Accessibility and Inclusivity are more important than ever before. Businesses that communicate and utilize language in a way that includes everyone ensure a more welcoming environment not only for their clients but their employees as well.
Accessibility is defined as the quality of being easily understood or appreciated. Inclusivity is defined as the practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities or resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those having physical or intellectual disabilities or belonging to minority groups.
Let's discuss three ways businesses can communicate in order to promote a more inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone they interact with.
1. Encourage Using Pronouns in Communications
Personal gender pronouns are an important part of a person's identity. Examples include “she/her”, “he/him”, and “they/them.”
Using correct pronouns when speaking and referring to your clients and employees will ensure queer, non-binary, transgender and gender non-conforming individuals will feel respected and included by you and your work-place.
Consider doing the following in your business:
- Include pronouns in email signatures, business cards, on websites, and when introducing yourself at meetings
- Utilize neutral language wherever possible such as “Hey, everyone” instead of “Hey guys/girls,” or, “they” versus “he/her” – this is especially true if you don't know how a person identifies.
- If you make a mistake and someone corrects you, thank them instead of apologizing as correcting others is tiring for many transgender and non-binary people.
- Practice, practice, practice – change takes time and by practicing someone's correct pronouns will ensure you get them right as soon as possible.
2. Reflect A Diverse Group of People in Company Branding
When prospective clients, customers, or employees look at a business website, they want to see people that look like them. And this includes more than just gender.
Diverse branding and content includes images and words that include race/ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, disability, and veteran status. Reflecting diversity also often fosters inclusivity.
Plus, by including a multitude of identities, businesses bring and make space for new ideas that will reach a broader community of diverse clients and employees.
Not every brand can cater to every human identity, so be sure to do your research to align your branding with your target audience as specifically as possible.
3. Improve Accessibility
The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life and was implemented to ensure people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.
And yet, many differently-abled individuals still struggle and accessibility often feels like an afterthought when interacting with many businesses and organizations.
Improving accessibility standards goes far beyond compliance and includes more than just physical access such as easy parking and entrance ways and wide pathways in the office – though those are a great start.
Businesses should also implement:
- Reachable, usable, and well-lit interiors
- Wheelchair accessible restrooms
- Accessible technology such as captioned phones and captioned video meetings
- Reviews of company policies to ensure people with disabilities are fully supported
While not all these changes can happen at once, business owners should take care of their immediate needs first and make employees and customers aware of the efforts to provide a more accessible environment.
Fostering a diverse, inclusive, and accessible work environment both in your everyday interactions and branding will likely make your clients and customers feel more welcome and comfortable doing business with you.
And there is no better time than now. And if you need extra support and ensure you are in compliance, reach out to us for a consultation. We are here to help business owners create a thriving and welcoming workplace for employees and customers alike.