Why Empathy Isn’t Enough: Katie Schlott on Tapping the Power of Inclusive Design

by iacollaborative on 01.09.2022
Nokia Global Factors Human Conference IA Collaborative

Client Growth Partner Katie Schlott has been published in Fast Company, championing inclusive design principles as the timely and necessary pathway for business leaders to build affirming workplaces that work for all.

The article, titled “Empathy isn’t enough. Why inclusive design principles unlock what leaders need,” invites business leaders to think beyond empathy and instead implement inclusive design principles in their organization.

Extending the possible uses and needs of products and environments to the widest variety of people is not only the right thing to do; it’s the only way we’ll create a fair, just, and ethical world. It’s also the best way to uncover new opportunities for growth innovation.

— Katie Schlott, Partner, IA Collaborative

Whereas empathy runs the risk of serving as an imaginative exercise only, inclusive design gives leaders the frameworks they need to affirm and strengthen their teams. As Schlott writes, leveraging inclusive design helps leaders to challenge unintentional exclusion, center diverse experiences, and design for all.

Challenge unintentional exclusion

Build spaces intentionally designed for collaboration and knowledge-sharing among those who have been historically excluded or minimized at work.

At IA Collaborative, we emphatically believe in the strategic business value of inclusive design. To this end, we created a Design for Women capability: A roundtable series and connector network serving to illuminate topics and situations that are acutely experienced by women but under-addressed by design. Attendees of the inaugural roundtable event included more than 25 executives from high-impact brands such as Airbnb, Johnson & Johnson, Google, USAA, Microsoft, Nike, and more. 

Put people at the center of the experience

Apply a “human-centered observational approach to fact-finding.” As Schlott writes: “You can apply it at work by observing and listening with your colleagues serving as the experts. This approach allows you to better understand their day-to-day realities and challenges they need help solving.”

Solve or one, expand to many

Consider the different abilities of your workforce. Ask who traditional work structures support—and who they leave out.

In Schlott’s words: “Inclusive design applied to leadership is essential for designing solutions and creating workplaces that affirm everyone on [y]our team. ”

For business leaders, designing more equitable futures is intrinsic to strategic growth and innovation. When all voices are heard, impact is greatest.

Read the full article HERE.

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