People focus on numbers to identify the racial representation in an organization/industry – and this makes sense. Quantitative data gives us a real snapshot of a company’s makeup and allows organizations to track their progress and where to make improvements. At Clearly Innovative, I work with a team of eleven in D.C., two in NJ/NY and two in Europe. Our staff is small, and as we continue to grow it is important for us to always be mindful about diversity in the workplace. Last week’s coverage on Google’s diversity disclosure and local D.C. tech tweets motivated me to think about Clearly Innovative’s diversity. What is our office’s breakdown? Can we identify ourselves in another way besides a list of numbers? Is there room to celebrate diversity amidst Google’s sobering data?
I explored a celebratory perspective on diversity by challenging myself to illustrate each of my co-workers and myself as swatches of color rather than percentages. To test this, I employed Adobe Kuler. Kuler is a color palette generator and is incredibly useful when choosing color schemes for a design project. I typically only use Kuler’s website, and for this experiment I used its mobile app which allows a user to take a picture of anything while five widgets move around the screen to grab prominent colors in the photo.
For those who participated, I took a very close-up shot of my co-workers against a neutral background. During this activity, we realized I needed to be about three inches from their faces so that the face took up the entire screen and to ensure Kuler would not grab background colors. Being three inches from someone’s face can be awkward. So, in most cases I recommended that they take a selfie. “Forcing” people to take selfies was fun (I mean, come on). Each photo generated a palette with five colors. Some expected the results they received, and with others a chorus of “oh” “huh?” “weird” erupted in surprise.
Adobe Kuler and I work together on my selfie game.
The results are beautiful. With fifteen participants, our office makeup ranges from baby pinks, caramel browns to olive greens. Take a look at the results:
My co-workers and I created a stunning human gallery and I invite you to do the same. My findings are not to discount the need for underrepresented communities to have more presence in the tech industry – I believe that it is an issue with much work to be done. This activity’s goal is to purely shed light on another way to think about ourselves as we talk about diversity in tech and diversity, in general. I hope to motivate you to conduct this experiment among your peers and have fun relishing in your results.