Isabel Pintado of Wilson Associates, one of the leading design studios in the region, talks about the need for diversity in the design business and beyond.

To achieve a dynamic workplace, transparency and representation are integral.  When the design studio – or for that matter, any workplace – gives its team a sense of being ‘seen’, and a platform to be ‘heard’, its gives them the confidence to bring their personality, background and experiences to the work at hand. And that enriches the quality of solutions found.

My favourite part of the design process is exactly that sweet spot when colleagues start challenging what the most experienced designers have proposed and it sparks a different approach to the norm. It’s those moments that keep me motivated. Those are the moments where true creativity comes to life. The balance of not being limited by the status quo or being held back by those with years of experience is the secret to those moments.

A lack of representation of our different cultures will ultimately stagnate any industry.  Without bringing different points of views to the table we cannot evolve. There are many businesses – in design and otherwise – that were once very successful, but in recent times, have shrunk or entirely disappeared. One of the main reasons is that their values and attitudes have not kept up.

Diversity is as good for business, as it is for the creative process. As we approach our projects we always undertake research which factors in a sense of place and location. It helps, to have diverse perspectives feed into the creative conversation, to ensure the final results are not caricatures or a collage of clichés.

During my career as a manager of design firms I have encountered various scenarios where racism and sexism were rampant and if there is one thing I have learned is that change can’t come from silence. We all need to speak up against behaviour and attitudes that are inappropriate and damaging to individuals and the work culture.

Change at the workplace has to come across multiple levels – from transparency in the hiring process and higher standards of accountability within the business, to actively seeking out clients and collaborators advocating for positive change.

Diversity is a necessity for any creative environment, we must make it non-optional and lead by example.