Bridging the Gap: Black Girls In Design UK's Mission to Elevate Underrepresented Voices

Sandra Adu

Black Girls In Design  is a community-driven initiative dedicated to addressing the ongoing issue of underrepresentation and lack of inclusion in the creative industries. Our mission is to empower women from black communities in the UK by providing them with education, resources, and opportunities to explore viable career paths in Graphics, UX, and UI design.

At Black Girls In Design, we firmly believe in fostering a supportive and diverse design landscape. Our vision is to nurture, promote, and prepare talented women of colour for career opportunities that have often been overlooked. By equipping them with the necessary skills, knowledge, and resources, we aim to create a more inclusive and dynamic industry that embraces their unique talents and perspectives.

We have created a platform that serves as a hub for networking, sharing experiences, and celebrating the achievements of black women in design. We strive to inspire and uplift aspiring designers by showcasing success stories, offering mentorship, and facilitating connections with industry professionals.

In addition to our online presence, we also run creative workshops specifically designed for young black girls. Through these workshops, we aim to empower and inspire the next generation of designers by providing a nurturing environment for them to explore their creativity and develop valuable design skills. We believe in the importance of representation and providing mentorship to young black girls, giving them the tools they need to succeed in the design industry.

By encouraging greater representation and supporting the growth of black women in the design field, we are actively contributing to a more equitable and vibrant creative industry. Our goal is to create a space where diversity thrives, and where the talents and perspectives of women of color are celebrated and valued.

Representation is an incredibly important issue for the black communities of the UK

Representation is an incredibly important issue for the black communities of the UK, and here at Black Girls In Design, we are deeply passionate about championing it. Representation goes beyond just seeing someone who looks like us in positions of influence and success—it is about validating our experiences, amplifying our voices, and breaking down the barriers that have historically limited our opportunities.

When black individuals, particularly black women, are represented in various industries, including the creative field, it sends a powerful message to our communities. It tells us that our talents, skills, and perspectives are valued and deserving of recognition. It inspires us to dream bigger, to challenge societal norms, and to strive for excellence in our chosen fields.

Moreover, representation is crucial for challenging negative stereotypes and dismantling systemic biases. By showcasing the achievements and contributions of black individuals in design, we are actively combating the underrepresentation and marginalization that have long been prevalent in the industry. This visibility not only empowers and uplifts black designers, but it also creates a path for future generations to follow.

Representation is about more than just individuals. It is about shifting the narrative, reshaping the industry, and fostering a more inclusive and equitable society. When black communities see themselves reflected in the creative industries, it disrupts the status quo and opens doors to increased opportunities and diversity of thought.

At Black Girls In Design, we believe that representation is a fundamental right. We are committed to amplifying the voices of black women and girls in the design industry through mentorship programs, workshops, and resources. Our goal is to create a supportive community where black aspiring designers can thrive and be celebrated for their unique and valuable contributions.

We wholeheartedly believe that by prioritizing representation, we can create a more inclusive and diverse design industry—one that reflects the richness and vibrancy of the black community in the UK. Together, let us continue to challenge the narrative, shatter ceilings, and empower the future generations of black designers.

Talk to us about representation and why it's so important to the black communities of the UK?

Representation is a deeply significant issue for the black communities of the UK, and as Black Girls In Design UK, we believe in its power to positively impact individuals and transform society. Representation is about visibility, validation, and breaking down the barriers that have long hindered opportunities for black individuals in the creative industries.

When black individuals see themselves represented in the design industry, it sends a powerful message. It tells us that our abilities, experiences, and perspectives are valued and deserving of recognition. It inspires us to pursue our passions, dream bigger, and challenge societal norms. Representation serves as a beacon of hope, showing us that success in the creative field is possible.

Moreover, representation is a necessary step towards dismantling stereotypes and systemic biases. By showcasing the achievements and contributions of black designers, we challenge the notion that creativity is limited to a specific race or ethnic group. We break down stereotypes that have long perpetuated exclusion and marginalization.

