Throwback – Designing for inclusion across diversity of gender, religion, language, education by Swar Raisinghani

A talk condensed into vital points

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Helena Trampe

14/11/2023; 4 min read Loud!

On the importance of reflecting, adapting, and slowing down to increase inclusion in all processes.

During our DEI and Design Masterclass, Ms. Swar Raisinghani, Co-Founder of Indian based Xeno Co-lab, presented the vitality of designing for inclusion across the diversity of gender, religion, language, access and location. Emphasizing that we can become the catalyst for inclusion, by reducing unintentional exclusion in our research and design processes.

Diversity Factors – layers and nuances

Using diversity factors when selecting a sample audience for demographic testing, is common practice among most companies. However, it is not common for companies to consider the implications of the diversity factors and their different components. Especially the layers and nuances that go beyond age, gender, race and religion.

The diversity nuances, such as accessibility, awareness, language, and cultural norms are repeatedly excluded in research and design processes. Resulting in an unintended social divide.  

Diversity factors are relevant as they combine and overlap to define an individual’s experience and perspective. The discovery is complex, and may not be scalable in record time, but the incorporation will produce sustainable results.   

Throughout Ms. Swar Raisinghani’s DEI talk, she uses her company’s experience and projects to explain and inspire on how one can successfully incorporate DEI in company methods. Illuminating how different layers of diversity impacts user access and experience -and how revision of practices can narrow the gap of DEI.

Gender culture – cultivating combined diversity factors

The digital binary gender-divide is great, especially in rural India. More men have access to digital sources compared to women. Which automatically leads to a difference in digital confidence, awareness and behavior. Researchers and designers must be aware of gender-based autonomy in the physical reality of their target market, in order to translate optimally onto the digital platform.  Understanding the systematic and cultural context of gender of the targeted sector increases intentional equity, inclusion and can ultimately define the success of the intended product and/or service.

Swar at work. From

Explaining Access – a diversity nuance

For instance, Ms. Swar Raisinghani, explains how access does not just mean the physical access to a service or product, but also the feasible access of understanding the relevance and the usability of the service or product, for the targeted user.

In a project for an Indian Microfinance institution, Xeno co-Lab’s objective was to create a communication and engagement strategy. Specifically, how to connect with rural female customers through digital channels. Participants, in this research study, were all micro entrepreneurs in rural areas and were smartphone owners. Their smartphone interactions, however, varied drastically based on their exposure, education and awareness. The fact that they had physical access to a smartphone did not actually mean that they were smartphone users -beyond receiving and making phone calls. Elements of awareness and accessibility plays a role in how one might interact with a digital citizen -along with gender and language factors.

Inclusion – a slow movement

Inclusion is not just a plug-in or a box to check. It is a long-term integration into the work processes to create lasting value.  Constantly adapting the approach to include -by understanding and defining the targeted diversity and its equity through research and reflection.

Remembering to pause and question. What is working well, what is not working, and what can be modified to ensure that the product and/or service truly stays inclusive. Changing to tailor to each individual market, to increase equity and minimize alienation. In short:

Be intentional -Realize what needs to be fast and what needs to be slow. What is important and what is urgent. Because inclusion takes time, effort and intention.

Pause to reflect -What is optimal and what is not. Don’t be afraid to change direction.

Build for sustenance -Make every project count for the short and long term.

Realize the reality of the context in your work scope. Don’t be married to your process. Pause, question and challenge yourself and your team.  

Be intentional, be the catalyst of social change and prioritize inclusion by design.

Being so inspired by Swar Raisinghani’s talk, we asked for more and pleaded, if she had any additional points or vital lessons, links, or aspirations to share, for our reflection and practice.

Swar and her partner Nikhita giving a talk at Design Matters Mexico 23.

Watch Swar’s talk below. To watch more talks, subscribe to

Read India’s Inclusive Digital Revolution, written by Swar.

For frequent updates and inspiration from Swar Raisinghani, follow her work on Twitter @xenocolab.

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