Many modern consumers shop with their consciences, so personal values shape spending decisions. Collectively, the phenomenon dramatically impacts sellers and service providers, as consumers make deliberate decisions to patronize businesses aligned with their values.
More than ever before, the way you do business is as important as the goods you bring to market. From ethical production practices to fair hiring, your target market has high standards, expecting your business to act responsibly. Among their primary concerns, consumers not only want to do business with environmental stewards, but they also insist on inclusive policies, reflecting modern social values.
Make Your Business More Inclusive
Inclusive business practices span a broad range of policies, initiatives, and behavior designed to foster a business climate rich with diversity. Beyond fair hiring practices, a commitment to inclusive commerce may promote partnerships with vendors and suppliers sharing similar beliefs, as well as deliberately reaching out to new markets, in an effort to build a diverse customer base.
The push for greater inclusion has momentum, prompting progressive businesses to get proactive about the matter. Joining them presents multiple benefits for your business. Not only does your commitment to inclusion resonate with your customers, but embracing responsible practices also raises your stature with supply chain partners and strengthens relationships within your organization.
Inc. recently showcased several strategies for making small businesses more inclusive, beginning with these forward-looking business practices.
- Speak to a Diverse Audience – Your brand messages have the power to transcend demographics, but only if you cater your content to a diverse crowd. Rather than recycling the same one-dimensional marketing programs, consider expanding your repertoire with products and content aimed at consumers outside your traditional comfort zone. Though you’ll never satisfy every audience, it’s a mistake to turn a blind eye to particular demographic groups. Inclusive products and content create opportunities to connect with a new audience, at the same time building goodwill among consumers committed to inclusion.
- Prioritize Inclusive Hiring Practices – The sooner you embrace inclusive hiring practices, the faster you’ll reap the benefits of a diverse work force. As inclusion continues expanding its presence in the employment marketplace, your only choice is to ride the wave of the future, or get left behind with outdated hiring practices. Until you make inclusion a priority, the status quo will hold you back.
- Hire Remote Workers – A remote workforce is not constrained by physical distance, so offsite work opportunities naturally lend themselves to greater inclusion. Drawing from a diverse labor pool with remote work opportunities not only broadens your in-house perspective, but a well-rounded team also enables you to communicate more effectively with your global clients.
- Give Everyone a Voice – Inclusive businesses maintain progressive hiring practices, but that’s not the only thing you can do to express your commitment to equality. Regardless of their backgrounds, employees are most productive when their voices are heard within the organization. Rotating meeting leaders, and promoting diverse job candidates from within are two ways to reinforce fair hiring standards, ensuring your company culture makes employees from all walks of life feel valued and appreciated.
- Take an Interest in Your Employees – Without making staff members uncomfortable, communicating on a personal level helps encourage inclusivity in the workplace. As team leader, you should recognize collaborators as individuals, as well as employees. Taking a genuine interest in their hobbies and personal convictions sends the right message, helping team members from diverse backgrounds gel into a productive force. Further dividends emerge when at-ease employees recommend your organization to their professional peers, resulting in productive recruiting without demographic barriers.
Employees Play a Role Promoting Inclusivity
Leadership sets the tone for organizational culture, but employees also play a role promoting diversity and inclusivity in the workplace. Entrepreneur contributor, Frans Johansson, suggests the following strategies for employees committed to fair, equal, and inclusive standards.
- Engage Outside Your Immediate Circle of Coworkers – If your employer’s organizational structure matches the most common corporate approach, you probably work with a relatively narrow band of individuals day after day. Seeking out connections beyond your inner circle not only makes others feel included in larger organizational concerns, but the practice also identifies you as someone others can come to with questions outside their areas of expertise.
- Change Your Environment – Cubicle culture isn’t always conducive to inclusivity. Changing your work environment – even for part of the day, may expose you to new people and ideas you’d be unaware of in your cube. The slight change in perspective may lead to contributions and cross-pollination of ideas between diverse members of the work force.
- Check Your Preconceptions – Your understanding of co-workers’ job responsibilities and expertise fulfilling them might be way off. Assuming you know something about a potential collaborator or their work flow risks getting it wrong and missing productive opportunities. Before jumping to conclusions, go directly to the source for the information you need.
Companies that don’t keep pace with consumer preferences risk becoming obsolete and yielding to progressive organizations, aligned with the future. In modern consumer-driven society, social and environmental responsibility rank highly with buyers, increasingly influencing their spending decisions. In particular, inclusivity and diversity in the work place are values shared by consumers, producers, and supply chain partners. If you haven’t already established inclusive work place standards within your organizations, adopting some or all of these practices may be a step in the right direction.