What lies ahead for Inclusivity in 2022? As we set the pace for 2022, we asked our team at Centre for Inclusive Design to forecast the challenges and opportunities for the year ahead. Here are their predictions:
Michelle – Inclusive employee experiences.
Remote work and recruitment have levelled the playing field for many people who have been disadvantaged, discriminated against, or excluded by the traditional nine-to-five office working system. These include working parents, expecting parents, carers, people with disability, people of colour, people who are transitioning, people with physical/mental health conditions or going through difficult stages of their lives. As multidimensional humans navigating new ways of working and living, 2021 has shown us how having flexibility, choice and control benefits everyone. We all need our workplace to work for us in different ways. In 2022, there will be a continued shift in language and mindset about ‘special’ workplace arrangements, ‘accommodations’ and ‘adjustments’. The organisation’s that care and take action to overhaul archaic workplace policies, systems and strategies will win the talent with truly inclusive employee experiences which go beyond pay and perks.
Eloise – Stepping into an Inclusive future
In 2022, designers will create inclusive products without even knowing it, actively championing diverse user needs and focusing on the individual. Two years ago, there was a shift in companies’ designs as they leant on human-centred methodologies, finding success in accessible products meeting a user’s individual needs. Everlasting design trends, which have emerged from the pandemic, have favoured ‘comfort in uncomfortable times’. No better product exemplifies this momentum than the unsuspecting Croc. In 2021, Crocs grew 67 percent in revenue. I expect we’ll see a continuing shift towards functional designs challenging the boundaries of what’s fashionable, as showcased by Croc’s recent success.Brands such as Nike created accessible designs like the ‘FlyEase’, a slip-on shoe marketed towards comfort and ease of use. I believe these designs challenge standardised ideals of fashion and as a result invite a broader market, including user’s experiencing mobility disabilities.
Gabriela – Digital improvements
I believe, since working from home has become the new normal, accessibility and usability will have more attention and will help to improve digital products or services during 2022.
Scott – Gaming industry shakeup
This year I believe will be the year the video game industry truly embraces diversity. Despite being the largest entertainment in the world, the gaming industry is plagued with constant issues with sexual harassment, poor outputs which marginalise different communities and unfair working conditions. With the continued gamer pressure, along with games like The Last of Us II showing everyone how to do accessibility properly, Ghost of Tsushima embracing an all-Asian cast, and Xbox having a leadership with 50 percent women in roles, I hope we are on the precipice of the gaming industry taking on inclusion wholeheartedly.
Jack – Equality and inclusion
They say you should never let a pandemic go to waste. Over the last two years, we’ve seen vulnerable people bearing a disproportionate share of the costs of COVID-19. In areas where we should be seeing greater equity and inclusion, the unequal effects of the pandemic are reverberating along existing fault lines and creating new ones. I hope in 2022, we see a greater emphasis of Inclusion for vulnerable people. If an organisation is looking to initiate a project, I hope they consider and consult vulnerable people. If it isn’t working, then I hope we see quick action and appropriate changes to support the vulnerable.
Leila – Digital ownership
The internet historically has been a space actively focused on being interconnected and an open source. However, the concept of digital ownership has increasingly become an elusive strategy to monetise and privatise digital spaces and information. Examples of technologies being developed to create digital ownership range from NFTs to big-tech companies racing to claim control of the ‘metaverse’.
I anticipate that over this coming year, there will be a growing push-back against the idea of ownership on the internet. For us working in the inclusive design space, we will need to work to address how the privatisation of the internet will impact accessibility. We can start by asking some basic questions; who does digital ownership benefit? Who does it exclude? How does it exclude? What will be lost or made difficult to do? What are the barriers to entry?
Claire – Equality for all
Last year was a painful year of reckoning over appalling incidents in the workplace and the beginning of conversations challenging the treatment of women. While gender inequality has felt like a recurring issue, often forgotten in the perpetual news cycle, last year, something was different. The structural silencing culture that women have tolerated for years was called out; loud and clear. We’ve come a long way and with some encouragement, finally acknowledged gender equality is not a ‘women’s issue’, but rather a human issue. I hope this momentum will continue throughout the year, and we’ll see an end to ‘sweeping it under the rug’. I predict 2022 will do more than pass the Bechdel test; it will be an action-packed megahit with a female cast and a killer plotline.