Diversity & Inclusion @ Adobe Max


It was my third year attending Adobe Max (a creative conference sponsored by Adobe). This year Max came back to LA, and graciously my new employer paid for my trip. It's always an insightful conference, and it's energizing to be around other creatives who speak your same nerdy design language. As a professional creative who has been practicing corporate design for over 12 years, it's helpful to network and commiserate with other designers who travel from all over the world to attend Max. This year's attendee count topped out at over 15k people. 

Thankfully, Max learned from their past experience in LA and improved the conference experience overall. Attendees seemed much happier, give or take a few minor blips. But I'm not here to talk about the bus-gate incident of 2018, or even the #AdobeMaxHoodie giveaway, I'm here to discuss the elephant in the room.

Adobe Max has an issue with diversity. 

As a creative of color it is disappointing to scroll through the speaker page year after year and not see speakers who look like me. I struggle every year choosing sessions. Of course I want to see design legends like Paula Scher and Stefan Sagmeister, but I also want to support those few creatives who tick the D&I box. This year, I consciously chose to see queer speakers during Day One (Lisa Congdon, AdamJK and Bobby Berk). And while I recognize that this is an improvement from the 2018 lineup, it's still disheartening to realize that they were all cis and white. 

I'd like to acknowledge that a few of the keynote speakers were people of color this year; however, the majority of creative sessions were given by white folks. Adobe Max, I implore you to hire more speakers of color. They’re out there, they’re talented! Please refer to Maurice Cherry’s podcast Revision Path if you need ideas, because the lack of diversity is getting ridiculous. Also, let's not forget about differently-abled speakers too, visibility matters. 

And to the cis/het/white Adobe Max speakers, if you want to be an ally please read up on inclusion riders. Grace at DesignSponge wrote an amazing article about how to stand up for inclusion here: Accessible Design

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