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DBA Members’ Forum | July Summary

In our July Members’ Forum, we explored the topic of sustainability in design, where the responsibility lies and what this should look like for our sector. Here’s a summary of the conversation.

  • An individual’s impact on cutting carbon emissions is tiny, but designers can have the most impact in cutting down on the impact of work they create.
  • Controversially, it was suggested that working with the a ‘big bad polluter’ where a 10% improvement could have a significant impact overall, might be worth considering. Supplier screening and boundaries were suggested.
  • The B-Corp Impact Assessment is a good place to start to help measure, manage, and improve positive impact performance for environment, communities, customers, suppliers, employees, and shareholders, and the B-Corp movement is appropriate for large and small businesses alike, but requires a resource commitment.
  • With great power comes great responsibility and the responsibility for sustainability needs to come from clients and agencies working together for the benefit of everyone they design for. An interesting report was mentioned here from Accenture on making sustainability more human. 
  • Designers have the capacity to imagine the future. Changes in corporate behaviour/output can have a big impact, so as a designer guiding corporations to the most sustainable solution is key. 
  • Get educated – if we’re privileged enough not to be at the sharp end of the effects of climate change (and most in the West are – so far) then we need to take responsibility and build ESG positively into all our work as designers – clients need designers to answer the brief sustainably whether it’s asked for or not.
  • Short-form courses were suggested. Bringing expert consultants in was another suggestion. Hiring in the expertise as part of your team was spoken of as being very successful for one member.
  • Change attitudes – essential but a challenge, especially in large corporations where cost-based decisions drive agendas. It was agreed “make sustainability an everyday discussion” – critical to moving the dial. 
  • One member shared how their team is driving this agenda within their business, creating a better place to work for everyone.
  • One member spoke about a salary sacrifice scheme for employees on electric vehicles, and another has previously mentioned to me an additional day’s holiday added to either end of summer holidays for staff who chose “slow travel” (less polluting) travel options.
  • Tough legislation is coming – don’t wait for that to hit – let’s get to the point where design is also sustainable – don’t just do things better, do better things (from another inspiring member).

There was much more covered in the hour – these are just a few notes to provide a flavour of the conversation. Do make sure you join us in our next DBA Members’ Forum when we’re going to be talking about AI in design.

It will be taking place online on Tuesday 8 August at 4pm BST as the Monday is a Bank Holiday in Scotland. If you would like to attend, get in touch here


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