This time last year we watched as outrage over the murder of George Floyd spurred protests in our hometown of Washington, D.C., and around the world. Floyd’s murder ignited a conversation about race and diversity within our own company — and the ways in which LookThink can better support BIPOC communities. We looked inward to see what work we could do to advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion inside and outside our workplace — and to make sure clients and employees alike understood our goals and expectations.
In observance of June 19th, 2020 — Juneteenth — we, the black members of the LookThink team, addressed the company about the historical significance of the date and its context within the protests of last summer. We held the LookThink Diversity Hub’s inaugural meeting the following week, crafted in the spirit of cultivating an inclusive, safe space for every story and voice to be heard. Juneteenth 2020 marks the first step in our journey to acknowledge the importance of culturally significant moments in our company culture. One year later, we look back on what we’ve learned.
What Is The LookThink Diversity Hub?
Built from the ground up, the LookThink Diversity Hub started with small conversations about the importance of diversity. As the conversations grew, we transformed our ideas into a fully functional Hub — a place to support one another, share and create resources, and make an impact in our community. We didn’t have a perfect blueprint for how a boutique shop could implement systemic change, so we created it ourselves.
“I am humbled and grateful to the team who brought this initiative to reality. The creation of the Diversity and Inclusion program and the widespread support for it within our company speaks volumes to the character and integrity of our employees. This initiative exemplifies the essence of what I believe is at the heart of LookThink’s culture — a shared positivity, a passionate respect for the experience of all people, and the persistent and honorable pursuit of what is right.”- Joe Mallek, President of LookThink
Turning Our Work Inward
As a user-experience shop committed to uncovering our clients’ unique needs, inclusion and deep listening is at the heart of every client engagement. We took the same discovery process we use for new clients and projects and turned it inwards: We researched best practices, analyzed diversity and inclusion departments at businesses large and small, and worked as a small group to translate those findings into a virtual context. In the spirit of company-wide ownership, we asked everyone to provide input and to help define goals. We worked together to build a structure that mirrored any other project we would run — and the LookThink Diversity Hub was born.
Embracing Trial & Error
We knew this new Hub would require continual work, refinement, and re-evaluation — and plenty of trial and error. We started by organizing our ideas in a way that we could chip away at over time.
- We identified three initiatives we all felt passionate about: community outreach, hiring processes, and diversifying practice. Using an Agile project methodology, we added initiatives to Jira — a software we use to manage client projects and track progress. We then treated these initiatives as Epics: chunks of work that could then be broken down into smaller, specified tasks.
- We picked one initiative to focus on. With so many ideas and excitement around tackling each initiative, it was hard to focus on any specific goal. To start, we began diversifying where we posted job listings — placing an emphasis on communities for women in tech and POC in tech. We highlighted links to our diversity statement and our equal opportunity pledge in each listing. And we’ve begun creating an anonymized hiring process to ensure that unintentional and implicit bias is never part of hiring.
- We created a safe space for conversation. We laid the groundwork for discussion so everyone could learn to feel comfortable with being uncomfortable — and dive into topics that might at first seem intimidating, but are necessary for building an inclusive community.
- Bi-monthly meetings. In order for LookThink to execute on tasks and share resources and research more regularly, we established a regular meeting cadence so this work could benefit from consistent conversation.
- Growing support for community engagement. During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, LookThink began working with local DC businesses, supporting their needs at significant discounts to counteract the impacts of the pandemic. Pursuing work that directly benefited our local community laid the foundation for early conversations we had in the Hub.
Throughout this process, we have reflected on and redesigned our work and goals by refining our communications, meeting cadences, and workflows. There is no end to unlearning racism — it’s a continual process that we’re all actively working to incorporate into our day-to-day life at LookThink. Next month we’ll be highlighting some of the road bumps we experienced along the way, so check back soon.
Authors & Co-Founders of the LookThink Diversity Hub:
Lola Fadojutimi, UX/UI Design Department Manager
Kyle Hardy, UX Project Strategist