We’re still battling through one of the most destructive and surreal moments that many of us will experience in our lifetimes. If you listen closely, you can start to hear whispers of hope, with a painful and slow return to some form of normality on the horizon.
The true fall-out will not be felt or appreciated for some time. As we start to review and look back at what has unfolded, large groups of the community will feel as though they’ve been let down.
Before the crisis, we conducted an inclusivity survey in 2019 – via YouGov – which found that 67% of all people polled had experienced a problem which led them to not understand the messages they were being told. I would argue that if we ran this same study again in the current climate, the figure would have increased.
It has never been more critical to share information clearly and transparently.
Inclusive communication means every customer-facing output is available and accessible to every user, in the format they need and on the platform they want.
And that’s regardless of ability or disability, language, age or location. Companies need to be honest with themselves when they assess and test the extent to which they are achieving this objective.
The arguments behind having a strategy around diversity and inclusivity have long been voiced. And from a business performance perspective, it’s easy to understand why. “Companies with the most ethnically diverse executive teams are 33% more likely to outperform their peers on profitability” – this comes from a report by McKinsey & Company and is packed full of many more compelling stats and benefits.
If you consider that Google released its first diversity report in 2014, you quickly realise that in the grand scheme of things, we have made some progress over the last seven years. However, these strategies, approaches and objectives need to go beyond an organisation’s recruitment policy and transcend to the wider audiences they engage with.
People, customers and suppliers should also form an important part of your strategy. How companies communicate with their clients and prospective customers more effectively is the catalyst behind making a real positive difference.
It is too easy to ignore the 13.9 million disabled people in the UK. This research, conducted by Scope a few years ago also showed that nearly half the population don’t know a disabled person. It helps to demonstrate the extent to which people are still being excluded from society.
I worry about those individuals who have had to change the way they’ve engaged with companies as a result of the pandemic. Many have been forced to use new digital tools and been prevented from utilising their proven and trusted ways of making contact. The ensuing lockdown unearthed gaps in the user experience and highlighted accessibility issues that for too long will have been ignored.
It shouldn’t have taken COVID-19 to raise these challenges though. But perhaps now they’re out in the open for everyone to see and hear, it will encourage appreciation and understanding that drastic improvements need to be made.
The fact is that companies are also missing out by choosing not to communicate effectively with this segment of their audience.
Over 82% of disabled customers will spend their money, not necessarily on the website that offers the cheapest products, but where fewest barriers to entry are placed in their way.
If you’d like to understand more about how we can break down these communication hurdles, then please get in touch.