Building upon our commitment to improve diverse representation and create an equitable playing field for those within our company and the industry as a whole, Levi Strauss & Co. has joined the newly formed Diversity in Design (DID) Collaborative.
As a founding member of the DID Collaborative, we are coming together with other prominent companies to create and foster systemic change by increasing design career opportunities for Black youth through the building of industry awareness, knowledge and connections that will form an educational pipeline leading to full-time employment. DID members will work together to bolster design awareness and education at the middle school, high school and college levels with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), community colleges, higher-learning programs and nonprofit organizations that serve Black youth.
“We are so excited to holistically grow and positively impact diverse talent in these industries and very much look forward to welcoming fresh young and creative talent into our company,” said Elizabeth A. Morrison, LS&Co.’s Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer. “We authentically want to reflect our fans and the communities where we live and work and know that with a truly diverse workforce we will take our products, business and culture to new and exciting heights.”
Currently, 12% of the U.S. labor force identifies as Black, while less than 5% of designers employed on a full-time basis identify as Black. The average Black student enrollment at design colleges and universities in the U.S. is less than 10%, and fewer than 10 of the more than 100 HBCUs offer a design degree.
The purpose of the group’s work is to align Black students with DID Collaborative initiatives to foster their educational journey, first with internships and apprenticeships and later part-time and full-time employment in the design field, ultimately creating a truly diverse field with an output of more inclusive solutions. Key to this will be a focus on ways to support professional development, retention and culture-building.
Investing in this type of diverse pipeline is critical to LS&Co.’s overall DE&I efforts and our future success. As we see it, cultivating the unique skills, perspectives, styles and backgrounds of diverse talent will enable us as a company to continue establishing unique and authentic connections with consumers and creates an environment where talent comes to thrive.
“We have a clear opportunity and responsibility to build relationships with underrepresented creative communities — both to foster young talent and to broaden and enrich our own design perspectives,” said Karyn Hillman, senior vice president and chief product officer. “Designers and creatives thrive in environments where all identities, experiences and ideas are embraced. These are essential ingredients for inclusive, relevant design.”
To learn more about the DID, visit www.diversityindesign.com.