Being a Canadian-Pakistani Designer at Dropbox enables me to tap into this superpower: I can put myself in another’s shoes and identify their needs. I can show up, be creative, remain practical and be a problem-solver. At Dropbox Design, I’m not a diversity hire and I don’t have to play a certain part. I can lean on my diverse team and get valuable perspectives on how to approach a design solution. I don’t have to ask to be heard, I'm encouraged to take the lead. I am uplifted by cross-functional partners, given credit, and even celebrated when I forget to advocate for myself, something that is not common in this industry. I can provide safe spaces for my partners to give feedback and know Design Leadership is present with an open ear. There is immense power in seeing ourselves not as independent units, but as one part of a bigger thriving collective, all learning and interdependent on each other.
At our San Francisco Dropbox Studio, a mural asks,* “What creates a sense of belonging at work for you?”* As a practicing Muslim BIPOC in the field of Design; I feel a sense of belonging knowing I can show up unequivocally as myself at work. I am proud to work at Dropbox, a company even my father recognizes, where I get to build things that help millions of people get their work done. Belonging is created when my manager wishes me ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ during the holy month and asks how he can support me while fasting. It’s inherent in the fact that I’m not an afterthought, like when I was offered stellar Halal food options at our Design Summit in Austin, Texas. It’s felt in the representation I see in my Design Manager, Director, and our Brand Director, three extremely accomplished women of colour who inspire me to aim higher. These things matter. They don’t go unseen. They are the sparks that catch fire and burn down the old limitations telling us we can’t.
Maya Angelou famously said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Almost every human at Dropbox Design and beyond solidifies the feeling I have an important voice.