows the numbers we’ve gathered through our survey accompanied by some short explanations of why we’re focusing on these topics. It shows us how we evolve over time as a company while keeping ourselves accountable. After a few months, we already started to see that some of the questions should have been designed in a different way. We’re learning while doing, which is an inevitable consequence of starting an initiative like this from scratch. We hope to send out a new survey soon and will update our report accordingly.
As an ambitious digital studio, we develop products that meet the needs of a wide range of users. To understand these needs, we’re actively searching for ways to shine a light on our blind spots, whether it is in the products we want to build, the problems we like to solve, or the company culture we try to create. We believe this can only happen if we work towards a diverse and inclusive working environment — together.
This guide is not the final outcome of our mission, but a starting point of an ongoing conversation and iterative process. We hope it sparks conversation and change within the company and our industry.