We just wrapped up print & digital design work for We Dream In Black (WDIB), a program started by the National Domestic Workers Alliance. As new data emerges on the vulnerable conditions facing black domestic workers in the South, We Dream In Black, in partnership with the Institute of Policy Studies, has emerged with Pay, Professionalism, & Respect: Black Domestic Workers Continue the Call for Standards in the Care Industry, a policy document that delves into this data. With text in hand, WDIB came to us to design the document in a way that would both highlight the seriousness of the topic while also making it inviting and accessible.

This two-volume report highlights the ways in which the historical legacy of slavery has engendered an unstable working environment for black domestic workers in the South. Pay, Professionalism, & Respect defines domestic work within this context, and also highlights the experiences of various domestic workers, from their perspective, in both Atlanta, Georgia and Durham, North Carolina.

In our design process, we worked with their team to identify five key design themes:

  • Empowerment
  • Professionalizing
  • Unapologetically Black
  • Comfort & Care
  • Community

It was important for us to ground these themes in a style that would both reflect and appeal to their core audiences: domestic workers, grassroots organizers, and policymakers. Ultimately, we moved away from the traditional style of policy papers. Instead, our decision to work with an editorial magazine format offered an elevated sense of professionalism, as well as a more approachable connection with the reader.

 

Our challenge was to build a design system that effectively supported text-heavy content while still bringing human experiences to life on paper. We built out a design style that was both professional and incorporated the boldness of their message—largely in our focus on clean, flexible typography. We complemented personal narratives with confronting portraits of the different workers featured, which helped to engage the reader in a more direct dialogue. We also illustrated all the facts and figures within the report, making the findings more digestible for readers.

Ultimately, we wanted Pay, Professionalism, & Respect to feel like an immersion, rather than a mere report—familiarizing readers with human experience of domestic workers, while also presenting important data on workplace conditions and policy recommendations that drive the mission of We Dream in Black. All in a visually compelling way, of course. The results:

 

Once complete, we translated this design into a website where readers can access both reports, as well as read up on We Dream in Black’s general initiative. See it here: wedreaminblack.org.