Canva And The Power Of Diversity In Design

Canva And The Power Of Diversity In Design

B&T’s inaugural Women Leading Tech Awards, presented by Google, is now less than three months away (you can get your tickets here). To celebrate, we are profiling some of the industry’s brightest leaders to give you a taste of the conversations and stories you might hear on the day.

First up, we have Canva’s head of performance marketing Bernise Alviar.

Alviar has previously worked as a marketer at HSBC and Uber and has seen technology transform the advertising industry. But she has now taken this experience and is using it to help grow one of Australia’s most exciting technology platforms.

With the goal of making design tools that are easy to use and accessible, Canva has grown from an idea into a $US3.2bn company in a little over seven years.

And as Alviar points out, this evolution couldn’t have happened without a diversity-led approach to design.

“We have over 20 million monthly active users from all over the world, all with different backgrounds and unique design needs,” she tells B&T.

“So from a product perspective, we’re constantly striving to empathise with all the different types of Canva users and provide design templates and tools which cater to their needs.

“For example – we have design templates created with different religious and cultural holidays in mind – Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, Dia Del Muertos.”

If you go onto Canva’s website, you will find the company’s list of mission statements. At the top of this list is “being a force for good”.

Alviar explains that diversity and inclusion take a lead role when it comes to making this mission a reality.

“Design used to be difficult and quite inaccessible to the everyday person. Before Canva, you’d have to go through professionals to create a design, or you’d have to learn complex software to DIY,” she says.

“Hence the whole reason Canva was built in the first place was to enable design to be more inclusive and accessible to more people from different backgrounds.

“As individuals and as a company, we are constantly trying to not only make logically good business decisions, but also decisions that are good for our users and broader global community.”

Diverse teams = creative concepts

There is a focus within Canva on seeking a wide range of opinions to ensure the best results on any given project.

“We know that proactively welcoming a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds is key to ensuring everyone feels valued and motivated to build the best product for our equally diverse community,” says Alviar.

“One example is our meeting culture. We’re really mindful about running open and transparent meetings – ie. recognising that having the right people in the room is more important than their title and tenure.”

This approached is matched by Canva providing training for everyone actively involved in the recruitment process, says Alviar.

When asked how this approach has manifested into real-world outcomes, Alviar points to Canva’s recent Christmas campaign in the Philippines.

“We have a really talented team based in Manila. They’ve created ads for countries all over the world but never before for their own home country of the Philippines,” she says.

“However, this Christmas – the Canva Manila team developed their very first national brand campaign for Christmas called ‘Canva Pasko’ (Pasko meaning Christmas in Tagalog) where we encouraged the public to design festive greetings on Canva for a chance to see it displayed in a huge digital billboard along one of Manila’s most traffic-congested highways.

“The successful execution and ideation of this campaign truly required local insight and knowledge and is a great example of diversity fuelling one of our most innovative campaigns yet.”

The inaugural Women Leading Tech event will take place on 8 April 2020 at Linseed House, The Grounds of Alexandria, 7a/2 Huntley St, Alexandria.

The categories for the awards are:

  • Entrepreneur/Founder
  • Executive Leader
  • Product
  • Engineering
  • Data Science
  • Design
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Mentor
  • Advocacy

Nominations close on February 5 and late entries on February 12.

Find out more here.



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