Representation fosters a sense of belonging and pride within the black community. It validates our existence and erases feelings of invisibility or insignificance. It allows us to see ourselves reflected in the world around us, opening doors and creating a sense of possibility. Representation empowers us to embrace our unique talents and forge our own path in the design industry.

Additionally, representation goes beyond individuals. It has the power to reshape the industry itself. By uplifting and celebrating black designers, we bring new perspectives, creativity, and innovation to the forefront. This enriches the industry as a whole, leading to more diverse and inclusive design solutions that reflect the needs and experiences of a wider range of people.

Through advocacy, mentorship, and community-building, Black Girls In Design UK works tirelessly to promote representation within the design industry. We provide platforms for black designers to showcase their work, connect with mentors, and support one another. We aim to empower black girls and women to pursue their creative aspirations, knowing that their voices deserve to be heard.

In conclusion, representation is essential to the black communities of the UK. It breaks down barriers, empowers individuals, and drives positive change in the design industry. At Black Girls In Design UK, we are dedicated to amplifying the voices and talents of black designers, creating opportunities, and shaping a more inclusive and equitable future for all.

How do you go about solving some of the issues you've identified when it comes to lack of inclusion within the creative and design industries?

As Black Girls In Design UK, we actively work towards addressing the lack of inclusion within the creative and design industries. Here are some approaches and initiatives we employ to tackle these issues:

• Education and Outreach Programs: We organize workshops, mentorship programs, and outreach initiatives to engage and inspire young black girls and women to pursue careers in design. By providing opportunities for skill-building, networking, and exposure to industry professionals, we aim to bridge the gap and create pathways for inclusion.

• Representation and Visibility: We highlight the work and achievements of black designers through platforms such as exhibitions, events, and social media campaigns. By showcasing their talent, we challenge the narrative of underrepresentation and amplify their voices, promoting diversity as a driving force for innovation and creativity.

• Advocacy and Awareness: We actively advocate for diversity and inclusion within the creative and design industries. Through campaigns, partnerships, and collaborations, we raise awareness about the importance of representation and the systemic barriers that exist. We engage in dialogues with industry stakeholders, urging them to take meaningful action to create more inclusive environments.

• Networking and Support: We foster a supportive community for black girls and women in design. By providing spaces for networking, mentorship, and collaboration, we empower individuals to connect with like-minded peers, share experiences, and access resources. This support system helps to navigate the challenges and build resilience within the industry.

• Partnerships and Collaborations: We collaborate with organizations, companies, and educational institutions that share our vision for diversity and inclusion. By working together, we can leverage resources, amplify our impact, and create sustainable change within the industry.

• Advocacy for Policy Change: We advocate for policy changes that address systemic barriers and promote inclusivity. By engaging with policymakers, industry associations, and educational institutions, we work towards reforms that ensure fair representation, diverse hiring practices, and equal opportunities for black designers.

• Celebrating Diversity and Role Models: We celebrate the achievements of black designers, highlighting their contributions and impact across various design disciplines. By showcasing diverse role models, we provide inspiration and create a positive narrative that challenges stereotypes and biases.

Overall, we recognize that achieving true inclusion requires a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach. Through education, advocacy, representation, and community-building, we strive to create lasting change within the creative and design industries and provide opportunities for black girls and women to thrive.

What's been the biggest milestone and achievement for you and your business?

As Black Girls In Design, we are incredibly proud of all our achievements and milestones. It's difficult to single out just one as the biggest, but we believe that every step forward is a triumph worth celebrating. This year, collaborating with grassroots organisations and facilitating design workshops has been a significant milestone for us.

Working with these organisations allowed us to bring design education and empowerment to communities that may not have had access to such opportunities before. Witnessing the transformative impact of these workshops on individuals and communities has been truly inspiring. Our aim has always been to empower and uplift, and these collaborations have allowed us to do just that.

Additionally, having our community design the branding for the Women's Equality Party Conference and the UN Women UK Awards has been a remarkable achievement. It's a testament to the talent and creativity within our community. We are honored and grateful to have been entrusted with these important projects, showcasing the incredible design skills of black girls and women in the industry.

