Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Your Local Business
Over the past few years, widespread social efforts to improve equality and representation have extended their influence into the business world.
At first, many of those companies and their leadership may have been motivated to use their influence to support social change that aligned with their brand values. But as brands have embraced and implemented changes designed to support those initiatives, businesses of all sizes have discovered the business benefits that can come with brand transformations inspired by social activism.
From large corporations to small local businesses, new initiatives focused on diversity, equity and inclusion have created new advantages and opportunities that the leaders of those businesses may not have expected.
As the Great Resignation, economic volatility, supply chain issues and other challenges continue to disrupt business operations across every industry, these DEI efforts are helping businesses connect with their audience, strengthen their workplace operations, and grow their customer base over time.
What is Diversity, Inclusion and Equity?
Although DEI is often used as a blanket term to describe initiatives related to equality, representation and other social issues, the differences between diversity, equity and inclusion are important to understand—especially if your business is eager to develop and implement these initiatives for itself.
Here’s a quick look at the key characteristics of each of these terms:
- Diversity: This means that the business is comprised of a diverse group of workers, serves a diverse group of customers, and/or is influenced and shaped by a diverse group of stakeholders.
- Equity: An emphasis on equity means that your business makes an effort to equal serve all of its customers, and/or addresses barriers that would otherwise prevent marginalized audiences from taking advantage of opportunities offered by your business. As an employer, for example, an equity initiative might include creating an internship or apprenticeship specifically for professionals from under-represented backgrounds.
- Inclusion: Any inclusion initiative should be focused on ensuring accessibility and opportunity to all members of your audience. This includes making sure that in-store experiences are accessible to those with disabilities, and involving a wide range of voices and perspectives in business decisions.
The Value of DEI to Your Customer Experience
Diversity, equity and inclusion efforts can have a direct impact on how customers perceive your business—and, in many cases, those DEI initiatives can attract new customers who might have otherwise gone in a different direction. One U.S. consumer survey found that 64 percent of consumers were moved to take action after viewing a diverse and inclusive advertisement.
Certain underrepresented consumer groups may be even more likely to engage with brands whose advertising represents their identities or values. The same consumer survey found that 69 percent of Black consumers were more likely to make a purchase from brands that positively reflected their race and/or ethnicity in their advertising. Seventy-one percent of LGBTQ consumers said they were more likely to interact with ads that accurately represented their identities.
But the impact of DEI can extend even beyond these underserved audiences themselves. For 70 percent of consumers, social and political engagement is an important characteristic of brands they regularly seek out. DEI efforts can significantly shape how consumers view your brand, which in turn can affect their willingness to spend their money with your business. This trend makes it increasingly difficult to separate DEI from your overall customer experience.
Improving Business Outcomes Through a Commitment to DEI
Research and business surveys have shown that, when companies successfully implement DEI initiatives, they experience a wave of benefits across the organization—including benefits that directly impact their bottom line.
These outcomes can include:
- Improved outreach to a broader customer base. As mentioned above, a more diverse and expansive audience can be attracted when consumers see their identities positively reflected in, and engaged by, your business.
- Greater customer retention and customer satisfaction. A better customer experience leads to increased loyalty and retention. While this strengthens your core customer base and stabilizes revenues, it also increases the value of your advertising and marketing by raising the average lifetime value (LTV) of each customer.
- Higher employee morale. DEI initiatives cultivate a more inclusive workplace culture where individual voices are heard and valued. This gives employees a greater sense of ownership and agency, increasing job satisfaction and reducing turnover.
- Improved long-term growth potential. Through reduced customer churn and improved engagement of diverse audiences, you can preserve your existing customer base and more easily grow within your local market.
- Business operations that align with your brand mission. When you develop DEI initiatives that align with your brand mission, you can be proud of using your business to enact the change you want to see in your community. While that can improve your outreach to local consumers, it can also offer greater fulfillment as a local business owner or leader.
From your business operations to your advertising strategy, a commitment to DEI can help your business build better relationships with your local customers. A digital advertising partner can help you ensure your advertising and marketing campaigns are supporting these DEI efforts through your audience targeting, messaging, and other elements of your digital strategy.
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