In recent years Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) has been a priority for many organisations, reflected in HR policies and initiatives, and strong leadership commitment. The various business benefits of a good D&I policy have been well documented with positive outcomes including increased innovation, stronger profitability and better recruitment and retention; if you want to attract the best people from the widest possible pool of talent then a D&I policy is going to help.
With D&I now regarded as an essential component of a good employer brand and value proposition, and even as a positive for how consumers regard a brand, many organisations are keen to stress their D&I commitment and credentials. This means that your external-facing digital channels need to consistently align with your D&I policies in two main ways:
Before we explore this topic in more detail, it’s worth considering a definition of Diversity and Inclusion.
The US-based Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), refers to Diversity as “the similarities and differences between individuals accounting for all aspects of one's personality and individual identity”. This covers everything from age, gender, ethnicity, language, religion, sexual orientation, disability and more.
SHRM refers to Inclusion as “the extent to which each person in an organization feels welcomed, respected, supported and valued as a team member”.
A website, therefore, needs to reflect diversity in your organisation, but also support inclusion. For example, a truly accessible website means that a person with a disability is being respected and supported. An inaccessible website is not welcoming or respecting a person with a disability.
It’s important to make sure that your content reflects your organisation’s commitment to Diversity & Inclusion. There are various things to watch for, including:
If D&I is important to your leadership and potentially important to your prospective employees and customers, then it should be explicitly covered, especially in any career or recruitment section of your website. The coverage you give it should be appropriate and, depending on your website objectives, could range from a prominent paragraph to a page to an entire section, for example like this diversity area from Johnson & Johnson.
Your content should also show D&I in action, for example in news items or profiles of real employees; nobody wants to read a dry, policy page. Actions help to validate a true commitment to D&I.
The tone of voice of your content should again align with your organisational commitment to D&I. Often if it doesn’t it is unintentional – a use of “he” for example across all your pages to describe a generic person. When talking about D&I it’s also important not to sound patronising, tokenistic or inauthentic.
Imagery is generally an area where digital teams are already quite conscious about representing a diverse workforce. Again, it’s quite easy to appear tokenistic particularly when using stock photos; using photos of actual employees can help with this.
Any commitment to D&I is going to cover those who are disabled. Just as your physical buildings need to be accessible to support those with disabilities, your digital estate needs to be accessible too. When your website is not accessible it means you are not living up to your own D&I policies.
The worst thing that you can probably do is have a D&I page that isn’t truly accessible! If you’re working towards WCAG 2.1 compliance, then absolutely make sure that this area is accessible. Use automation with a product like Sitemorse to check this.
A person with a disability who is interested in working for an organisation may well be deterred in making an application if they find a careers site or pages are not accessible. This applies to online recruitment too; many organisations use third-party tools for job boards and the application process. Make sure any third-party tool also is truly accessible.
If some of your senior management do not regard website accessibility as a priority, then potentially involve your D&I stakeholder to act as a champion for accessibility and help get it on the agenda. They will want to build a truly inclusive workplace.
Don’t forget your internal channels
Website accessibility is important, but so is your intranet, employee social network and other core digital workplace tools. Make sure the commitment you make to digital accessibility is not a token effort that just impacts your website; D&I policies need to be carried out and reflected across all your digital channels.
Make your commitment to D&I real
Diversity & Inclusion isn’t a tick-the-box exercise. It’s also not something nice and fluffy; organisations want to attract the best people and be successful. Accessibility goes hand-in-hand with D&I; make sure that your website is fully compliant with WCAG 2.1 guidelines and that your content also aligns with your policies. Make your commitment to D&I real and then the benefits will start to flow.