Let’s face it: it’s tough to deliver thoughtful, resonant diversity program materials within the workplace.
The reason it’s so difficult to harness ‘diversity’ as a visual concept is that the word itself is merely a positive spin on its root, difference, which is both the heart of the problem, and the soul of the solution. People are asked to learn to engage with each other as rich individuals, without prejudice, bias or stereotype. So, how can there be just one image—literal or metaphorical—that captures the ethos and the end goal of these initiatives?
I suppose it doesn’t have to be that complicated. There’s an incredible amount of tragicomic stock photography featuring improbable groupings of the right balance of race, gender, ability, and identity…
Hydro One has long dedicated significant resources and attention to improving the diversity of their workforce. For the past several years, we have worked with their People and Culture and Diversity Committee teams to develop creative and meaningful concepts and design for their annual employee calendars. The calendars are unique, in that they feature a cross-section of cultural, spiritual, national, and political dates of significance and are distributed to all employees across their Ontario operations.
The functional design of a calendar allows you to tell a story that evolves each month—and you can’t beat the shelf life.
Each year, we engage in an intensive creative ideation session with our client partners to develop the strategic priorities to be captured within the employee calendar. The brief that results is complex and very challenging. Each calendar design concept must support and advance key corporate goals around the diversity portfolio, and well, look great.
This year’s calendar design shows the rich potential of diverse elements working together. The cover design is stark white, with a row of seven distinct geometric shapes, each in a different colour.
The layout for each month’s spread shows two of the shapes interacting on the page to create vibrant and extraordinary patterns, demonstrating the concept that when diverse people, ideas or experiences come together and collaborate, new potential is realized.
Each month also features a quote from an employee on the value of diversity within the company, both as a corporate value and as an opportunity to evolve the business and achieve defined strategic goals.
The concept for the 2015 employee calendar sought to unify the One Company corporate value with the vast operational territory Hydro One serves. With transmission and distribution operations covering Ontario as far north as Pickle Lake, sharing a common outlook and approach to the way the company works is no easy task.
The monthly spreads feature photography of the unique geographies that define the province, from urban streetscapes to the landscapes of Ontario’s far north. The company’s One Company core value was translated into the 13 most-common tongues in Ontario, and the translations were paired with unique designs evocative of astronomical maps to convey the message that in order to truly share the core value, employees need to venture outside of their own environment and experience to consider the perspectives of others. This awareness of and interest in learning from different people with points of view is significant to observing the core value.
As people, we tend to want to ‘sort’ people, and in doing so, we make an enormous amount of assumptions, and miss opportunities to truly understand the value of each other’s insight, experience, and perspective.
The 2014 calendar message was that there’s a great deal more to an individual than their professional role, their appearance, their age, and their apparent abilities. Rather than request the participation of ‘diversity models’, we worked with our client partners to connect with employees across the Hydro One landscape who were willing to share a surprising and interesting part of their life and background. The results were phenomenal.
Pairing black and white photography of each employee with bold macro photographs of ethnic textiles, each month featured a different employee sharing a bit of themselves. One technician was a hobbyist app developer, a lawyer was a member of an Ontario first nation, and an engineer was a music producer in his spare time.