A desktop and mobile view of the Kaleidoscope app


The Challenge

As an organization that strives to embed inclusion and equity in our work, we recognize the importance of intersectionality in designing for these outcomes. Applying an intersectional lens to our work can help ensure that more people will benefit and less will be overlooked or harmed by the solutions we create, but intersectionality can feel overwhelming to consider in practice.  

The Outcome

Kaleidoscope is a digital tool to help anyone involved in creating products and services apply an intersectional lens to their work. It translates key concepts related to intersectionality into the context of research and design using accessible language and discussion prompts tailored to each phase of the design process.

“[Intersectionality is] not primarily about identity — it’s about how structures make certain identities the consequence of or vehicle for vulnerability. You have to look at the context …”

Kaleidoscope is an accessible and actionable way for businesses and organizations to deliver on the aspiration to create more inclusive and equitable experiences. It was informed by the decades of hard work from many who came before us and who continue this work today: Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw, Black feminists, women, and many others.

Throughout the process of creating this tool, we engaged with DEI experts, anthropologists, and people creating products and services within agencies, small- and large-scale organizations, and in complex domains like healthcare and social impact.

“Intersectionality helps ensure that fewer people are left behind and that our efforts to do better for some do not make things far worse for others. Intersectionality helps us stay true to our values of justice and equality by helping to keep our privilege from getting in our way. Intersectionality makes our systems more effective and more fair.”

Kaleidoscope provides unique value by structuring reflection on intersectionality and its related concepts in seven specific moments of the design process, guiding teams to
(1) Embrace the complexity of identities and consider them within context
(2) Examine context to uncover the factors and forces that affect people differently
(3) Identify who holds power and who is marginalized in a context, and
(4) Reflect on their own power in relation to the communities their solution will serve.

The kaleidoscope, with its dynamic patterns, represents the relationships between these concepts. What might at first feel overwhelming becomes clearer when you pause to look more closely.

Resource pages

By prioritizing the reflection necessary to take more informed actions, Kaleidoscope helps teams address the shortcomings of more traditional design thinking approaches (e.g., prioritizing speed, knowledge extraction, and reductive personas.) The structured reflections equip teams to operate with more intentionality, humility, and awareness of the complexities their solutions must account for. A more inclusive and equitable approach to creating products and services also includes challenging assumptions and biases and considering how deeply communities will be engaged throughout the process.

Kaleidoscope helps practitioners explore how all these factors affect the decisions they make, which will ultimately determine who a solution benefits and who it leaves behind.

“[Kaleidoscope’s] reflection questions
dissolve the tendency to go about [design] in a transactional way. But without a tool like this, it’s hard to think of these questions when [your project] is go go go.”

Kaleidoscope’s visual and interaction design was inspired by its namesake – evoking reflection, dynamic combinations, and a lens through which you view the world. The vivid color palette, playful shapes, and cheerful animations were designed to reflect the vibrancy and diversity of identities. Juxtaposed against a dark background, they mimic the illumination, patterns, and movement within a kaleidoscope. The visual language was crafted to be engaging and uplifting – a counterbalance to what can feel like a daunting topic to consider.

Kaleidoscope’s prompts are also available in Miro and FigJam canvases, and as Google Slides, enabling teams to bring the conversation and its outputs into their existing workflows and tools.

kaleidoscope collaboration canvas

“If we aren’t intersectional, some of us, the most vulnerable, are going to fall through the cracks.”

While prioritizing reflection on identity, context, and power requires us to slow down a bit, we believe doing so is essential. It leads to more meaningful and innovative solutions that have greater viability in the market, and it’s necessary if businesses want to ensure their solutions won’t unintentionally cause exclusion, inequities, or harm. With the challenges our society faces today, and the rise of AI and automation, it’s more important than ever for organizations to bring an intersectional lens to their work, including an awareness of how their inherent power and privilege affect the solutions they put out into the world.

Kaleidoscope is designed to be broadly applicable across many different industries – from health, finance, and consumer goods to transportation and civic services. With thousands of products and services being launched or updated every year, there’s immense potential for positive impact when applying an intersectional lens in order to shape more inclusive and equitable experiences.