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Equality in design: how gender parity can produce better creative

In this video series about the future of women in design, The Drum spoke to female leaders, and judges of The Drum Awards for Design, about their experiences within the industry, and what actionable changes are possible today.

Just as the conversation in the wider business world around gender equality has evolved, progress towards parity is occurring in the design sector. In particular there's a growing recognition that gender equality can be a driver for creative output.

Moderated by John Mathers, chairman of the British Design Fund, The Drum staged a roundtable discussion on the matter with Sue Daun, executive creative director, Interbrand; Chloe Templeman, creative director, Design Bridge; Natasha Chetiyawardana, creative partner and founder of Bow&Arrow and Rosanna Vitiello, co-founder of The Place Bureau.

The shift in creative is happening already, claims Daun. “Ideas, craft, and creativity are much richer because of it,” she explains. “Alongside that, the working practice of how we engage with individuals is much richer and more fulfilling for everybody as well. That’s something that inspires people to do more, create more and deliver better creativity. It’s only positive and having those voices in harmony is a must, not a wish.”

Creating a more balanced a workspace for people can only benefit both sexes, Templeman adds. Yet, one of the priority issues that needs to be addressed is ’everyday sexism’ in the form of misogynist banter. “The younger guys coming through are seeing that shift,” she explains. “The big issues are easy to call out, but the small things are something we should be aware off. It can only be a good thing for the craft as women can craft as well as men and bring fresh perspectives to the table.”

Vitiello surmises that taking a little bit more time at the strategy stage will produce a greater impact later. “But only if we help to design those systems around us and shape those new cultures,” she explains. “There’s one thing to have a system in place but many of the issues happen at the in-between stages, and we’ve got to find a way to shift the mindset so that it has an impact.”

Chetiyawardana concludes that positive actions must be taken, such as using inclusive language and pronouns. “It changes your outlook and your perceptions which will make your teams and cultures happier.

“It is incredible how those little differences can change your perception. If we do that positively, in our workplaces, at every little moment, we’ll have better teams and happier cultures. Diversity is about appealing and connecting with wider audiences, not just the norm.”

The Drum Awards for Design are closed for entry but extensions are available now.

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