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Clifton Simmons at UX Camp Fall Home Edition 2020 (Video)

“Du” Good: How UXers Can Help Change Our Companies & Communities

Clifton Simmons presented “Du Good: How UXers Can Help Change Our Companies & Communities” at UX Camp Fall 2020. Enjoy!

As UX practitioners we pride ourselves on human-centered design, but do we really practice what we preach when statistics continually reflect a staggering lack of diversity? Even in a pandemic, studies show industry leaders predict an increased demand for UX design professionals.

You’ve protested. You’ve made public statements to do better. Now you’re probably asking, “What now?” Learn how companies can start to fulfill their promises to create a more diverse UX design workforce. Corporate volunteerism is also a way for companies to empower employees to continue the fight against systemic racism by enabling your UX staff to support community organizations in need of our digital skills. As an example, this talk will include work as a skills-based volunteer for the DuSable Museum of African American history and how we collaborated with museum staff to develop the digital marketing campaign, “this is What We Du.”

Clifton Simmons

Sr. UX Content Strategist, Allstate

Clifton is a senior content strategist for Allstate, focusing on claims and roadside service. He’s dedicated to inspiring a diverse generation of UX design professionals, working as a mentor and instructor in various programs. Prior to his work on UX design, Clifton has worked at large ad agencies as an experiential marketer for USAA, Chevy, Coke and McDonald’s.

​​​The following transcript very likely contains typographical errors. Please forgive any mistakes!

Alright, thank you very much, and I wanna welcome you on to do good how you extras can change our companies and communities. So in click Simmons, and I’m a cocking Strategist at Allstate, and I specialize in UX design for roadside services and also claims. So as UX professionals, we all know the importance of putting a job in scope, so what I don’t wanna do is if levels at this conversation with the short story, and the short story is called The Star Thomas, one of my favorites and… Dog me, if you heard it. ’cause I’m also telling a condensed version of this story, so it starts off with a boy, it is walking on the beach after a storm pass, and he sees hundreds of starfish washed up on the shore, and the boy panics because he knows the star fish could die so he starts throwing them back into the water, the times aren’t working against them, but it keeps working, keeps and it keeps growing the fish back in, but it’s a constant struggle, but what happens is an old man, he sees them and He sees what the boy is doing and he says, You can’t save them all.

Why bother? What does it matter? In the boy, he picks up another start, finish, and he says, Well, it matters to this one, let me throws back into the seat. So I tell you the story because we only have 30 minutes together, and basically that’s not enough time to solve systemic racism. So what I’m talking about here is committing to a small part, a small part of something worthy that can attribute to a bigger picture over all. So I’ll be sharing some things that we can learn specifically as you as professionals, and that can hopefully affect some changes in our community, our company, and most importantly in ourselves. So this is about what’s next… What happens right after the protest marches or right after your company, does this do better statement that they post on social media? Now, this is about going the distance, covering a lot of small… Doing a lot of small steps where we’re gonna cover a lot of ground, and you’ve heard this statement before, this isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. This is one of those Well-defining moments. And so what do I talk about is, are a few things that some of us can probably start with tomorrow, and I ask the first question is, what have you implemented so far? And that cross out the word executed on purpose because in this content, it could probably mean it in a literal sense.

What I’m asking is, have you ever created a DNA program and somehow it got ignored and just left behind somewhere, unfortunately, that’s the faith of a lot of DMI programs at companies that frankly, just one bill for speed. So what I’m basically asking from each and every one of us is to grab his old files, let’s blow the dust off of them, and let’s bring them back, and that can kind of give ourselves this as a starting point of the documents that you already have rather than just starting over. So as US professionals, we are the practitioners of human-centered design, but I wanna ask you that question then, is it really true if we choose to remain in our comfort zones rather than engage in everything that’s happening in this big wide world, it’s… When we step out of those comfort zones, that’s where you discover where the magic is, and that’s where the magic happens, this is where everything connects, and this is where essentially we start saving the starfish or sets, and we do it in a way that only electors can… So this afternoon, what I want to do is look at everything around us, and what I wanna do is put all of our worlds together and show how to interact and from that how we can do things that are meaningful to others, and some of those things that I go over or be like a skill-based volunteerism, finding great diverse talent and mentoring and growing…