Every milestone and achievement propels us forward, reinforcing our commitment to fostering inclusivity and empowering black creatives. We see these accomplishments as stepping stones towards greater change and progress. Our collective impact grows with every opportunity we seize and every life we touch.

However, we understand that our work is far from done. We will continue to push boundaries, challenge systemic biases, and advocate for a more inclusive design industry. We are dedicated to supporting and amplifying the voices of black girls and women in design, breaking down barriers, and uplifting our community.

We are immensely grateful for your support and the role you play in our journey. Together, we can continue to create meaningful milestones and bring about lasting change.

What's your plan over the next five years?

As Black Girls In Design UK, our plan over the next five years is to continue our mission of promoting diversity and inclusion within the design industry. Here are some key areas we will be focusing on:

• Educational Reform: We will actively collaborate with educational bodies and institutions to advocate for and actively work towards diversifying the design curriculum. This includes promoting the inclusion of diverse perspectives, histories, and voices in design education. By challenging the existing norms and biases, we aim to create a more equitable and inclusive learning environment for all aspiring designers.

• Intervention Programs: We will develop and implement intervention programs specifically targeting underprivileged black girls. These programs will provide mentorship, skill-building opportunities, and support networks to nurture their growth and potential. By addressing the systemic barriers that hold back underprivileged individuals, we strive to create pathways for success and ensure equal opportunities for all.

• Industry Partnerships: We will continue to forge partnerships with industry stakeholders, design firms, and companies that share our vision of diversity and inclusion. By working together, we can create meaningful change within the industry, promoting equitable hiring practices, and fostering inclusive environments. These partnerships will provide avenues for employment, networking, and mentorship for black designers.

• Community Building: We will actively build and strengthen our community of black girls and women in design. This includes organizing networking events, mentorship programs, and online platforms to facilitate connections, collaborations, and support. By creating a supportive and empowering community, we aim to counter the isolation and underrepresentation often experienced by black women in the industry.

How You Can Support Us:

• Spread the Word: Help us amplify our message and spread awareness about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the design industry. Share our initiatives, events, and success stories on social media and in your networks.

• Collaboration: Consider partnering with us on projects, events, or initiatives that align with our mission. By working together, we can leverage our collective resources and expertise to create a more significant impact.

• Mentorship and Support: If you are a design professional, consider becoming a mentor to aspiring black designers. Your guidance and support can be instrumental in helping them navigate the industry and achieve their goals.

• Donate or Sponsor: Financial support can help us sustain and expand our programs and initiatives. If you are in a position to donate or sponsor our work, please reach out to explore how you can contribute.

We appreciate your interest in supporting us on our journey towards creating a more inclusive design industry. Together, we can make a lasting difference and empower black girls and women to thrive in the world of design.

7. Black Girls In Design UK has developed the Parent Toolkit for young designers in response to our research. This toolkit is available in both digital and print formats and serves as a comprehensive resource to answer frequently asked questions about design. In addition, it highlights and showcases the work of prominent Black British designers, aiming to educate and inspire young designers.

The Parent Toolkit provides key information and addresses common misconceptions about design. It can be easily located and downloaded from our website, making it accessible for parents, educators, and young aspiring designers.

With this toolkit, we hope to bridge the knowledge gap and provide valuable support to those interested in pursuing a career in design. By featuring examples of successful Black British designers, we aim to promote diversity and representation within the design industry and inspire young designers from all backgrounds.

To access the Parent Toolkit and explore the wealth of resources it offers, please visit our website. It is our belief that through education and inspiration, we can empower the next generation of designers to thrive and make a lasting impact in the world of design.

About the Author

Sandra Adu

Sandra is a multidisciplinary design educator and cultural policy researcher with experience in design education and community work. Her research thesis explores the experiences and aspirations of Black graphic designers in the Creative Arts Industry, which is a crucial step towards fostering a more inclusive and diverse industry. The outcomes of this research will significantly impact how the industry perceives and understands the unique challenges and strengths of Black creatives in Britain.

Join Us!

Join the community for access to workbooks, guides and workshop replays + a supportive community of founders and freelancers.

Join the community