Skip to main contentRacial Equity in Design

It’s about time
we have the
courage to start
the conversation.

The frustration of racial inequity has been cast under a stark spotlight that no one can ignore, and the reality is, things aren’t going to change unless we take concerted steps to change them. Enough is enough. We have to do better. It is time we challenge the systems in place and design a better future.

Trayvon Martin. Eric Garner. Michael Brown. Atatiana Jefferson. Philando Castile. George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. Jacob Blake. Daniel Prude.

and the many killed, harassed, victimized that we cannot name because there were no cameras or witnesses. This past summer, IBM Designers came together to share thoughts about systemic racism and police brutality. Holding this discussion was paramount for expressing otherwise muted frustration. From that important and engaging discussion, the Racial Equity in Design initiative was born.

But that conversation was only the tip of the iceberg. Systemic racism reaches deep into all aspects of our society, and impacts all of our futures. The time is now for coming together and effecting change. We recognize that within this company, and within this industry, diversity is an issue that still needs to be solved. We need more Black designers, more Black design leaders. We cannot pretend societal issues do not exist, or downplay our ability to impact through the actions we take, the investments we choose, and the work we create. We are focused on creating space to confront and address continued social justice issues-to give space to:

… show up authentically
… express how we feel
… make new connections
… and share lived experiences.

This is not up for debate— our team is here to help make IBM Design as systemically antiracist as possible.

A photo of designer Lawrence Humphrey.

“Institutionalized racism is a systemic problem. It requires a systemic solution.”

Lawrence Humphrey

Design consultant and strategist

The Center for Social Inclusion defines “racial equity“ as an outcome and a process. As an outcome, we achieve racial equity when race no longer determines one’s socioeconomic outcomes; when everyone has what they need to thrive, no matter where they live. As a process, we apply racial equity when those most impacted by structural racial inequity are meaningfully involved in the creation and implementation of the institutional policies and practices that impact their lives.

And that’s where we begin. By making measurable differences at the most impactful point, we all rise.

The creation of informed, impactful, human-centered design mandates us to ensure racial equity is not an extension of our principles, but embodied in them. At our core:

Design is how we build bonds.

We are making this happen through our commitment to form equitable communities of designers, rooted in what we stand for.

Think → Guide.

We are analyzing the data, and reporting the numbers to ensure we have, and share, a clear understanding of the truth, and commit to invest in the career success, of our Black designers.

Stand for = Stand out.

We are championing honest conversation, forging supportive pathways for change, and advocating room for sharing impactful design by fostering authentic interpersonal interactions in safe spaces.

Leadership team
Nigel Prentice, Initiative lead
Renee Albert
Andrea Barbarin
Ryan Caruthers
Herman Colquhoun Jr.
Alisha Moore
Brad Neal
Ann Novelli
Will Scott
Jessica Tremblay
Raven Veal
Joelle Williams

Field guide work stream
Raven Veal, Squad lead
Renee Albert
Rob Pierce
January Holmes
Andrew Friedenthal
Analuisa Del Rivero
Ryan Caruthers
+ numerous contributors

Call to action work stream
Andrea Barbarin, Squad lead
Allison Biesboer
Claudia Matteo
Michael Muller
Rob Pierce
Joelle Williams
+ numerous contributors

Podcast work stream
Alisha Moore, Squad lead
Ann Novelli, Squad lead
David Avila
Lindsey Barrett
Ryan Caruthers
+ numerous contributors

Career success work stream
Will Scott, Squad lead
Renee Albert
Joe DiGioia
Jess Lin
Brad Neal
Sabine Roehl
Nicole Umphress
+ numerous contributors

Website work stream
Jessica Tremblay, Squad lead
Renee Albert
David Avila
Ryan Caruthers
Ale Davila Scott Strubberg
+ numerous contributors