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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at IDEO

IDEO is driven by the ambition to create positive impact in the world through design and creativity, and to help others do the same. Fostering a diverse community of talent and ensuring an equitable and inclusive workplace are essential to that ambition.

Our Acknowledgment

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 2020

Our Commitments

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:

  • Publicly share the demographic data from our US offices by the end of the summer and continue sharing annually. We will also establish and publish clear goals at that time.
  • Ensure we’re continuously diversifying our community by hiring, promoting, and cultivating more people of color, in particular Black, Indigenous, and Latinx designers.
  • Continuing to recognize and reduce bias in our evaluation and talent support processes. We implemented a new 360 degree feedback system for all of IDEO at the end of 2019 to reduce bias in our bi-annual evaluations. We commit to making improvements to this process.
  • Having pay equity across IDEO. We completed a gender equity pay review in late 2019, and are planning to review pay equity by race this year.

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:

  • We are finalizing inclusive leadership curriculum for our enterprise leaders to participate in this fall. We will adapt and scale this training for the rest of our organization in 2021.
  • IDEO began offering unconscious bias training, known internally as Real Talk Theater, to members of our leadership in August 2018. All of our partners and enterprise leaders had completed two modules as of April 2019. We brought this training to our Cambridge, Chicago, London, Munich, New York, Shanghai, and Tokyo studios, and have plans to hold the training in San Francisco. In the future, there will be new modules added on an ongoing basis.
  • Last year, we created a training called the Craft of Interviewing, which aims to reduce bias in the hiring process. The training is currently in use in all of IDEO’s global locations. Going forward, we will ensure that everyone who is a part of the interview process goes through this training.

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.

  • We have committed $500,000 per year in design services for the next three years to support external organizations working on racial justice. We will share more details and a call to organizations in forthcoming communications.
  • We will establish more partnerships with local organizations across our US offices. To date, we’ve partnered with SMASH (Oakland), LINK Unlimited Scholars (Chicago) and others on programs that expose young, underrepresented people to design.
  • We will work with our Experience teams (who support our internal communities, facilities, and programming) to understand the number of minority-owned businesses we partner with as our vendors and suppliers, and expand those relationships where we are lacking.

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.

  • We commit to publicly sharing our best tools and recognizing the tools of others, in order to have conversations about how to move the design field forward.
  • We will give talks in new places, collaborate with different universities, and support additional programs (like we have with the Consortium) to diversify the design practice.

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.

  • We are launching a company-wide survey that will measure our cultural diversity and attitudes towards inclusion by the end of 2020. We commit to sharing these attitudes and insights externally to learn and share best practices.
  • IDEO will recognize two new paid holidays annually for our US-based employees: Juneteenth and Election Day. This year they will be Friday, June 19 and Tuesday, November 3.

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.