Design should be an asset, but poor design can become a liability and cost companies hundreds of millions of dollars. Admittedly most design issues do not result in such dramatic losses, but most companies are still paying what Forrester has dubbed a “design debt interest payment” because of poor design.
Similarly, diversity is an asset, but a lack of diversity will surely become a liability. Consumers are demanding more action, but brands are struggling to find ways to address diversity in a meaningful way.
Fortunately in 2021, everything is intersectional. Companies can address design and diversity at the same time, but many express difficulty finding top tier talent from diverse backgrounds.
However, there is even a skilled labor shortage for companies that are not taking diversity into account. According to Elizabeth Mygatt, an expert associate partner at McKinsey, “talent is, in fact, a scarcer capital than financial capital.” Further compounding the skilled labor shortage is the fact that only 1 in 300 Americans participate in formalized on-the-job training programs, meaning few workers in the US actually participate in the upskilling necessary for the future of work.
“This is a revolutionary moment in HR. If you talk to CEOs, there are a number of surveys out that say they think HR and talent are their number-one priority. If you ask them about their confidence in their own HR department’s ability to tackle it, it’s really, really low,” states Chris Gagnon, Senior Partner at McKinsey.
However, there is a largely untapped workforce in Africa that can address both design and diversity issues. According to The Economist, Africa’s population of 1.2B+ will double to 2.5B by 2050, which means that 25% of the world population will be in Africa within the next 30 years. These demographic shifts mean that Africa should not only become a powerful consumer market but also a powerful creative market. For companies looking to futureproof, Africa is a crucial component.
Many companies recognize that diversity within design has a myriad of benefits and have been proactive in solving both diversity and design issues with a single solution. Other companies may not be as proactive and will argue that diversity within design already exists because diversity is simply a fact; however, what these companies must realize to truly leverage the benefits of diversity within design is that inclusion is an act.