Embracing equity for clients & our team on International Women's Day - practical outcomes
For International Women's Day earlier this month, everyone at 42T met to discuss the theme of ‘embracing equity’. The aim was to find out what positive changes we could make to improve equity for our clients, and in our own workplace.
Questioning the status quo
To begin we asked ourselves: what is equity? A key part of this question was learning that equity and equality are very different things.
To achieve equity, individuals have to be treated differently based on their situation to each achieve the same outcome. For example, extra time given in exams for those with dyslexia.
At 42T, we understand these discussions around equity are important for women - as well as many other groups of people. In our work, we think of inclusivity as necessary when developing innovations – considering the needs of multiple users and stakeholders to achieve a design that works for everyone.
However, the implications of unbiased and innovative thinking require us to challenge our clients as well as ourselves on requirements for the product design.
This is where it may be useful to ask questions such as: What types of bias exist, where is bias typically found, and what can we do to improve the situation?
During the discussions, we asked - and will be continuing to ask - these questions of ourselves in a bid to uncover unconscious biases as a way to enrich our own understanding, improve our way of working and our expertise for our clients.
We discussed topics across the sectors the team work in – consumer, industrial and healthcare – and a number of interesting anecdotes were revealed, including:
- the lack of data available on anthropometric strength for women. Traditionally, the data is available for men with women being considered two-thirds as strong in all physiological measurements
- the cultural perception of body types and the availability of clothing to suit people of all shapes and sizes was discussed
- gendered versions of the same products e.g. shavers and shampoos where products are first imagined for one and merely modified slightly for the other
- in healthcare, those on a low income have more health issues due to the availability of quality care and healthy food at reasonable prices
- some treatments that are based on functional models developed primarily for male physiology
And also, how we could change ourselves and working life at 42T by:
- Reviewing our project templates to make sure we always consider equity and inclusivity
- Building in considerations for those who are neuro-diverse in our project planning
- Providing tools to help the working experience of those with neuro-diverse needs
- Developing ways to get the most out of multiple personality types in innovation workshops
- Improving our workspace even further to fit a variety of working methods and needs
After a couple of weeks, collective recommendations were reached and practical changes made by the 42T executive team.
Embracing different perspectives
Sue Smith, Chief Financial Officer and Director at 42T, sums up: "Unless one starts from a position of empathy and a willingness to discuss bias openly and tackle the issues, the quality of research, design and therefore product offerings, will suffer.
"Remembering to take perspective on someone else's experience, staying out of judgement, and paying attention to a shift in behaviour or attitude that alerts you to an issue, is only a first step.
"At 42T, it's an approach that runs through how we do business, from how we tackle the innovation process for our clients to how we treat our colleagues. But importantly, hiring people that come from a range of backgrounds, perspectives and experiences, is not only essential but invaluable to our business."
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