That’s a talent. I’m sorry that they don’t sound like these earth-shattering tactics designed to bring about a global change, but the thing is we can’t view all these things from the lens of a lifetime movie where we peacefully protest in the streets, the next thing you know we’re high-fiving each other and how at the end of the day, ’cause we just made the world a better place tomorrow, but what I will say is that you will create moments or someone’s gonna say to you, You changed my life. You gave me a chance when no one else would. But these are the places that I’m talking about where we can initiate personal change, so I wanna start with a look at ourselves in it and in our workplace, maybe you were someone who protested and maybe your company was somebody who crafted some kind of public statement on how we’re gonna do better? And initiate changes, maybe you made those pharmacist yourself, you saw everything was happening, you felt these things in your heart and say to yourself, I really want to be in a position so I can start to make a difference. But now a lot of the protests and everything, they’re not feeling the new cycles anymore, and so now we’re probably asking ourselves What’s next and maybe let me ask you just one particular question, how has your company been one of those…

Who did post one of those promises somewhere, and you have it in some place where not only can you look at it yourself and be reminded of it, but also to where you can hold them and yourselves accountable to the promises that you’ve made. But one of the things I really love is a statement on the right side by Stephanie Nadi also, she’s the founder of this marketing consultants, the company called We are rosy, and in it she says, I hope of the CMOS making these promises about diversity and inclusion, realize that the long-term remote work is a secret weapon for them now, the fact that people are home has made it easy, and I enable people to gather by the millions in protects. Unfortunately, real life does set in and it doesn’t allow us to react this passionately, every time there’s something that we feel strongly about, we have to deal with the fact that real life is set in, so maybe you are working from home and maybe you’re trying to educate your child at the same time, pandemic, life is just handed us a whole new juggling act that we have to deal with, something…

The next thing I wanna say is to our employers, if your staff is saying Black lives matter, this is something that matters to me, and you’ve made a public statement to step up, then the next move is actually by empowering your employees, you continue to do that also because you’re giving them the ability to feel on commences and things that they’ve made to themselves, you’ve also enabled yourself to take that first step to fulfilling your corporate promise. And with that, if we don’t… And I start to fall short. Problems on a rise. And this is one thing I wanna bring up. Why people leave? In this survey that was taken by Human Resources dot com in 2019, and this was long before a lot of the civil unrest, people were asking if they wanna have a job at where they do something meaningful, and they wanna be a part of a corporate culture that allows them to actually do it and embrace it, and if they don’t find it, it’s one of the reasons why many of them will leave that job behind, so what I wanna do is kind of like put this whole thing on its head, and instead of looking at reasons why people leave, let’s give them reasons to lead.

I found personal satisfaction in doing things like skill-based volunteerism, and if you’re asking what that is, it’s basically when someone has a specific skill in a company, they’re permitted to go work at a non-profit for a specific amount of time on certain… On a certain project or more companies are using these programs and some are… Ashley have made it part of their leadership training programs. A state actually offers a program like this, and it’s called POSSE fellows, and I tried to volunteer with sepals at least every summer, now it’s something that I have to work out with my management, because with the basic ask here is that I work one day a week, at that patio, a non-profit for a three-month period to work on a specific project… Now, the non-profit that you work for is not basically like the non-profit of our choice, it’s more so that it’s a non-profit that is asking for your specific skill set, in fact, they would have something where it basically says, I have a need for somebody with you, US skills. So there is a UX factor in all of these assignments, and when I talk about the opportunity to do the spelling with du, that’s not a misspelled, I’m actually referring to is the work my co-worker and Natasha and I did for the disease, um of African-American history in Chicago, we were asked to help them develop a digital marketing program.

