Internally, Harmonic Design’s DEI and Outreach collective refers to our group as “let’s make it better (LMIB).” We founded this working group because we believe that it is our continuous responsibility to do what we can to address diversity, equity, and inclusion in our field and at our company. Our group nickname reflects this motivation and our humility, as we know that engaging in this work is an ongoing process and learning experience.
Our group’s founding purpose is “To promote equitable awareness of, access to, and growth opportunities within careers in service design to achieve more diversity and better inclusion at our company and in our field.” We believe that when people of many diverse standpoints practice service design, the result is more inclusive and considerate services for all.
A group of employees founded this collective in 2022 with a strong interest in conducting educational outreach to schools and communities where service design may not be taught or contexts where design projects connect deeply with our local communities. Some of our engagements included:
This work has been an awesome team effort; here are some things our LMIB members took away from these engagements that will stick with them as we move into a new year.
Interacting with young thinkers is something I find great joy in! From 2020-2022 we partnered with Georgia Tech’s Design Bloc on the social design-oriented course “VIP.” The cross-listed course led by our friend Shawn Harris II focussed on co-design with the constituents for whom the students were designing solutions. Mariah and I taught systems thinking and service design mindsets and approaches. These frameworks help students understand the context and system of the holistic design subject. They also help students zoom out on the experience end-to-end rather than design a single touchpoint in a single moment. Over the semesters, we have seen students take ideas we introduced and put their own spin on them. Seeing students and community members grasp what we taught and not be afraid to try new approaches to solving problems was very rewarding! Teaching and outreach are powerful means to introduce design tools for change to a broader audience, and I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to play a part.
- Arjun Srinivas
I've been noticing designers take a stronger stance in promoting DEI in our profession, to name a few—Wendy Johansson, Vivianne Castillo, and the group Where are the Black Designers. I applaud and learn from their efforts, but there's still much work to be done! Ultimately, I'd like to see the diversity of experiences reflected in those who design them. And this is why I am so excited to be part of the LMIB group at Harmonic, where we are actively working towards promoting design opportunities in underrepresented communities.
Working towards increasing design career exposure through LMIB, I've worked with high school groups for in-person career experiences and facilitated two service design workshops at Spelman Innovation Lab. Like most designers over the age of 30, I came into service design later in my career, so I'm excited to share what the profession entails through my learned experience. Every session, I'm deeply moved by the students' talent and left with a bit more optimism for the future of design. These experiences allow us to form long-lasting relationships and provide a spark for students to consider design as a career. Developing educational paths to a design career is also part of my volunteer work through Georgia Tech's College of Design Advisory Board; I'm glad to see more organizations tackling diversity in design.
- Becky Scheel
Welcoming the high school students of The Next Gen program into our studio and our world of service design was incredibly rewarding. In under two hours, we introduced them to service design, taught them key skills they can use in any future career, and we had fun doing so! I really enjoyed our closing conversation with the students, where they asked powerful and meaningful questions about how we each found our way into service design. I learned something new from watching and listening to my fellow Harmonicas respond thoughtfully to the questions and facilitate the students through the various engaging activities. The entire experience left a lasting impression, and I look forward to many future events!
- Leah Berg
I have loved seeing such a dedicated subset of our company engage with this work. As a group of people with connections in academia and passion for exchanging knowledge, it was natural for us to dive into many educational events. I am grateful for the opportunities we had to connect with so many talented and visionary students through our engagements last year. This year, I am excited to dig deeper into topics around how to create the most impact doing DEI work in our company and field and how to introduce topics such as DEI and accessibility more deeply into our own design methods. I also look forward to connecting with diverse groups outside of traditional school institutions to build more awareness of our field.
- Mariah Mills
I love our LMIB collective. For the external work, I love the Next Gen partnership and our educational outreach vision, especially as someone who struggled to find their professional calling. It has been a pleasure to meet different cohorts of students and introduce them to the field of Service Design. The internal work we continue to grow is important to me because it allows me to engage in meaningful discussions with my colleagues, consider alternate opinions and ideas, continue to learn and grow, reflect on my own biases, and help create an environment where everyone feels safe, seen, and heard.
- Olivia Lucas
The Next Gen program has been wonderful in inviting us to introduce service design to teenagers exploring what’s possible for their careers. Adults often forget the benefit of play; the Next Gen students demonstrated creativity, curiosity, and empathy while having fun using different service design tools (e.g., empathy maps and generative ideation). It was incredibly rewarding to expose them to service design, and it would be amazing to help even one student further explore learning about our field. We need more diversity and the talent exhibited by Next Gen!
- Patrick Quattlebaum
What makes me excited about being a part of LMIB is that I can raise awareness about Service Design to a diversity of students. I've always felt quite lucky about finding Service Design as a career because if it weren’t for my circumstances, I wouldn’t have even known it existed! I feel like I owe it to share to everybody about the special value Service Design brings and the potential they could have with it.
As a part of LMIB, I participated in the Next Gen and Spelman Innovation Lab events. In these sessions, we invited young students to the Harmonic office, shared our tools and methods, and worked on small activities related to Service Design. All in all, it was a breath of fresh air to connect with the local community, share my passion, and interact with students with so much potential. With each event, I felt inspired by the students' curiosity, which fueled my excitement for what will come next for LMIB
In 2023, we aim to continue some of these engagements and start up a few new initiatives while learning and teaching ourselves how to do this work better for a more significant impact. If you are a part of an organization that aligns with our purpose and vision, please reach out to us; we are looking for new partnerships and resources for our team to become more effective. We’re looking forward to what comes next!