Diversity in Sketchin.
To celebrate Pride Month, we are releasing the outcome of a survey we did to assess our diversity and how we can improve it to become a truly inclusive place.
In May 2021, Sketchin’s Diversity&Inclusion Committee was born to foster a more mature culture of inclusion within the studio. One of the first questions the working group asked was: how diverse and inclusive are we as a group? How do we live in these dimensions?
We are a design firm; what could be better than a good old survey? Hence, we prepared one and asked each of us to fill it out. The Committee was able to get a reasonably accurate snapshot of the state of diversity in Sketchin and set a starting point for future action. Above all, it allowed us to explore our colleagues’ perceptions, bringing out situations we are generally unaware of.
In celebration of Pride Month, we are sharing part of the results as one of our initiatives to promote a more fair, respectful and transparent work environment.
First of all, inclusiveness of what? Gender? Faith? Inclusivity is a vast and sensitive concept; therefore, we divided the survey into seven themes considering the different relevant areas.
To avoid ambiguities, we provided definitions of all the items so as not to misunderstand some words whose interpretation is slippery enough even in everyday life. Giving a definition made the response more precise toward what we were asking.
The survey was very long, touched on an assortment of aspects, and also raised complex and sensitive issues. We would also like to emphasize that the study collects people’s opinions and interpretations; perceptions are very delicate objects. Therefore, all committee members, out of respect for the respondents, signed an NDA binding them to strict confidentiality.
We, therefore, share only the general results, sufficient to provide a picture of the situation.
Age and seniority
Sketchin has always been proud of its culture, which it believes is a defining element. However, there is also a downside: less compliant people struggle to fit in with others and may feel marginalized.
This phenomenon may also be due to the generational theme, as those most affected by these feelings are either older or younger.
The level of seniority at work sometimes generates difficult situations, although not perceived as a source of exclusion.
Sketchin, to date, includes 63 males and 41 females (we repeat, we are talking about biological sex). However, representation is uneven across groups: females are under-represented in the strategy group and the higher hierarchies.
The survey results show that Sketchin people detected few incidents of perceived marginalization regarding biological sex. Among them, the prevalence is toward females.
Sometimes, I find some attitudes hide a veil of introjected toxic masculinity. Not excessive, but they exist.
Gender identity and sexual orientation
From the survey responses, Sketchin appeared to be inclusive and open about this topic, including ways of experiencing romantic relationships.
Parenting and caregiving
A relatively low percentage of people in Sketchin take care of members from outside or within their families. Still, we perceive our studio as a supportive environment that facilitates people’s operation and allows flexibility according to their needs. There are not many parents among us, but being one is not experienced as a problem, fortunately. Some people complain about the opposite attitude: those who have children seem to have more time management benefits than those who don’t.
Being able to care, even simply by being more present and running small errands… That’s one of the highest values I perceive in this study, really present and felt, and not just stated, as many do.
Accessibility and health
The places where we work are powerfully back in the spotlight now that we have started going to the office again (and it was about time…). However, a few things have emerged that need improvement.
Our offices are still not fully accessible for colleagues with mobility difficulties: there are stairs or other architectural barriers that can sometimes affect usability.
The second, on the other hand, concerns the readiness for remote work. There are differences between Italy and Switzerland in work regulations, but most of us would like more attention to working from home, both in a practical and psychological sense.
Giving us the stuff to improve our home office is not enough. Perhaps we should come up with ideas or activities to make working from home a more relaxed experience as it would be in the office, knowing, however, that it won’t be the same.
Cultural and professional background
Sketchin is very inclusive about personal opinions, place of origin, and religious beliefs.
On the other hand, some perceived struggles on issues such as language skills, professional role, and approach to work.
Designers play the main role, and those who are not sometimes feel belittled. Some perceive the weight of overtime expectations, and the career path is unclear for some of us.
There is not enough recognition of the value of those who know another language compared to those who speak only Italian.
Sketchin appears to be an inclusive place toward the freedoms of being and appearing and about people’s physical appearance. However, attitudes of marginalization were perceived toward the way people interact or the personal character in the workplace, especially when marked by confidentiality.
How inclusive is Sketchin?
In the end, let’s draw the bottom line: Sketchin can be considered reasonably inclusive for its people, mainly Italian speakers within the 20–50 age group.
There is a lack of a more profound diversity, especially a cultural one, which can enrich the exchange and push us to confront different codes and different languages.
We are very open about personal characteristics- private life, orientations, opinions- and this is certainly very positive. We are less so towards professional matters: very proud of our specificity, a little high and mighty towards the outside, and this definitely can be improved.
We must improve the internal culture and enhance what is already good. But above all, we have to temper our self-importance with more profound and active listening. We also have to free our internal communication from self-glorification or factionalism.
We do not want to be misunderstood: we are happy about the survey outcome, but we are also responsible for preserving this attitude in time, integrating into our studio people who believe in these values and maybe in others we are not aware of, aiming at respect and cherish the human diversity.