Now, over here, you can see us iterating with a lot of the staff, we introduced them to various exercises like Rosebud in include ring, and that was basically to kind of help us keep the project in scope and determine what the deliverables would be. The campaign we created is called, This is what we did, and what I was designed to do is showcase elements of the Anticommunist, I create this overall picture that the disciple is not your typical museum and a place of learning. And with that campaign, What made a success as successful and what made the staff embrace it so much was the fact that in all the exercises that we were doing, the staff got to see the proposal that we gave them, reflected their concerns, leading now and saying, where they’ll also were the corporation, we’re gonna show you how to do things, so we spent, I would say the first month of our actual time together, and you utilize that, get know everybody and seeing what the real issues are, as we have to show them how to produce content with a skeleton crew and even a smaller budget, what I want…

So you here are some of the examples of some of the test projects that we work with, one is called dance, and the other one is a virtual curator, so might jump to this and show this right now A

I. Maharashtrian soldiers of the fighting casus infantry during the gold-worthy were the most decorated regiment that fought along Europe’s western front, then they return home to fight for every day from

Now. As a result, we tie, showed them these pieces on Gentoo idea of what we want to do… I’m not gonna lie to you. The museum hated dance to keep it cheap. We look for stock footage and what they saw was something that they felt was kind of predictable, but they did see the possibilities and the fact that we only produce this piece for under 20… On the other hand too, they love virtual curator is what we’re trying to do here is create an app feature where we had somebody, a people as a guy through the museum displays, no initial job after we introduced all of this material is the fact that we have to package all this material for them so they could learn how to do everything they needed to do longer we were done. And the last image that you see on the right is some of the influences that we left behind with virtual curator because they are currently working on one right now, because mesas closed during the pandemic. For that year, in 2018, the contribute reported that revenue Rose 31% that particular when other museums were flat, and we’d like to believe that the information that we’ve provided to them actually play the hand in all of that, so we were very happy with some of the results.

Now, I wanna say some quick notes about doing a successful program when the Conseil based upon tar-ism, you don’t go into a non-profit telling them what to do, that’s the quickest way to get the card up and deal with things like implicit bias. I was kind of guilty of that myself, when we pull up the images of the dance to promote the app, didn’t know if there’s any kind of cultural references or anything like that, it just looked like it might have been appropriate, and that’s probably why they act… Is pretty generic. And one of the key things too is just remembering that you’re a volunteer, so when you’re there, you have to be learning to be… Volatile, what’s needed from you. And also too, one thing that when you get you in profit in situations, you’re gonna see that to come a need a lot more from their initial ask, it’s gonna be a situation where you’re gonna see other issues and you’re gonna wanna save them from everything that you see, that’s going on. But my point is, is don’t be a hero, you can’t save everybody from every thing sticking to the one assignment, staying in scope is actually a big help when you accomplish that one, it’s better than trying to embrace a bunch of other issues and you may not even get them all completed by the time you’re past your time there is over Selmer months then believe me those three months went pretty fast.

Now, hopefully this is kind of like triggering your heads and make it much something that you might be kind of interested in doing now, if you are interested in setting up a skill base of volunteer program, there are plenty of organizations that are willing to help introduce you to a bunch of non-profits that can help you set this up, and I’ll be happy to share these things to… And Slack later. And I just wanted to also to jump into a quick word about fulfilling promises about finding talent as U researchers, we can probably put a bunch of interviews, a bunch of charges, a lot of information, all saying that we need to do better. But the one issue that I really want to address is I wanna hear people saying that we can’t find diverse UX talent, and my first answer in my first reaction to that is, nobody’s hiding. I think the main issue is that you just need to expand where you may be looking, and so we have a lot of ex-professionals that I have meant with that are evolving from a lot of positions, in many cases are advertising. I myself came from an advertising background before I made the transition, so a lot of my resources here are gonna be some people who are gonna be happy to make those introductions to you, you’ll see that a lot of them have an advertising-based to them, but I don’t want that, just say, from their abilities to introduce you to qualify candidates, and I’ve limited my list basically to a lot of places that I volunteered or have been involved with myself.

