People everywhere are longing for belonging — and that includes the members of your customer or client base. However, you can’t ensure that everyone who encounters your brand and its representatives feels valued and welcomed until you expand your definition of inclusion.
Too often, inclusive corporate efforts focus squarely on race and gender. Yet true inclusivity means offering an open, safe, and supportive environment to anyone. By making sure all people have a comfortable, warm, and positive experience when dealing with your company, you’re making it easier for buyers to become loyal fans.
You may think that you’re already showering consumers with genuine appreciation, but you’re likely still missing opportunities to be more inclusive. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when trying to broaden your inclusion-related practices and initiatives.
1. Challenge yourself to find inclusivity gaps.
A great place to start on your journey toward comprehensive inclusivity is to look for any potential inclusivity gaps. You may be concentrating so hard on being inclusive in one way that you’re forgetting to be inclusive in another. After all, making sure everyone feels like they belong is a tall order. You have to consider many factors and put yourself in your customers’ or clients’ shoes to find solutions that fit their unique needs.
This process will take time, so give yourself the grace to move steadily without rushing. That’s what Chrystal Graves, founder of all-in-one salon management and coaching platform Liquid Hair Institute, has found. Graves strives to recognize the multifaceted nature of the entire human identity with her business so all consumers feel seen, valued, and cared for. It’s a big assignment, but she’s taken it step by step to ensure that she’s providing an inclusive experience — and she’s been gifted by seeing outstanding results.
“We want to revolutionize and be radically authentic in how we make inclusion look. It’s not just a word; it’s something that we embody every day in what we do,” Graves says. “This has manifested in ways of diverse product lines, diverse product offerings, and catering to a wide range of customer needs. That creates loyalty. When you satisfy a customer, especially when it’s from the end of something different, it leads to positive referrals and reviews.”
If you’re unsure how to find your gaps, consider all the ways inclusivity can manifest itself. Think about physical accessibility, cultural norms and nuances, preferred languages, and age-related concepts. Then, be honest with yourself. Is your company truly addressing the needs of everyone? Is there a place you could be more inclusive? You may be surprised by how many opportunities you’ve been missing.
2. Ask your customers and clients for feedback.
We all come from unique backgrounds, which is why it’s hard to automatically know what others need so they feel welcome. To get a more solid understanding of how to serve your target audience, ask them for their insights. You may want to send out an anonymous survey, or you could set up focus groups.
Getting objective, third-party viewpoints of how inclusive your brand appears to the outside world is invaluable. While you don’t have to act upon everything you learn, you should be ready to make changes. That way, your loyal customers and clients will know that you took their concerns seriously.
Want some inspiration for your evolutionary efforts based on the responses you receive? Look to a leader in inclusive thinking (and doing) like RingCentral. The company has launched numerous initiatives and programs to support its commitment to far-reaching inclusivity. As mentioned on the RingCentral blog, the brand has put a push on inclusive hiring practices and has added several employee resource groups.
Don’t worry if you find out that you’re less inclusive than you imagined. All companies have to start somewhere. Plus, by opening communication with your buyers, you’ll be improving future engagements and interactions.
3. Keep broadening your definition of what inclusion is.
Inclusion was once limited to someone’s racial heritage or assigned sex at birth. No longer. Today, it encompasses so many qualities and realities. And tomorrow, it will encompass even more as we move closer to understanding the idea of “belonging.”
Dr. Khaliq Siddiq chief medical officer at Clever Care Health Plan, explains how this approach might work in a healthcare setting in regard to what he calls “culturally sensitive care.”
“Culturally competent healthcare facilities provide care to patients with diverse values, beliefs, and behaviors and tailor services according to patients’ social, cultural, and linguistic needs,” Dr. Siddiq writes. “Cultural competency means acknowledging the importance of culture, recognizing the potential impact of differences, and incorporating cross-cultural services to better meet patients’ needs. Ultimately, embracing cultural competency is the key to reducing healthcare disparities.”
One method to cultivate cultural competence at your business is to talk about inclusion regularly with all your employees. Make it a common discussion point. You may even want to create a sort of digital inclusion “suggestion box.” There, employees can add their ideas for more inclusive practices or efforts based on what they’re seeing.
By having an “open door” attitude toward inclusivity, you’re setting yourself and your brand up for success. Be sure to check out what your competitors are doing, too. You may get some “Aha!” moments when you see how they are (or aren’t) being more inclusive.
Your customers and clients deserve to feel like they matter to your brand. Being holistically inclusive remains a wonderful way to show them that they truly belong.