This is an ongoing effort so dig in and get ready to prove design's worth at every opportunity you get. Unfortunately, "make things look pretty" is a phrase that minimizes the real strategy that goes into design. Great, inclusive design makes companies more money so find out where you can affect the bottom line and make a difference.
At the end of the day, that's why you are there. To help the company be more successful. Embrace that side of the job to elevate perceptions of design's scope of problem solving.
1. Solve real problems
Team up with your company's sales team and do some real design work. Sales and marketing need design translated to fit their goals. People's actual jobs depend on it. Think about sales and marketing as the lifelines of the company. Helping them solve challenges via design principles extends the longevity of the company.
2. Understand business objectives
Make the company's business objectives, your objectives. The next time your company says it needs to increase advertising, dig in and do some research on how you can help. DO NOT complain about the business objectives. Research why your company is going in a certain direction and apply design principles where you can.
3. Bring the team with you
Bring junior level designers to strategy meetings. This makes a huge impact on leadership around the company as it shows them you value the goals of the company so much that you ensure your design team understands them as well. Bonus: younger designers will grow twice as fast if they can insert business objectives into their work
4. Do. Don't review
Stop talking about design and just make it. Repeat: Stop talking about the solution, start designing it. Use tools like Invision, Framer or Principle and show exactly what you mean by creating interactive prototypes to share. High fidelity mockups are the key to winning over leadership. Create examples so real, they want them as the solution.
5. Share your work
Create opportunities to share what you think are solid solutions. Is there an internal sales or strategy meeting? Has there been an CEO AMA that can be solved via design? Use these key moments to jump in and place a well-thought-out design solution. It may not be selected, but it shows the value of design in the conversation.