Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
Museum Statement and Public Plan Announcement
At Design Museum Everywhere, our mission is to bring the transformative power of design everywhere. This includes taking an active stance against rhetoric and practices that seek to disenfranchise and discriminate against anyone based on their group identities. We strive to support and lead efforts to diversify and foster equity in the design field overall. This work includes taking an introspective look at our own organization and taking steps to address the inequity within. The statement below outlines the museum’s history with DEI and lays the groundwork for our future DEI initiatives.
Since the winter of 2019, Design Museum Everywhere has had a DEI Committee and Think Tank as part of our board and community structure, which is made up of board, council, staff, and other community members. This group is responsible for creating our DEI guiding principles, statement, and plan of action, which we will release publicly and share updates on as part of our commitment to transparency and accountability. The staff at Design Museum Everywhere is also committed to personal education on these topics, and they are supported in their learning through training funds and resources from partners and grantors like the Barr Foundation and b*free. Information about our Board, Council, Think Tanks, and staff is public on our Team page. We are in the process of conducting a survey to accurately take note of the demographic breakdown of our team. Once completed, these numbers will also be available on this page.
We are also resolute in our beliefs that design has historically been a White, male-dominated field. Our exhibition We Design: People. Practice. Progress. is one way we responded to this truth—highlighting the voices of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), women, and gender non-conforming people in design. We Design is now part of the Design Museum’s permanent collection. We are committed to adding to and evolving the exhibition, as well as the individual stories and projects already highlighted. During the development of We Design, our staff did not reflect the demographics we were highlighting in the exhibition, so we created a Content Advisory Committee, a group of representative designers, to ensure we captured the complexity of the problem and most fully celebrated the work of our featured designers. We have also been intentional in our choices when it comes to speakers, partners, and contributors—always striving to ensure our community reflects the world we live in. We are also engaged in producing several other programs across our education and publication initiatives that bring diversity and equity to the forefront of our work.
Through this process it became clear to us that it was equally important to ensure our full-time staff also reflects the world we live in. To this end, in June 2020 the Design Museum Everywhere Board of Directors approved a budget which allowed us to hire Journee Harris to oversee the We Design program, Maria Villafranca to lead our marketing efforts, and Amor Yates to produce our podcast.
Ultimately, we know there is still work to do, and there will always be work to do, to create and design equity into all aspects of our organization, living up to having diversity as one of our 12 Design Impact Areas, and as a priority in our FY20-FY24 strategic plan. As always, we understand that design is a collaborative process and museums belong to their communities, so please reach out with questions or ideas on how we can continue to improve.
On the Design Process and other Definitions
The design process has often been used to uphold tenants of dominant group identities. We will continue to question those processes and work toward a more inclusive and community-focused practice that prioritizes the voices and expertise of the community for which a design is intended over that of the designer.
Diversity is often used as coded language for racial diversity. Diversity to Design Museum Everywhere means the true intersections of identities and experiences, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, economic status, geographic location, ability, spoken languages, and many more.¹
Equity is giving everyone the support they need to have the same level of access to power and resources. This differs from equality which provides everyone with the same support regardless of their access to power and resources–meaning that oftentimes in an equitable policy, some group identities are more actively advocated for to correct for the inequitable, systemic issue.
Inclusion is the active practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized. Most traditionally, inclusion speaks to those who have physical or mental disabilities, but it should also extend to any people who are not part of the dominant group identity.
Identifiers that are based on the physical, social, and mental characteristics of individuals. They are sometimes obvious and clear, sometimes not obvious and not clear, often self-claimed, and frequently ascribed by others.²
Approaches and Actionable Vision
As the first step to creating an actionable DEI plan, we have identified a vision and set of approaches for infusing diversity, equity, and inclusion practices into all aspects of our organization. This includes examining the content we produce, the ways in which we build our community, the culture we uphold and proclaim, and the ways in which we communicate with the public. These statements will be the foundation of our forthcoming plan. Once again, we welcome comments and suggestions for additions.
- Highlight the work and voices of a diverse group of people in our publications, events, and exhibitions.
- Present programs and content that are relevant to the needs and interests of our audience, focusing on the impact of design.
- Ensure all our digital content is accessible to everyone, specifically focusing on making content accessible for vision and hearing-impaired community members.
- Partner with other organizations and institutions to create a network focused on addressing issues of DEI in design.
- Invite and solicit feedback from the community, both from sustained community members and those who have distanced themselves from the museum.
- Continue to diversify both the personal backgrounds and professional credentials of the people on our Think Tanks, Content Advisory Committees, and Board and Council.
- Establish a permanent DEI Board Committee to advise and hold the museum accountable to the developed DEI plan.
- Allocate funding and budgets to DEI initiatives.
- Research and contract staff, board, council, and volunteer DEI training programs.
- Diversify our staff, board, and council across all group identities, while collecting and analyzing recruitment and retention data.
- Review and revise all HR policies to meet best practices in DEI.
- Create paid internship and fellowship programs.
- Establish a system of recognition for work related to DEI.
- Listen respectfully to and act in accordance with feedback from the community.
- Transparently communicate the museum’s progress on the DEI plan and answer questions from the community as asked.
- Ensure our communication strategies are wide-reaching by specifically building relationships with community partners.
As a non-profit organization, we are committed to transparency and accountability to our community. In order to keep accountable to our efforts, we have identified three policy additions to our organizational structure that will allow for internal accountability. Alongside the following policy additions, we will be actively soliciting feedback from our community and partners to uphold our dedication to community accountability.
The DEI Committee will be responsible for advising the museum on its DEI plans, assisting in the education efforts of the museum team, benchmarking progress, and holding the museum accountable to the DEI plan.
A plan of how the museum will work toward the above goals over the next one, two, and three years, including measurable metrics where appropriate, will be made publicly available. A yearly annual report will be compiled by the museum team and reviewed by the DEI Committee, which will also be available publicly.
Leadership Personal Development Plans
T0 ensure the long-term commitment of leadership to the values and mission of the DEI plan, all leadership positions will create and be held accountable to a personal development plan centered on DEI training and education. These plans will also be reflected in the leadership’s performance reviews.
- Fernandes, Catarina R., and Jeffrey T. Polzer. “Diversity in Groups.” Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences: An Interdisciplinary, Searchable, and Linkable Resource, edited by Robert A. Scott, et al., Wiley, 2015.
- Social Identity Wheel.” University of Michigan LSA. https://sites.lsa.umich.edu/inclusive-teaching/sample-activities/social-identity-wheel/, Accessed 16 Sep 2020.