What is the difference between workplace diversity and an inclusive workplace?
For starters, the idea of making your business diverse has been around for a while now, so much so that it is now a cultural mainstay. We have come to embrace the fact that the world is filled with diversity, and for companies to thrive, adding accurate representation in their employment pool is critical for sustained growth. However, diversity comes in many flavors, and some are still underrepresented. This is where we emphasize the importance for businesses to consider a cultural shift around accessibility and inclusion.
Seizing opportunities through inclusion and accessibility
With over 60 million people with disabilities in the US alone, many businesses are not only missing out on a market worth over half a trillion dollars, they’re overlooking the opportunity to strengthen their workplace culture by fostering inclusion.
Accessibility is the foundation to center product inception, content accessibility, event accessibility—heck, even your online website or store. Those values need to start on the inside. To put it in better terms, does your approach to accessibility and inclusion for your teams reflect what you want to present to the public? Are you considering the 26% of people who have some level of disability? Have you considered the Deaf, Blind, and hard-of-hearing communities? More importantly, can ALL your employees have equitable work experiences – from breakroom chats about the weekend to private conversations with HR.
Think about it.
Inclusion starts with creating representation across all types of users. Let’s start with some tips to consider when creating a business shift to accessibility:
What employers need to think about when creating accessible communications
- Consider adding captions to all internal videos and even adding sign language interpreters to convey your message in ASL (or the predominant sign language for your audience)
- If you have a company intranet, consider adding videos in ASL for Deaf employees to better understand your corporate messaging
- Showcase recruiting materials that feature sign language — providing a diversification of assets to cater to different audiences
- Create a website that meets WCAG and ADA compliance standards for users with disabilities
- Add accessibility in user-centered design
If you have Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees on your team, capitalize on their valuable perspective. Analyzing your approach from multiple angles is key to spotting opportunities and missteps for accessible communications.
What it takes to build an inclusive workplace (and why it’s worth it)
Now let’s look into decision-makers and why they play a critical role in bridging the gap between diversity and accessibility.
What business decisions should private and public entities consider when making strides to incorporate accessibility as their business model?
Start by asking:
- Are our products, marketing, and support teams accessible to everyone? If not, what do we need to change to make them accessible?
- Are my employees and customers equipped with the right tools to communicate with everyone? If not, what tools exist to provide equal service to everyone?
- Does my organization employ individuals with disabilities? If not, what do I need to do to attract the right talent for my business.
- How does shifting to an accessibility-centric business impact our bottom line?
- How does my company’s brand reputation reflect accessibility and inclusion?
As the worldwide leader of inclusive technologies for Deaf and hearing connection, we’ve made it easy with answers for you and your business to get started. These curated tips are coming from our Sorenson committees who represent an inclusive pool of users who are Deaf, Blind, hard-of-hearing and hearing.
Making your products, marketing, and support teams accessible to everyone
Start an inclusive committee (think Employee Resource Groups) including external and internal end-users as part of your product development process. Use them as feedback loops to optimize and generate better ways to make the product and content accessible to a diversified group.
Equip employees and customers with the right tools to communicate with everyone
Embrace diverse cultural and accessibility needs by showcasing communication and accessibility tools to attract diversified talent and customers for your business. For example, Sorenson Express is a first-of-its-kind video-conferencing tool for on-demand ASL interpreting. It’s both an employee and customer solution for spontaneous or urgent interpreting needs.
Employ individuals with disabilities within your organization and attract the right talent for your business
Before you start spending money on recruiting or creating talent attraction campaigns, look at what your company has done for the community and what changes you’ve made as a business to be 100% inclusive for all. Candidates will notice your communications and support channels, so make sure you are optimizing those departments to be accessible. Some great companies who are leading by example are Apple (via its Signtime support program ) or Ford Motors with its steps to cultivate a culture of inclusion and accessibility.
The impact of shifting to an accessibility-centric business on your bottom line
Businesses with a focus on democratizing communication for everyone see an increase in their bottom line, with 28%-30% greater profit margins and twice the net income of their industry peers, per the Inclusion Advantage study by Accenture Research.
While many organizations have prioritized workplace diversity over inclusive workplaces, both are equally important to business success. Language solutions, including sign language interpreting services like Sorenson Express, are helping companies — from Fortune 500s to small businesses, including Deaf-owned enterprises, higher education, and government agencies — leverage new ways to make meaningful connections through technology.