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AIGA goes ‘double or nothing’ to spark change in design industry by pushing for women in leadership


By Kyle O'Brien | Creative Works Editor

March 13, 2018 | 6 min read

Design association AIGA has launched a new movement it hopes will double the number of women leaders in design. ‘Double or Nothing’ kicks off during Women’s History Month with the launch of a website, building momentum within the design community to achieve the goal.

Double or Nothing from AIGA

Double or Nothing campaign from AIGA looks to increase women in design leadership

The website will continually expand and evolve with resources such as a corporate pledge for gender equity, practical toolkits, career advice and insights, and inspiring stories about female designers who are breaking boundaries in their field.

Double or Nothing is a movement to create tangible impact and forge partnerships between women who want to lead, and individuals and organizations committed to helping them do so, according to a release.

Spearheaded by AIGA’s Women Lead Initiative and a coalition from Blue State Digital, Decker Design, IBM, Lippincott, Pentagram, and Quartz, Double or Nothing intends to catalyze massive change by confronting the ingrained biases that exist within the design industry. Female design leadership ranges from only 4-11% percent, depending upon business sector and individual surveys, despite being a primarily female profession (53.5% of designers are women, according to the latest Design Census by AIGA and Google).

AIGA sees that there isn’t a pipeline problem but rather a promotion, pay and retention problem.

Double or Nothing

“Once in the workplace, particularly after five to 10 years, there is a lack of mentorship, celebration of female work, support for mothers, and equal pay,” said Lynda Decker of Decker Design and co-chair women lead committee, AIGA. “At this state of their career, women often do not feel empowered to negotiate pay and the position they deserve or are reluctant to ask for guidance. We want that to end.”

Pentagram, a lead partner, developed the Double or Nothing creative strategy including the name, brand identity, voice and website design.

“We’re working to empower women to have a stronger path toward getting what they want and deserve,” said Emily Oberman, who led the team at Pentagram. “To that end, we’re looking for companies to make a public pledge of commitment and to be held accountable for meeting goals. You can bet that savvy designers will be drawn to those companies working to ensure inclusivity and balance.”

“This is not just a campaign – it’s a movement to promote continuous and much-needed progress,” said Heather Stern of Lippincott and co-chair women lead committee, AIGA. “Double or Nothing alludes to the ‘duos’ required to achieve our goal: pay and promotion, men and women, design and business, aspiring leaders and those who want to support them.”

Blue State Digital (BSD), a lead partner, built the website and lent its proprietary BSD tools to serve as a foundation for communications and engagement.

“The awareness and momentum are there – it's time for our community to design a solution to achieve parity,” said Laura Kunkel, women lead committee member and creative director at Blue State Digital. “It can be done and we're going to do it.”

As part of the initiative, AIGA national partner IBM will help develop a series of tangible commitments and best practices for companies to adopt in order to accelerate progress for female designers.

“IBM has a commitment to diversity and equality in all of our practices and we’re thrilled to be a launch partner with AIGA in this important initiative,” said Doug Powell, distinguished designer at IBM and former AIGA national president. IBM was recently recognized as 2018 Catalyst Award winner for its efforts in supporting women in the workplace.

To expand the reach and influence of all of these efforts, AIGA has partnered with Quartz’s How We’ll Win project, a year-long exploration of the fight for gender equality. How We’ll Win highlights strategies for supporting inclusivity, women in power, and the next generation of leaders, including insights from some of the world's most powerful and influential women across every industry.

“We’re thrilled to be joining forces with AIGA’s Double or Nothing movement as female leadership in any industry is a critical component of business success”, said Joy Robins, chief revenue officer for Quartz. “Quartz’s How We’ll Win project and the Double or Nothing initiative are focused on making the strong business case for promoting equality in the workplace.”

Concluded AIGA executive director Julie Anixter: “Our pledge is to continue to champion women's leadership, as well as women and men who support diversity and inclusion. Double or Nothing is a great example of not just talking the talk, but walking the walk.”

The movement encourages people to visit the Double or Nothing website and use the hashtags #AIGAwomenlead and #DoubleOrNothingAiga in social media.

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