Design Inspiration

Watch “What removing profile photos taught me about design’s ability to reduce discrimination” with Benjamin Evans

Can you use design to tackle racism? Inclusive Design Lead Benjamin Evans shares a case study on how his team uses negative space to reduce discrimination and build belonging in Airbnb’s global community

In 2016, Airbnb guests began to share their experiences of being discriminated due to the colour of their skin. #AirbnbWhileBlack became an inflexion point that drove Airbnb to confront the reality that, despite the companies mission of “belonging”; underrepresented groups feel like *do not belong* on Airbnb.

Benjamin Evans joined Airbnb to lead design for their Anti-discrimination team. His job was to set up a product team whose mission is to see if it’s possible to use design to tackle discrimination

In this talk at IxDA‘s Interaction’20, Benjamin shares an action-focused case-study about his team’s work to remove profile photos from the Airbnb experience. The story will highlight how he used a relatively small UI/UX change that:

  1. Reduced discrimination across our global community. 
  2. Boosted business metrics (despite evidence to the contrary)
  3. Drove a shift in our company culture that helped us move closer to our mission of “belonging.”

The audience will leave with a nuanced understanding of the role that bias plays in their workflows, the insight that even the simplest UI/UX change can lead to dramatic effects, and with a simple tool that they can use to make more inclusive product decisions.

What removing profile photos taught me about design’s ability to reduce discrimination

About Benjamin Evans

Benjamin Earl Evans is a inclusive design lead – a new generation of problem solvers tackling issues like racism, sexism and bias. He uses Design Thinking to help everyone – from creative professionals to business leaders – create more inclusive products and services. Currently, he works as design lead for Airbnb’s anti discrimination team.

Source: Interaction 20 – Negative space: What removing profile photos taught me about design’s ability to reduce discrimination

By Itamar Medeiros

Originally from Brazil, Itamar Medeiros currently lives in Germany, where he works as Director of Design Strategy at SAP and lecturer of Project Management for UX at the M.Sc. Usability Engineering at the Rhein-Waal University of Applied Sciences .

Working in the Information Technology industry since 1998, Itamar has helped truly global companies in multiple continents create great user experience through advocating Design and Innovation principles. During his 7 years in China, he promoted the User Experience Design discipline as User Experience Manager at Autodesk and Local Coordinator of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA) in Shanghai.

Itamar holds a MA in Design Practice from Northumbria University (Newcastle, UK), for which he received a Distinction Award for his thesis Creating Innovative Design Software Solutions within Collaborative/Distributed Design Environments.

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