Jessica Bantom: How to Be a Culturally Competent Design Activist & Why You Want to Be One (Part 1)
Today With Jessica Bantom:
Today on A Well-Designed Business I am joined Jessica Bantom, interior designer, DEIB practitioner, and author of Design for Identity: How to Design Authentically for a Diverse World. This is the first part of a conversation about how to become a culturally competent designer.
In this episode, part one of a two-part series, Jessica explains cultural competence is the ability to understand, interact with, and appreciate people of different backgrounds or belief systems that are different from your own. But she explains that it essentially comes down to making space for conversations.
Pick It Apart
[5:54] LuAnn and Jessica talk about the goals of Jessica’s new book, Design for Identity: How to Design Authentically for a Diverse World
[11:59] Jessica explains why she uses the term “identity” instead of culture, in order to speak more broadly about differences across multiple dimensions—including race and ethnicity but also age, religion, sexual orientation, and body size.
[18:32] Jessica and LuAnn discuss unconscious bias.
[21:46] Jessica and LuAnn examine the way different people are able (or unable) to share their experiences and why that is.
[35:45] LuAnn clarifies with Jessica that the message in her book is that, as designers, we need to make space for these conversations.
[39:35] Jessica explains that designers should not be making assumptions or interpreting someone else’s identity.
LuAnn Nigara and Jessica Bantom’s Ah-Ha Moments
“Cultural competence is the ability to understand, interact with, and appreciate people of different backgrounds or belief systems that are different from your own. And what that essentially boils down to is just really making space to understand and appreciate that there are different experiences that people have based on different aspects of their identity. And it’s all about being open-minded to what those are, and accepting that there are other realities.” – Jessica Bantom
“We may be in the same room looking at the same thing, but we are going to experience and we are going to process it differently.” – Jessica Bantom
“Instead of telling somebody that’s baseless, we have to be willing to ask and understand how it happens that way, and why those feelings are there.” – LuAnn Nigara
“ ‘It is the duty of the interior designer to have awareness and sensitivity in going about their design for all of the communities that they designed for.’” – LuAnn Nigara quoting from the book Design for Identity: How to Design Authentically for a Diverse World by Jessica Bantom
“As designers it’s not on us to interpret somebody’s culture or identity. It is on us to open the door for the conversation—to receive the information, to process it, to do what we do as designers with that new information. But it’s not on us to come up with our interpretation of somebody’s identity.” – Jessica Bantom
More About Jessica Bantom
Jessica Bantom is a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging (DEIB) practitioner and workplace strategist whose goals are to help organizations develop customized strategies for transformational change and to enable individuals to take immediate action to become more inclusive. Author of Design for Identity: How to Design Authentically for a Diverse World (coming in April 2023), she is a skilled management consultant with over 20 years of experience, a compelling speaker, and a certified facilitator and coach with a passion for helping people and organizations activate the values of DEIB to become more culturally competent and thrive in our increasingly global economy.
Jessica is a proud alum of the University of Virginia where she earned her undergraduate degree and Marymount University where she earned her Masters. She is certified as an Associate Diversity Coach through the CoachDiversity Institute’s Executive Certification in Diversity Coaching program in collaboration with the Howard University School of Business and holds a certificate in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University. In addition, she is a Certified Change Management Professional (CCMP), Prosci Certified Change Practitioner, and Change Management Advanced Practitioner (CMAP) with a specialization in Design Thinking and Innovation from Darden Executive Education at the University of Virginia.
Jessica is also active in the interior design industry as an interior design and color consultant and as an engaged advocate committed to promoting DEIB in the industry and in practice. She describes herself as a multidisciplinary designer of human-centered solutions and uses her specialization in design thinking to develop and apply innovative approaches that transcend industries. A proud member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, she’s a long-time resident of the Washington DC area, although she will always call Philadelphia home.
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