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We know we have a culture problem in the organisation; and we know women don’t like our products. We suspect the two are related.

One of the largest technology companies in the world came to us and said, we have a culture problem internally and we also know that women don’t like our products. We suspect the two are related and it has us looking toward inclusion to see what else we might be missing. Can you help us attend to both issues (internal culture and product gaps) and help us understand how to look at problems from with an inclusive design lens?

We worked, through several workshops, with the company to show how inclusive design thinking can have an impact on culture, practices, processes, and products. We worked with leadership and with staff to break down barriers of “that’s the way we’ve always done it” and “that’s who our user is” to uncover gaps in thinking, doing, and feeling. We worked with design and development teams to help them think through solving issues of accessibility by interpreting WCAG and moving beyond the usual. We worked with the organization’s HR department to revamp hiring and job descriptions to ensure we were writing in a way that was encouraging and inclusive. We helped the organization see how to not just involve people from marginalized groups, but how to co-design with them. Instead of focusing on the 80% (which made this company a leader) we showed them how they are not meeting the needs of some and that doing so can reveal untapped markets for them. We showed them that these are the seeds of innovation – looking to the edges - and that they as a company could benefit from a diversification in thinking about how they do things, how they think about solving problems, and who they engage to do that work.

Since then the company has made dramatic movements toward inclusion, with great press and with a newfound fan base in the untapped markets. We know that people with disabilities have brand loyalty. We also know their friends and family share that brand loyalty, amplifying the opportunities. We supplemented a process that the organization had already identified as a priority and as a result was able to have a lasting, deep and broad impact.

This work has been conducted by our partner organisation Inclusive Design Research Centre at OCAD University.