Championing women in design

About UP

What’s UP?

UP is a new initiative created by the West of England Design Forum that’s dedicated to empowering and supporting women, and driving better equality in design.

We know that not enough women are rising to the top despite making up the majority of graphic design students. But in the workplace, the problem can be hard to spot. The days of Mad Men levels of sexism and misogyny are long gone, but it’s not as simple as agencies simply choosing to pay women less or deciding not to hire them into senior roles. In fact, on paper, men and women appear to be given fairly equal opportunities.

It all started to make sense when we realised that giving everyone the ‘same’ opportunities doesn’t necessarily work in a world where everyone needs different conditions to thrive. We’re all a product of the society we’ve grown up in – a society where diverse biases feed our experiences and expectations.

With this thinking in mind, we’ve decided to focus less on the idea of treating everyone the same, and more on the idea of embracing difference. 

The UP Mission

UP isn’t just about climbing the career ladder. It’s about creating an ecosystem that helps us all to thrive, whatever our idea of success. So, we’ve decided to park the facts and figures and concluded that there should be no measure of success – other than for UP to be relevant in our industry today.

We want to celebrate and champion agencies and individuals that share our ambition for a more inclusive design industry; those that are doing great work in this area through flexible working policies, family friendly initiatives or their own brilliant and novel ideas. And for those that want to start improving how they do things, we’ll provide useful resources and valuable tools that help them become one of our success stories.


Isn’t it time we gave shared parental leave some more thought, and work out how to make it more feasible, practically and financially? Realistically, all employees could take parental leave at some point in their career, so this is an issue that will affect everyone in the workplace.


Effective mentoring of your team is essential. Like most things in life, what you put in, you get out. By finding good mentors for your team, you’ll be able to support their ambitions, build their confidence, encourage them to fully explore their role and progress.


Flexible working brings a better work life balance for everyone. Whether juggling family, working on side projects or pursuing a passion, if people are given the opportunity to work the hours that fit their circumstances, they’re likely to become more focused and productive at work.


Diversity benefits design studios everywhere. We want to encourage creativity when it comes to L&D and empower people to step out of their comfort zone when thinking about employee training. Designers might want to dip their toe in more strategic waters and similarly, account managers might love the opportunity to unleash their creativity. By giving people the chance to tailor their training, we avoid one-size-fits-all thinking and end up with an enriched and informed culture as well as creative output.

Talk to us
This is a growing, evolving initiative and needs fresh thinking and ideas to flourish. Get in touch and let us know what you think – share your case studies, tell us about great people doing good things and most importantly, get involved!

Action changes attitude faster than attitude changes action.

Adam Ferrier, Psychologist


This is at the heart of our mission – credit where credit’s due. We want to celebrate successes, share brilliance and champion ingenuity at every level. Create regular time in your team meetings, start an internal recognition scheme and tell the world about the great people you work with. Get in touch if you’d like to create your own regional version of UP, or to blow your own or agency trumpet in one of our case studies.