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Understanding Identity, Power, & Equity in Design Leadership

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Understanding Identity, Power, & Equity in Design Leadership


5 min read
3 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Systems do what they are designed to do. Oppressive systems can, thus, be redesigned for equitable outcomes.

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Antionette Carroll, founder, president and CEO of Creative Reaction Lab, believes systems that perpetuate inequality and oppression do so by design. Therefore, designers dedicated to justice have an opportunity: to partner with disadvantaged communities to redesign the systems to produce more equitable outcomes. In this inspiring talk, given at Adobe’s career resource and annual conference, 99U, Carroll shares her own journey to becoming an equity designer and calls upon the design community at large to reexamine its biases and approaches to the profession.


Making design a more inclusive profession is about more than increased diversity.

People often talk about the need to increase diversity within the field of design. One 1991 study revealed, for example, that the graphic design industry was 93% white. A follow-up study conducted in 2019 shows that the design industry, overall, is still 71%, white. Black designers comprise just 3% of the industry.  

This lack of diversity is a problem. When you are the only minority voice in the room, you may not feel safe sharing your thoughts or identity freely. Having a wide array of perspectives is important. But, fundamentally, inclusion is about more than diversity: It’s about shifting your perspective on what it means to design for and help disadvantaged communities around the globe. Inclusive design means bringing the people living the problems you wish to solve into the design process in new ways to create more effective outcomes.

Designers have the power to...

About the Speaker

Antionette D. Carroll runs Design + Diversity LLC and is the founder, president and CEO of Creative Reaction Lab, a nonprofit educating and deploying youth to challenge racial and health inequities impacting Black and Latinx populations. 99U is Adobe’s career resource and annual conference for creatives.

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