The two of us founders (Jahan and Boyuan) met as editors of a now defunct music and culture magazine called BRM in 2010, and the rest is now history. Many ventures later, ranging from our Brooklyn based 6-week workshop series called The Inkblot (helping creative practitioners bring their work into the real world and out of their heads), an online magazine of the same name that profiled over 100 artist entrepreneurs from around the world (with a readership over 150 countries), as well as providing high-level strategy and program design consulting services to the public and private sectors since 2014, we codified all of the successful processes from our many experiences as storytellers, behavioral science nerds, facilitators, program designers and strategists and developed Design for Diversity™.
We asked, “what systems did we employ that led to diverse, inclusive and equitable outcomes? Which ones didn’t?”
During every initiative and client experience, our eyes were keen to notice who and what were missing from the design. Whether it was a women’s program that failed to account for which women are typically excluded (e.g. WOC, immigrant, low income women), or a campaign targeting Black men without anyone representing that identity writing the copy or making key decisions, we meticulously mapped out the various holes in the design process where blind spots and biases can easily seep into the end product. There were so many. We studied this against the dozens of recent public corporate failings. There were even more of these. Yiiikes!
We tested and studied, studied and tested, with lots of feedback in between.
We interviewed heads of diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI) at Fortune 500 companies, product designers, industrial designers, product managers, content teams, executive leadership, etc to find out where our framework could be applicable as not just a way of mitigating diversity, inclusion and equity related issues, but also to provide a powerful tool to create better design. By better design, we mean sustainable, consistent with market demand, equitable in process, and financially viable.
Design for Diversity™ is now being adopted by cross-functional and leadership teams across various industries. We are the new Design Thinking. If you’re just learning about us, you’ll soon be adopting this framework to help improve your work!
Boyuan Gao - Co-founder | Principal
In the past 15 years, Boyuan's work has spanned organizations impacting youth development, juvenile justice, HIV/AIDS, homelessness, environmental justice, music journalism, digital media, technology, women's entrepreneurship, and more. Her professional experience has spanned the roles of founder, editor-in-chief, marketer, community organizer, coach, content creator, and entrepreneur. All of this has primed her to dedicate her life to breaking cultural and racial silos.
Boyuan’s sweet spot is developing strategy and processes to successfully build and execute new digital and IRL initiatives, including several inaugural programs for women entrepreneurs, impacting thousands of women across the country. She is an executive producer and creator of Fit the Description, a docu-series exploring the nuances of race and identity. Boyuan has launched and operated several online publications highlighting underrepresented communities, reaching audiences in over 100 countries.
Jahan Mantin - Co-founder | Principal
Spanning over 15 years experience in strategy, sales, facilitation and writing/editing, Jahan began a career in publishing as an Account Manager for Time Out New York before moving on to the editorial side as the Associate Editor for Beyond Race magazine. Prior to Project Inkblot, Jahan co-founded an arts and social impact online publication managing a team of 15 contributors where she produced, edited and/or wrote over 100 articles/multimedia content interviewing social entrepreneurs with a global impact including Boushra Almutawakel, the first woman Yemeni photographer, and author and food activist, Bryant Terry.
Jahan is also the co-creator/executive producer of Fit the Description, a video interview series between Black male civilians and Black male officers sharing their personal experiences with, and within, law enforcement. Using strategy, empathy and design principles, Jahan co-designed and co-facilitated an accompanying interactive workshop to engage audiences in conversations around identity, leading events at spaces from Neuehouse to Fordham University.
Jahan earned a B.A. in Communications and Culture from Clark University and is the recipient of the Kate Spade and Company Fellowship at the New Museum Incubator, NEW INC. An avid traveler, Jahan has lived in far-reaching locales from Colombia to Scotland. She is a proud native New Yorker and currently resides in Brooklyn.