First off is me and What make is it as for the Multicultural Advertising Internship Program? It was founded by the four as back in 1973. You can see this little picture of me when I was a little maker back in 1991, and I had my first internship, but since then, I’ve kind of been a mentor for the last 10 years working with other make students. And what I’m happy to say is there is a growing number of students that are now part of the 3500 alumni that have graduated from this program, and that brings me into one person in particular, this is uh… An LAMA who I had the pleasure of mentoring this past summer, what was great was that she… My first UX mentee, the bad part was that happened during this pandemic, and that canceled her internship, but the gaveston incentive to try to make this program work a little harder for her and making it a little bit more meaningful. She’s now working at a fellowship at my own ad agency as a UX designer, but I sangeetha portfolio address at the foot, the page, she’s a very counted designer who is looking for a spot somewhere.

Next step is Lincoln Stevens, who launched the Marcus gram project back in 2007. Now, he took the name from the Eddy Murphy character, thein, the movie Boomer. Now, I’ve watched Lincoln, I take this professional network and just turned it into this amazing cohort agency program, do call it the Saturday we see, and this past summer, they were actually working on various programs for, I think some of the clients included Apple. Now, in an effort to kind of like Save internships and tooth and then she’s like hours, Amanda, Kenny factor latched the Smart program to 100 roses from country. And Kenny is building this bigger pool of talent for a lot of us to tap into to look for more diverse professionals, he says that’s based like his overall goal, and now both Lincoln and Kenny are doing numerous events, and if you haven’t come across an event where they are in a featured speaker, I think that’s pretty much a call to action that says, We all need to cast a bigger net looking for talent. She designs is actually a US design program that fits geared towards women, it offers teaching and mentorship experiences where the students there get to work with actual clients, and I’ve been pleased to have the opportunity to work with a few students there.

Vallance was recently launched to create a database that kind of addresses the lack of diversity for students that are… I’m sorry, the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley and various other tech positions, I kinda show you like this interface for a particular reason for UX appreciation, he has… The people here have developed this interface that it’s like so intricate and so pretty to watch, you might get a little distracted just going through this, but for you even actually look for the talent that’s here on the database, on the dashboard, the CEO guy premise, we go way back in Wigan, the way back to grade school. We grew up on the same street, and this is kind of by showing the promise that happens when two kids play a tartan television after school, all our sorghum the day. So when you are looking for a professional, one thing I wanna say is gonna be realistic about your expectations on experience, you’ll find candidates who may have the work experience, but they may not have you lift in their China or on their resumes, and I’ve seen recent food camp brands with 10 years of customer cerence, that brings a unique insight and a lot of the work that that they do, and they come across as almost like highly trained UX researchers, so it’s one of those things too, where I costed to be aware of your bias when you’re looking for people to fill various positions, because the talent may not always be there, be obvious in the titles that you see, and that find brings me to one more story, and this one is about bias.

In the last 100 roses meeting that he attended, if somebody told me to actually view bias and diversity and inclusion with the cake analogy, he explained it this way, he said biases is when you want cake only done one certain way, you follow directions and you only do it exactly the way it’s written, but when someone takes a slice bias, kind of use it as a way as you’re taking away something from me and now I have something less to work with, a true diversity and inclusion is actually inviting people from different backgrounds, and If I tend part of the whole cake baking or experience because you’re encouraging, they have to bring a… Theresia in credits, their own way of doing things and bringing their own own ingredients to the mix, and what you end up with is basically something that’s bigger and better and enough for everybody. Now, I’m not sure if that was really profound or not, or I was just really hungry and I thought it was cool when he was saying it, but it was something that I felt that I wanted to share with everybody else, because the note behind that is, if you’re gonna stick with the same old recipe, your own favorite is gonna be that it’s just gonna get hold…

I wanna leave you with this, whatever programs that you choose to go forward with, you… Are you gonna get it right the first time? Probably not you, but remember, were you exert were the masters of iteration, and I’m asking you, who can’t say We can’t… Iterate change in the world that we’re in right now. We learn, we do some research, and we start to make plans, and then we start to build on those plans and we put them out there and we see what happens, and the whole thing is we repeat the process so we can kind of iterate our way to actually do it, something better. And I believe that if you stay in scope, you will create opportunities for people that will matter, so you will actually start to save the starfish. And with that, I think I slap some time for questions, and I wanna say, hopefully just doing us some good. And I encourage you to go out there and do some good. This is where you can find me. And it’s been great talking to you all. Thank you very much, AO.

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