If you want to change culture you need UX

Poor user experiences lead to disengagement.

BBH Stockholm
Mar 15, 2019 · 4 min read
Illustration by Adam Lindfors

“Relying on policy alone to create an inclusive culture and more effective workforce misses cultural subtleties that can damage the individual and the industry, lessons from User Experience can help us progress towards real inclusivity, writes BBH UX Strategist”

Amy Andrews.

Advertising and tech are historically exclusive industries. But this is not necessarily about diversity- whether or not Adland has effectively diversified the workforce is covered here.

1. Understand the organisation

Exclusion will differ from workplace to workplace. Therefore the solution can’t be one-size-fits-all. First, you need to define the problem you’re looking at as per the environment, understand how an organisation works at all levels, the issues users are actually facing. For example, imagine Company X has a problem retaining its female workforce for senior positions.

2. Research with all parties

In UX, you’ve got to listen to all users of a system in order to improve it correctly. If we don’t make the effort to see from the point of view of not only the excluded but the excluders, we can’t know how to tackle the issues appropriately. Acknowledge the motivations of both parties. Listen to the people who feel like they aren’t being heard and hunt for moments of dissonance. As Google found out, policy doesn’t always help those who most need to be shown what inclusion means, instead of leaving them lashing out at a culture that has left them behind. In Company X, it becomes clear that some women feel like they’re not getting their share of informal mentoring, whereas leadership believes everyone is receiving equal mentoring time.

3. Uncover frictions

Map out the investigated experiences, side-by-side, to understand that key points of exclusion and reveal what was really going on. You’re not going to find just one, very obvious problem. There will undoubtedly be a series of subtle, minute, and otherwise overlooked sticking points. A detailed map with proper research to back it up would mark these as evidently part of a larger problem. At Company X, it turns out that female employees are being undervalued by a male-dominated culture that manifests in meetings and socials.

4. Improve

Armed with understanding, the next step is to leverage change with localised and appropriately-proportioned solutions at the roots of those particular issues (rather than using a blanket policy-driven approach). Solve enough of these user pain points, spread across an employee experience though they might be, and you start to solve the problem of an exclusive culture. So, implementing individual-specific metrics that account for performance and allocating clear accountability starts to reduce the turnover rate of women from Company X.

BBH Stockholm

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