Earlier this year we sat down with AIGA DC’s current and past presidents Kim Arias and Rica Rosario to speak with them about a myriad of topics related to emerging designers. The following is an excerpt from our interview, focused on how AIGA DC has embedded diversity and inclusion into its DNA.
Q: How do you embed diversity and inclusion into your chapter culture?
One place to start, and the easiest place to start, is to look around your board. We’re incredibly mindful of the makeup of our board. We curate who we invite to join our team because we want to make sure that our board is reflective of the people we serve.
We want D&I to be naturally woven into the fabric that is our chapter and/or board. By that we mean, everyone on the board should be mindful and be champions and aware of D&I initiatives, and open to those hard conversations. For example, when we’re programming and picking out panelists, no one on our board is shy to say “Ehh, this looks a little homogenous…” The people that you’re giving a platform to have to represent diversity.
Q: How do you embed diversity and inclusion into event programming?
From an event planning perspective, make sure you have a setup that appeals and is for people from many walks of life. Think about accessibility. Also, take into account that you should create an environment that is inviting as well as a conversation that is diverse.
Create a safe space where it is okay to have those awkward and potentially scary and offensive conversations… [On the back end] there’s a lot of hard conversations that our board has had, and we’re asking certain questions because we just don’t know. We recognize that we’re ignorant in some areas about D&I, but we’re trying to learn. If you approach it from that perspective, it’s a little less daunting.
You definitely have to disrupt the conversation to get anywhere to grow.
Q: AIGA DC has amped up its programming in recent years, particularly through partnerships with other local area groups that have a focus on D&I. As the incoming and exiting presidents, can you give us more insight and background into these collaborations?
In order to make DC a creative hub, you have to partner with other people. You can’t do it on your own… The DC design and DC tech communities are pretty tight knit. What we love about this is that we are collectively very generous with our time and effort, resources and tools and connections, so that we can push forward and bubble up this awesome programming that people might not necessarily be aware of unless all of our groups promote each other. We’re not necessarily competitive. We want to be complementary and supportive.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks to follow our Emerging Voices interview series. This multimedia series will explore the day-to-day experiences and perspectives of emerging designers and members of the greater tech community.