What If We Designed All Workplaces for Single Moms of Color?
The workplace user experience for this demographic sucks. Here’s what we can do about it.
We live in a world designed by white men. Our workplaces and all of our major systems — healthcare, justice, government, education —have grown and evolved over the years, but they are still rooted in sexist, racist soils.
We’ve made some promising advancements in the realms of diversity, equity, and inclusion, to be sure. We also have a long way to go. As of 2020, 86% of Fortune 500 CEOs were still white men. Among Fortune 500 board members, only 28% of board seats were held by women and only 21% by people of color.
Within and beyond Fortune 500 companies, any woman and/or person of color who “makes it,” still does so against the odds.
Most of us now understand that while diversification is an important piece of the puzzle, these efforts are unlikely to be successful without parallel efforts to create a more inclusive workplace. How can we make sure the white bros play nice with the rest of us?
But here’s the rub: Even if the white bros play nice, we’re still playing the white bros’ game.
There are times when I stumble across a radical concept that makes so much sense, I can’t believe I’ve never thought about it that way before.
As a UX strategist and digital marketer, I’ve created my fair share of personas —that is, cleverly named mythical people who represent a “core demographic,” like Gen X Gwen or Retired Randy.
Though I’ve always understood the rationale behind creating these personas, I’ve also found that they typically end up being generic stock photo models with mostly generic needs — easily forgettable and only marginally useful.
Then I learned about inclusive design.
In Design for Real Life, Eric Meyer and Sara Wachter-Boettcher describe the concept this this way:
“Instead of treating stress situations as fringe concerns, it’s time we move them to the center of our conversations — to start with our most vulnerable, distracted, and stressed-out users, and then work our way outward.”