Systemic racism is by design. It is the product of intentional choices made by individuals and institutions, which have compounded over time. The United States has over-policed, over-punished, and underinvested in the Black community.
Black people have lived with this reality for centuries. It should not have taken 8 minutes and 46 seconds of watching George Floyd suffer for the rest of society to awaken. Black people are incarcerated at five times the rate of whites. Mortality rates for Black mothers are over two times that of white mothers and the unemployment rate for Black workers is over two times the rate of their white counterparts. Our systems are inequitable, biased, and uphold racism in this country. The truth is that these systems are designed for racial disparity.
At IDEO, we haven't listened well enough—not inside our company, nor in the wider world. We are grateful for the comments we’ve received, from our colleagues and broader community, over the last two weeks. When we shared anti-racism resources last week on Instagram, it was centered on white guilt and it was wrong. We should have said clearly: Black Lives Matter. We should have called out the white dominance of the design industry, and recognized the harsh truths of our industry’s role in perpetuating inequity. And we should have acknowledged directly that IDEO, as a leader, has been part of the problem.
We have a collective responsibility to design new systems. We have attempted to do so in some of our work, but we have not moved as quickly or as boldly as we should have. We cannot be successful until we re-examine our values, our relationships, and how we practice design itself. We acknowledge the long journey we have ahead of us as a company—to stand in full humility, reckon with white privilege, and unlearn the ways in which we have been socialized to maintain systems of racism.
June 15, 2020
As a global design firm, we’ve learned that Diversity Equity & Inclusion have different dynamics in each of the markets in which we are based: China, Germany, Japan, UK, and USA. Those dynamics grow even more disparate across the many global markets in which we work.
We commit to centering equity across IDEO in the following five focus areas: talent, training, community, design, and culture. We commit to assessing ourselves throughout our learning journey, towards deeply understanding what it means to become an equitable organization. We know that this will take time, and that is why these commitments are designed for the long-term.
Talent: IDEO is nothing without its people. The excellence of this organization includes the numerous contributions of our Black colleagues. We acknowledge that we needed to lean on them in this humbling moment. We recognize that it is not their responsibility to repair our DE&I issues or usher us on the path away from systemic racism. We are grateful for their patience as we learn what is necessary for change. Ultimately, we need more of this brilliance at our company. We commit to:
Training: Becoming an equitable organization will take years to fully realize. We will embody inclusive leadership to better support our people and design practice. In the long-term, we will train our people in understanding what anti-racist principles are and how they would apply at IDEO. Here’s where we are starting:
Community: We will establish and foster enduring relationships with communities of color to increase access and create more opportunities in the design industry. We will also take a proactive approach to support external organizations dedicated to dismantling systemic racism.
Design: We know that the design process must change, as well as how design work is executed across teams and locations. We’re creating tools to check our own biases, center on communities, and expand our work from “designing for” to “designing with.” We want to increase access to the design industry.
Culture: We will re-evaluate the white-dominant company culture that persists, understand the ways in which that culture can be exclusive, embrace new perspectives and experiences, and redefine what it means to be an IDEOer.
These are our first set of commitments. We are working on more and will continually update this page with new commitments, as well as reports on our progress.