People who experience racial discrimination at work live with constant anxiety and are forced to behave cautiously in an environment where they are meant to be pursuing their passion. Racial discrimination is a complex and nuanced issue that has no simple solution. Once an incident begins, it tends to escalate and many are often unclear when the line has been crossed. Employees today still face racial discrimination in many forms creating a hostile working environment.
We seek to create an app that would allow for quick documentation of every incident that happens. Employees can then choose to create a comprehensive report that would make for a stronger case against their perpetrator. WorkSafe is there to help employees feel safer at work by providing them a tool where they can record evidence of discriminatory situations to create a comprehensive report to have if they choose to pursue action. We guide our users to resources, counselors, and organizations that deal specifically with racial discrimination.
Research Phase 1
My partner (Nicole Kim) and I started with initial research to learn more about what was already provided in the world. We conducted research on diversity training within companies to learn more about its function.
We learned that the purpose of diversity training was to provide employees with concrete ways to engage in respectful and positive interactions in the workplace while reducing discrimination and prejudice.
We then looked into anti-discrimination laws in the workplace that outlaws discrimination of race, color, nationality, sex, religion, and disability in any aspect of employment, from hiring to firing. They include Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC) laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and The Equal Pay Act of 1963. Breaking these laws will result in legal consequences that could lead to fees, prosecution, and reputational damage. Not only does discrimination goes against legality, but discrimination at the workplace can also lead to reduced productivity of the victim, team, and the company as a whole
Research Phase 2
In the second phase of research, we focused on the reporting process and the support that companies provide. Through our research, we found out that it was crucial to keep detailed records of each incident that happened in order to conduct an investigation.
Pain Point: It is important to keep quality evidence and accurate records that help with ‘memory error’ as memory fades over time.
We learned that the reason people hesitate to report the misconduct is the fear of reporting. Employees worry that there will be retaliation from the employer, reputational damage, and even losing a promotion or job. There is often a need for human interaction that helps with interpretation and guides for action.
Pain Point: Therefore, it is important to ease the fear of reporting by not only minimizing the fear of consequences but also, providing humane support that guides throughout the process of reporting.
Research Phase 3
We then looked into how one-to-one counseling can support employees when faced with discrimination at their workplace. Counseling could help to speak of the incidents and emotions without a filter. It can help clarify and interpret situations that are in the grey area and analyze the situation to provide guidance for the next steps. Overall, Counseling provides emotional support to employees, so they feel cared for while facing these difficult situations.
Meet our Users
Interviews were crucial to our project. As stated before this issue is complex, everyone’s experiences are different. We needed to gather diverse perspectives in order to understand the underlying issues we needed to solve. So we gathered 4 people of different ethnicities, occupations, and gender to learn about their experiences with racial discrimination in the workplace.
We split our questions into 3 categories:
- Diversity training to understand what companies were currently doing.
- Discrimination experiences to understand our user’s experiences.
- Company resources to understand what companies were doing and if their employers knew about company resources.
We were able to identify the major pain points and insights from our interview and research. The 4 major insights include the following:
- Most racial discrimination situation that happens at the workplace is in the form of indirect discrimination and microaggressions.
- When faced with discrimination, most Interviewees knew to go to HR; however, they were NOT informed about a reporting system within the workplace.
- Interviewees hesitated to speak out or report because they were unsure of the discrimination at the moment.
- Interviewees would NOT talk about the misconducts within their workplace in fear of retaliation from their employers.
Our Target User
Taking from the insights we gathered from our interviews we created Sarah M. our target user. We focused on Sarah’s pain points and needs to guide us through this project.
After gathering all our insights from research and interviews, we generated a How Might We question.
Ideate and Sketch
With a clear problem identified, we dived straight into ideation. We wanted to develop an application that was easily accessible to working individuals. Taking information from our research and insights, we wanted to include these two concepts.
- The first concept is a tracking and reporting function that helps employees keep records of incidents that happen, generate a comprehensive report, and provide resources for pursuing further action.
- The second concept is the counseling and resource function where employees can find professional one-to-one counseling, open group chat for group support, and other resources.
Narrowing Down a Solution
Through this process, we narrowed down the ideas to focus on the must-haves that are supported by our research and insights.
From our research, we have found that it is important to record incidents in detail for them to serve as tools for investigation. It is vital to record these incidents as soon as the discrimination is identified so that it is the most accurate and clear from your memory. We wanted the app to be easily accessible for users to quickly pull out their phones to record incidents that happen to them.
