Diversity in Design with PAGE Magazine Germany

Translated from German. Published in the December 2020 print issue of PAGE Magazine.

“Many designers make the validation mistake in user research,” says Wendy Johansson, global vice president of experience at Publicis Sapient in San Francisco. “This means they select, identify and interpret information in a way that confirms their expectations. Without lived experience, you can’t create true empathy”, says Johansson. “Everything else is like research on Wikipedia.”

Wendy Johansson misses commitment and long-term orientation in many DE&I measures: “Many quota regulations are thought too short and promote tokenism – i.e. hiring an alibi person from a minority according to the motto: Look here, we are inclusive! But what about this person in three years? Has he or she moved up? Does he or she have a chance of a leadership position? Or did she quit after three months because the working atmosphere was not inclusive or discriminatory? As long as the management is not serious about diversity, all measures are invalid and only lead to frustration, says Johansson. “Our former Chief Experience Officer John Maeda has been a rarity in this position as a man of Asian descent. Since he himself knows what exclusion and discrimination means, he is particularly committed to these issues. More executives are needed with this lived experience. Unconscious bias trainings could only compensate for this to a limited extent, believes Johansson: “They are definitely useful for creating awareness and finding allies. But they do not solve the problem of systemic biases in the treatment of minorities”.

“Models, methods, frameworks and schematic process representations can help to avoid mistakes or forget important steps – unless they are used as superficial checklists,” warns Wendy Johansson.