Merle Hall, KD’s CEO, shares the inspiration behind XXEquals.

When I moved consultancies to KD over a decade ago, I moved from strategic branding to product design, from a company which was evenly represented across gender, to a business of over 40, with  1 female in the delivery team.  There were many great things about KD and over time I got more used to seeing hardly any women around me during the working day, but it never became comfortable.  

So when in a position to, we promoted change, equality and new values. Our management team is now 50/50 and our broader team is now over 40% female, in an industry, which according to the Design Council 2018 report has 5% female representation in consultancyHowever, we still need to do better, continue learning and working towards equality, diversity and inclusivity in our business and the industry as a whole.

In the last 5 years, we have supported and created opportunity through organisations such as Kerning the Gap, promoting equality in design leadership through mentoring and events tailored at developing skills needed to head up that leadership ladder, where most folk don’t look or sound like us. I know when I climbed it, I found it a daunting, unnerving and at times, lonely journey.    

As we have spent time getting our house at KD in order, creating culture to thrive and focusing on how we can improve the talent pipeline, a question remains. How can we create impactful design for women when they are so under-represented in the process 

Without expert female representation throughout the innovation and development process, opportunities will be missed to leverage empathetic design and create compelling brands and products which include women at every stage and close the gap between assumption and reality.  

And that, is why we created XXEquals, from a desire to offer our clients a credible alternative to the status quo and encourage other teams to search out greater equality in their own businesses 

We’d love to hear your thoughts and share more about our work, team and ambitions for XXEquals. Please drop me a line @

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