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Implementing inclusion and equity design at Uber in 2022: Learnings and best practices

In the run-up to the UXDG conference – Merlien Institute’ newly launched online summit focusing on UX design – we are sitting down with some of our keynote speakers to talk about their view of the industry and their presentations. Recently we spoke with Erica Ellis, Head of Product Equity Design, Uber. Erica will talk about inclusive and equity design at UXDG2022.

UXDG: Erica, first of all it is a pleasure to have you on board our inaugural summit on design. What motivates you to join UXDG Design Summit and what are your expectations?

Erica: I’m motivated to join the speaker line up at UXDG to help further the conversation around inclusive and equitable design and help encourage everyone to do this work. Whether your company has a dedicated team or not, this is part of every single one of our jobs—it’s not a nice to have or bonus work—it is the work. It’s our job to ensure our customers, our users can access the products and services we bring to life and that we provide them with an equitable experience that returns equal outcomes to every single individual.

Erica Ellis, Uber talks about Equity design

UXDG: What role does company culture, inclusivity and equity play in equity design?

Erica: A company’s culture around inclusion and equity play an enormous role in equity design. Product equity and inclusive design are an evolution of the standard DEI human resources practices. If a company is failing internally, they’ll absolutely be failing externally. Equity design takes time, intention, and investment. If the company’s culture does not support and include a diversity of human experiences and identities, you won’t even be able to build a team to look at how systems of oppression and discrimination manifest in a product or service. And if you can, that team won’t last long because they won’t have the support they need to succeed.

The change that equity teams are trying to make push against centuries of systemic oppression. Because the issues we’re fighting are systemic, it takes a systemic approach to make any progress. This means that product equity and design teams, DEI human resource teams, policy team, legal teams, support teams, and so on, all need to work together toward the same goals to make a lasting impact.

UXDG: What is the core message of your talk and what would you like our delegates to remember?

Erica: The core message of my talk is that anyone can get equity work started in their design and product organizations. The beginning can be scary, ambiguous, and feel impossible, but it’s not! There are very tangible steps you can take to do the work in your every-single-day and work towards cultivating a larger, more impactful practice.

UXDG: What does design leadership mean to you and what role does design play in the strategy and business?

Erica: Leadership is anyone and everyone who pushes to make change in an organization. You don’t have to be a manager or at any specific level in your career to be a leader. I may be biased, but I think Designers, Researcher, Content Designers, etc. are natural leaders. We work directly with our customers and end-users and fight to create an experience, service, or product that will help alleviate some problem in their lives. Without Design, without the focus on the user, there cannot be a successful business.

UXDG: Where is UX & Product Design headed? How does the future of the discipline look like?

Erica: The future of UX and Product Design is inclusive. We will not succeed at our jobs or as businesses without the ability to expand who we’re designing for and ensure we are not allowing space for harm within our platforms or services. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), and people with disabilities, are the global majority. It’s time we design specifically for their needs, their goals—it’s just good business

UXDG: Erica, thank you very much, we look forward to hearing more from you at UXDG this September!


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Join UXDG online on September 7&8. Speakers include representatives from Google, Netflix, Microsoft, SAP, Volvo, Dropbox, Lyft, Shopify, Logitech, BP, Kimberly Clark, Verizon and many more. For more details visit https://www.uxdgsummit.com/.


Recommended reading:

A journey to understand the needs of disabled customers

12 crucial tips to designing smartphone qualitative that gets great insight

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Jens Cornelissen

Jens Cornelissen has been writing for over two decades – initially for general newspapers in his home country Germany. After receiving an MA degree in Communications, he joined a new media start-up in Amsterdam as consultant on new media technologies and country editor for two daily newsletters. In his current day job, Jens runs the global conference division for Merlien’s dedicated marketing research events. Jens is a trained journalist with a BA in Journalism from Westminster University in London and has authored several media industry reports and articles on mobile and media technology.

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