Building Teams for Inclusive Design

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Across the design industry, many practitioners are waking up to the fact that what we do has real impact on the people that use the products we design. We’re talking about things like ethics in artificial intelligence, bias in software development, and a need for design that is accessible and inclusive. Designers are creating online forms where people don’t have to indicate a gender that they don’t identify with. Inclusive design is incorporating different cultural perspectives and ways of speaking into voice activated apps.

Here at ATB, inclusive design brings us things like biometric identification to offer banking services to people who wouldn’t otherwise have access. For us, inclusive design starts with how we build our teams. We practice what we preach - we want our team to practice inclusive design, so we use design thinking to build the team, culture, and workspace to achieve that outcome. 

The first step in inclusive design is to set the intention and expectation that inclusivity will be built into every step of the process.

So we were intentional about building diversity into our teams. It is not only about ethnicity and gender, but also age, experience, beliefs, language, strengths, and weaknesses. On our design team, all team members have user design experience, but we have also hired for massively varied backgrounds and skill sets (creative, computer, product, content). 

This dedication to bringing diverse perspectives into the design process has led to a democratization of design at ATB. Instead of trying to own the design process, we practice transparency, openness, sharing, and radical collaboration.

Our CX Research and Design Hub is an online portal where we openly share the work of the design team with our 5,300 team members. The processes, the data, the prototypes, the iterations, everything is open to see. Our goal is to contribute to the practice of design and design thinking across the organization, and ultimately, help everyone at ATB get closer to the customer.

Anyone who influences how the design comes about is the designer. 

This collaborative focus feeds inclusive design across ATB. Our commitment to listen to Albertans stems from the desire to provide experiences and products that fit their needs. We’ve taken a real stand about putting human beings at the centre of our business. Human Centered Design is inclusive by nature, and ATB is committed to making this part of what we’re known for, part of our DNA. 

There is no written code of ethics or code of conduct for the design and tech world. But as a profession, we aim to be in touch with the user and the human experience. As inclusiveness continues to be at the forefront of general discourse, designers can take the lead and make sure that inclusivity is built in to our processes and the products that we are putting out into the world. It starts with building teams and culture with inclusive design in mind.