Design Can, the UK campaign dedicated to a more inclusive design industry, launches a new public initiative to track progress
Words by Francesca Perry
Design Can launched two years ago this month. The campaign, steered by a range of people across the UK design industry, calls on everyone related to the industry to work towards better inclusivity; to ensure that design meaningfully represents, champions and employs all people – not just those who are white, able-bodied and male.
The campaign is now launching a survey – What’s changed? – to track progress within the design industry. The survey invites responses from every level of the industry, from top decision makers to students. It aims to gather multiple perspectives and experiences to evaluate what, if anything, has changed over the last two years – and why.
Plenty of practices and institutions pay lip service to ‘diversity’, but real action is required to effect change. When it launched in 2019, Design Can’s founding mission was threefold: to raise awareness of the lack of inclusivity within the design industry; to incentivise action; and to provide resources, guidelines, introduction, information and encouragement to anyone prepared to make change.
The campaign calls on anyone in a position of influence in design to champion the underrepresented, to give space to new and different faces on panels and in exhibitions, to recruit from outside the same old networks, and to model the change they claimed to want to see.
Through its new survey, Design Can aims to separate the practical from the performative, and to establish how far we’ve come on the road to a fairer, more representative industry. The survey will be live until the end of September – so take part – and findings will subsequently be reported on. The results of the survey aim to identify signs of definitive change, as well as determine what obstacles remain to be overcome in reaching equity.
For more on what you can do to be an ally, take a look at Design Can’s tips for action. ICON’s previous editor, Priya Khanchandani, is a steering committee member of Design Can and as ICON’s current editor, I am actively following Design Can’s manifesto and guidelines for allyship to work towards making our content, coverage and commissioning as representative as possible. I know there is still much more work to be done though, and I welcome feedback on what we can do better. You can email me on [email protected]