Patriotic flags, dazzling fireworks, mouth-watering BBQs, and scraping rainbow decals off of storefront windows—July is here!
With pride month coming to an end, organizations have returned their pride flags to the back of the closet—no pun intended—to gather dust until next June. Does this sound like your organization?
Many companies show their support of LGBTQ+ communities during pride month, but what happens after June? When the flag wave of support ends and people return to “business as usual”? Despite good intentions, LGBTQ+ individuals are left feeling like the rainbow logos and sparkling pride parade performances were simply that—performative.
It’s time to face the uncomfortable truth that you can, and should, be doing more. This doesn’t mean putting more resources towards charitable donations (though if you’re looking to donate—The Trevor Project, It Gets Better, HRC & Trans Lifeline), but rather investing in meeting the needs of consumers from all walks of life.
This is one of the best investments you can make. That’s right, these initiatives aren’t just “fluff”, there’s a strong business case for prioritizing DE&I (diversity, equity, and inclusion) in your organization. There’s a reason racially diverse executive teams provided an advantage of 35% higher EBIT and 33% more long-term value creation over the least racially diverse companies.
Why Do We Celebrate Pride?
Pride, which began as a protest, is a time to raise awareness and show support for underserved communities. Though a lot of progress has been made in recent years, we don’t live in an equal world. We exist in a diverse society with people from different backgrounds, races, genders, and sexualities—all with their own unique needs. And this diversity is what makes the world so incredible. The diverse range of opinions and perspectives drives innovation, creativity, and growth.
Take a good look at the people in your organization and in your leadership positions. Do they reflect the same diversity of perspectives as your customers? The more diverse the perspectives of the people in your organization, the more customers you’ll be able to reach and the easier it will be to demonstrate empathy.
Success Comes from Diversity of Perspective
It’s important that your products and services foster safety and belonging for all communities and reflect the diversity of those they serve. When designing your products or services, how do you ensure you’re doing so with the biggest possible audience in mind?
Consumer feedback and listening are crucial components of product innovation, and industry leaders, like Twitter, have found ways to bring the voices of diverse consumers into their business to ensure they’re meeting the needs of as many people as possible.
Nikkia Reveillac, Head of Research, Twitter
“There is a lot of conversation around how to do this well. As you can imagine, there is thought going into everything from who we go after with research to how we recruit and retain people who work at the company. It’s an all encompassing and comprehensive approach to diversity and inclusion. It starts with making sure the people in the building represent the people we serve.
We’re building communities that have marginalized people to make sure that in addition to the research we do, we can tap into this community to ask “how are we doing? Does this solution/feature work for you?” as early and often as possible."
Excerpt from Alida Activate “Female Tech Leaders in VoC” Panel
Brand Values Matter Most to Today’s Consumers
Today’s consumers are more empowered and informed than ever before. With the commoditization of products and services, buyers are much more selective about where they spend their dollars. Consumers, especially younger generations, place increased priority on the values of a brand when it comes to making purchase decisions.
According to a recent survey from ATTN, 81% of respondents take a brand’s purpose into consideration when purchasing, compared to just 64% for product quality and price.
Consumers are paying more attention to what you stand for and who you support. In the past, staying “impartial” may have been the safe approach, but brands are now being held to a higher standard. You can no longer afford to stay silent, because not saying anything is saying a lot—and everyone is listening.
What Can You Do?
While this all may seem daunting, taking the first step can be simple. Here are three steps you can take today to start making positive improvements towards reaching a broader, more diverse audience.
1. Understand that DE&I is not a destination but a journey
What if I'm not doing enough? What if I get it wrong the first time? These are fair questions to have. It’s okay to not know. It’s okay to keep learning. But it’s not okay to do nothing. You will probably not get it right the first time, but by putting in the effort to take steps in the right direction, you are demonstrating to your current and future customers that their unique needs and challenges are important to you. And over time, you will work to find a solution—together.
2. Start today, even if you don’t have it right yet
Don’t wait until June of next year to start bringing a diverse range of perspectives to your decision making processes. Every passing day leaves you farther behind your competition. It can feel overwhelming at first, but by taking small steps every day, you’ll be able to accomplish great things in no time.
3. Invest in listening to your customers from diverse backgrounds and communities
Technology has made it possible for businesses to recruit customers and consumers from underserved communities to listen to them and learn more about their needs, thoughts, and priorities. Many organizations have implemented digital insight communities with diverse customer perspectives that not only give them a clear picture of how to serve the needs of their diverse customers, but also to help them see, overtime, how their efforts have moved the needle. Consumers want to help you help them. Make them a part of the process.
4. TAKE ACTION
Listening to customers without taking action can lead to a net negative. If customers are taking the time to provide feedback, you need to ensure that they’re aware of the impact their feedback has. As you look to bring customer feedback mechanisms into your business processes, ensure you’re also including a way to close the loop with customers and share back the positive improvements you’ve made from their feedback. Whether it’s highlighting a new feature added or an improvement to an existing product, show your customers that their feedback made a difference.
Why Prioritize DE&I?
It’s not about just putting up a pride flag. It’s about ensuring you’re bringing a diverse range of perspectives to the table. It’s not the appearance of diversity, but the power of having multiple perspectives that allows diverse companies to attain 19% higher revenue.
There are many ways to bring diverse perspectives into your business. You can improve your hiring processes to ensure your staff reflect diverse communities, or you can bring the voice of diverse customers into the decision process with customer feedback tools—ideally, a combination of both. Once you’ve brought diverse perspectives into decision making, you’ll soon realize the opportunities are organization-wide. Product innovation, customer experience, brand positioning, marketing and advertising campaigns, the potential for impact and improvement is endless.
So as pride month ends, and businesses wash the rainbow from their logos, returning to brand as usual, you can be the change maker—the innovator. Start bringing more diverse perspectives into your organization. Do it because it’s good for your business, or because it’s good for your customers, or because it’s good for the world.
Whatever the reason, it’s the actions you take that matter.
And the fact that you started today.