The comprehensive report will provide the users with an organized overview of the reports, so they can send it to an external organization with ease if they choose to pursue action. From our insights, we have learned that they were hesitant to take action within their workplace. It is vital for those employees that are hesitant to speak out to feel more comfortable with the process by receiving help from external organizations.
From our research, We have found that one-to-one counseling can have numerous positive effects on individuals that are going through difficult situations. From our interviews, we synthesized that most people did not want to talk to people within the workplace due to fear of retaliation and reputational damage. They are also unsure if discrimination even occurred. One-to-one counseling will provide human interaction and interpretation that help these employees identify and clarify problems and emotions. The emotional support and guidance on the next steps will ease the fear of reporting. There will also be resources provided with organizations to contact for further resources for reporting and this external support will ease the fear of retaliation of the employer and the company. We found that it is vital for users to receive humane care and guidance throughout their process of reporting.
With that in mind, we created a low fidelity paper prototype to test out our ideas on users.
- Record / Create an Incident
- Organize the Incidents into a Folder
- Generate a Report with Specific Incidents
- View and Share the Report with a Counselor
- Talk with the Counselor
Taking our paper prototype we began our first round of user testing with 5 users.
We found that overall the layout of the app was easy to understand and navigate through. However many users found the organizing folders feature to be hard to follow and it was difficult for them to clearly identify when the app had begun generating a report.
Most of the issues involved the organization of folders and the question of how intuitive is the process of organizing individual reports in a folder.
When asked to add the report to a folder, all users hesitated while performing the task and asked questions in order to complete the task. All users did not find the slide function for edits to be intuitive. Most users found the selection of a folder and an individual report to generate a report confusing as it was difficult to differentiate between the folders and individual files. There were also problems with the repetitive appearance of the generate report button that distracted the users in performing the tasks to generate a report.
In response to the issues with adding individual incidents to a folder, we decided to make the action more intuitive by
- Adding the drag and drop function for an organization.
- We also added the 3 dots more icons for clarity to where to find the edit and delete icons.
- The view inside the folder was redesigned for clarity as well.
- We added a select all button for a faster route to choose all incidents at once.
- We labeled the bottom icons for clarity since some of the icons were not universal.
User Test 2
After edits, we went into the second round of user testing.
In this round, we discovered more specific feature issues such as the report overview being unclear, or the navigation icons on top not making much sense.
We wanted users to visualize the data taken from specific incidents and generated into the report to understand trends and correlations.
The problems that were identified from the second round of user testing include the readability of the graphs, misplacement of navigational buttons and features.
Before taking our edits into a high-fidelity prototype we quickly laid out a style guide to help keep our visual design cohesive.
We stuck with lighter blue colors to keep a professional tone throughout the app.
Then with our style guide, we prototyped a hi-fidelity mockup.
- Users go through an onboarding process explaining the goals of the app.
- Then users can quickly record an incident inputting evidence, date, time, location, perpetrator/witnesses, and further details.
- Once created users can then drag incidents into folders or delete incidents to help keep things organized.
- When ready, users can then generate a report choosing specific incidents or all incidents.
- A report will then be generated showing first an overview of data on how often incidents happen and where they have been occurring before going into specifics.
- When ready, users can share the report with a counselor or organization or view their own profile.
Readable visual data is important for users to understand correlations.
We prioritized the 3 graphs that we decided were the most important. The followings are
- The line graph of the # of incidents within a timeframe
- The bar graph of # of incidents at a time of the day
- The pie graph of who was involved the most
We also differentiated the folders and incidents visually, so they are easily identified from each other.
Lastly, we added the pop-up slide in-between the generate report button and selection of reports to divide the sections and give users options to start generating the overview report.
Our app will allow victims of racial discrimination to upload information and evidence of what they experienced at work whenever they feel it is necessary. Organizing each incident helps our users keep track of everything they experienced. The action does not need to be immediate but once a user is ready they can generate a concise report of all evidence they need to create a strong case against their perpetrator. The employee will have a documented history of their experience which we can then guide them to organizations and counselors there specifically to help support users with the next steps.
To be continued…
As stated before racial discrimination is a complex and nuanced issue that has no simple solution. Our product is only one small part of a larger fight for workplace equality. Even within just recording and reporting an incident there are many opportunities for us to further explore.
- How can we have our app be more directly connected to the company?
- How can the app record and report for someone who has witnessed racial discrimination?
- How can the app include a reporting system that is more than just a bridge to help you report?
- More research on resources related to workplace discrimination
Thank you for reading!