Why you should focus on inclusivity
In today’s day and age, your audience wants to identify with your content across platforms. They want to see themselves reflected in your communication. More importantly, this reflection can’t be restricted to the occasional social media post. Audiences are paying close attention and are noticing how inclusive you are of genders, beliefs, geographical locations, ages, and more. In fact, 52% of adults who are online customers review a company’s values before making a purchase decision.
This means that your audience wants you to not only understand and accept diverse opinions, thoughts, personalities, choices, etc., but also create communication that reflects this understanding.
As a result, several companies have begun to focus on diversity and inclusivity in their work culture and marketing. It is a continual learning process and isn’t just a trend that will fade away. In today’s dynamic world, inclusive marketing has the potential to become synonymous with your identity.
How to achieve inclusivity?
1. Know your audience
Research your audience. Use this data to understand representation and identify the pain points or issues of non-inclusivity that they may be facing. The best way to bring about meaningful change is to truly put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Keep updating your data sets to ensure that it reflects this nuanced insight.
2. Be intentional and gradual
Don’t practise inclusivity because it is just another box to check. Ensure that your teams are being intentional and conscious in their inclusivity efforts. The biggest hurdles can be stereotyping and appropriation, so make sure that your workforce is well educated about the complexities of inclusion before you issue any outward-facing communication. Half knowledge is dangerous and can do you more harm than good, even if your intentions are noble.
3. Start with inclusive hiring
Portraying inclusivity but not practising it is a grave mistake that you don’t want to commit. It has to be a top-down, company-wide approach. So, first things first, ensure that your hiring practices are inclusive, and not just because that’s what’s expected of you. Diverse perspectives and insights will help you make sure that all your inclusion efforts don’t fall under the spectrum of performative allyship and are in fact truly geared towards making a meaningful change.
4. Accessibility and inclusion go hand in hand
An aspect of inclusion that is often overlooked is facilitating accessibility for people with varied abilities. This starts with something as basic as your website. Did you know that 83% of people restrict their shopping needs to sites that they know are accessible? So, here are a few things that you can do to make your website more inclusive.
- Include alt-text in images
- Include subtitles in videos
- Add descriptive names to your links
- Be mindful of the color palettes and contrast that you use
- Provide an option to change the font size and/or language
- Be keyboard and voice search friendly
Ensure forms are suitable for everyone
5. Follow accessibility legislations and guidelines
Laws across the globe are constituted in a manner such that no person is treated unfairly, and that everyone receives equal opportunity. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) states minimum standards that all businesses globally should abide by. In addition to this, every country has a set of its own rules and regulations. Some examples are:
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (USA)
- The Equality Act of 2010 (UK)
- Article 16 of the Constitution of India (India)
- The European Accessibility Act (Europe)
The most important thing to keep in mind is that if you’re interested in inclusivity solely for how it will make your business appear, it’s performative. When you focus on truly making a change in the industry and society that you operate within, the benefits of being inclusive, such as brand loyalty, will follow. Your audience is one step ahead of you and can spot a superficial, PR exercise from a mile away. So, invest in inclusivity for the right reasons, and not for self-serving ones.
As time passes, your approach to inclusivity will show that you care about your customers and that there’s room for everyone as far as you’re concerned. In turn, this will help a larger customer base identify with, and endorse, your brand. It will also help boost your bottom line as one study found. It said that 86% of users with special access needs are likely to spend more if their purchase experience is hassle-free. In fact, to incentivise inclusivity, Google and other search engines’ algorithms are likely to take this into account when determining rankings in the near future.
Making your business inclusive in the truest sense of the word is not easy. It demands time, resources and the willingness to constantly learn, unlearn and better yourself. But, as it stands to make the society you coexist in a better place, why not be a pioneer of change?