- The why this matters as heard from your customers. It’s critical you conduct customer research to understand the value this will bring to your customer base. Remember a customer voice, especially a high revenue customer voice, will speak louder than yours in most cases.
- The cost analysis where you demonstrate the cost verses net gain for your company. We will spend X and get back Y amount in dollars, resulting in A amount of free marketing dollars along with intangible benefits such as increased customer trust and brand loyalty.
- The plan of how you will accomplish this for your customer. We will get into this later but I recommend a few options with the best case scenario and the minimum amount you need to be successful. This not only shows you’ve done your homework but also can be a great way to help stakeholders rethink the approach to accessibility and inclusivity.
- Recommendations for making your company as a whole more inclusive. The more people internally who evangelize this effort, the more important it will be for your company to start making this shift. Good starting points are DEI groups, reshaping hiring goals so that they are inclusive, and creating quarterly goals based on accessibility and diversity audits of your company. If you are surrounded by people of the same race and gender as you at your company and no one thinks that’s a problem, you are going to have a much harder time getting a budget for these types of efforts.
1. The why this matters for your customer and why this matters for your people (1 & 4) are intimately connected.
People perform better when they interact with a diverse set of co-workers in a workplace that celebrates authenticity, diversity, and is inclusive. Employees are also more innovative, solve problems faster, and are better equip to handle group conflict than those without DEI (Source).
McKinsey conducted a “Diversity Wins” study to understand the impact diversity and inclusion has in the workplace. They found that
Companies with more than 30 percent women executives were more likely to outperform companies where this percentage ranged from 10 to 30, and in turn these companies were more likely to outperform those with even fewer women executives, or none at all. A substantial differential likelihood of outperformance — 48 percent — separates the most from the least gender-diverse companies.
In the case of ethnic and cultural diversity, our business-case findings are equally compelling: in 2019, top-quartile companies outperformed those in the fourth one by 36 percent in profitability, slightly up from 33 percent in 2017 and 35 percent in 2014. As we have previously found, the likelihood of outperformance continues to be higher for diversity in ethnicity than for gender.
This sentiment of high performance was echoed in Accenture’s Disability Report Getting to Equal 2018: The Disability Inclusion Advantage. “Accenture research shows that companies that have improved their DEI score over time (“Improvers”) were four times more likely to have total shareholder returns that outperform their peers, compared to non-improvers. On average, Improvers’ total shareholders returns outperform industry peers by 53 percent, while other companies outperform their peers by only 4 percent.”
Why your company should care about your customer’s desire for inclusivity.
“Inclusive Design doesn’t mean you’re designing one thing for all people. You’re designing a diversity of ways to participate so everyone has a sense of belonging.”
— Susan Goltsman, Founding Principal of MIG, Inc., co-author of Play for All Guidelines and The Inclusive City.”
As I mentioned previously, everyone can relate to a disability whether it’s temporary, situational, or permanent. It’s walking out of the dark theatre and feeling disoriented by the brightness. It’s experiencing crutches or seeing a friend on crutches and how difficult it became to open a door. It’s that feeling you had before you knew you needed glasses. It’s being left out of the game as a child and how poorly that made you feel. Accessible and inclusive experiences are designed so anyone can participate, and that not only feels good but can also lead to better brand reputation and higher conversation.
According to Ability Net, 75% of “disabled people and their families have walked away from a UK business because of poor accessibility or service.” Think about an older building with stairs at the entrance and no ramp OR a restaurant whose tables are tightly packed together. Someone in a wheelchair has no way of entering that business. Think about a wedding venue that has a hill or requires a bit of a walk, but has no way for your grandparents to safely go there. You wouldn’t choose those venues; you’d choose accessible and inclusive venues.
Inclusivity efforts also increase brand reputation. Research from Catalyst shows, “Organizations with inclusive business cultures and practices are 57.8% more likely to improve their reputations. Consumers are more likely to purchase, or consider purchasing, a product after viewing an advertisement perceived to be diverse or inclusive.”
Your company will want to see how the intangibles of brand reputation tie to revenue. According to a holiday research study conducted by Accenture around Millennials’ buying patterns, Millennials are 51 percent “more likely to shop at a retailer that demonstrates awareness of diversity and inclusion efforts.” Additionally, “Millennials are more likely to choose one brand over another if that brand demonstrates inclusion and diversity in terms of its promotions and offers (cited by 70 percent of younger millennial respondents and 69 percent of older millennials), their in-store experience (66 percent of younger and 72 percent of older millennials), their product range (68 percent of younger and 70 percent of older millennials), and their environmental awareness (61 percent of younger and 57 percent of older millennials).” You can find similar statistics for your customer base (Gen Z, Four generations, Baby Boomers) around how they choose inclusive brands over non-inclusive brands.
After you’ve done your research on your customer base, it’s time to crunch the numbers. First, you will need to identify the goal you are trying to achieve and define what success for you and your team members looks like.
If your goal to make your products more accessible, then invest in either accessibility consultant(s) who can up-skill your team OR hire accessibility experts for your team(s), such as Designers, Product Managers, developers, copywriters, etc. The end output of this work will be accessible and inclusive products. This may help your company tap into a new customer segment, retain your existing customer base who may have left for a more inclusive brand, or increase purchases with your existing customer base.
If your goal to shift the culture of your organization, then you will most likely need to hire a consultant OR partner with an accessibility organization to have guest speakers talk about their experience. I cannot emphasize enough the power of listening to other’s experiences. For example, despite efforts made by Lyft to have more inclusive policies and support riders with service animals, it is a common practice for drivers to unmatch when they see a blind rider’s service dog. This is in violation of Lyft’s policy and the ADA. The impact these exclusionary experiences have on people is heartbreaking and important to hear to make the change.
One you’ve identified your goal — culture or upskill or both, you should create at least two models for investment.
In one proposal, you should answer the question — How many people would you ideally like to hire to support this? For another proposal, you should answer the question — What is the minimum investment and/or number of people you need for this effort to be successful?
Once you’ve identified the max and minimum investment, brainstorm with your team on key activities for success and the timeline. The timeline may be dictated by a product launch or perhaps an OKR for your team is for everyone to have a baseline understanding of accessibility within the next 6 month.
For the activities, ask your team:
- What are the knowledge gaps you are trying to fill with this effort (color contrast, information architecture, form fields, etc.)? One way to fill knowledge gaps is to plan workshops that are at least one hour and have pre-define success metrics. I recommend one hour because I’ve found success when an accessibility workshop has three parts: Part I — Have your team members use screen readers or other accessible tools to accomplish the workshop’s task. This will help garner empathy and nail home the why this matters (15–20 minutes). Part II — Learn from an expert (15–20 minutes). Part III — Q&A (15–20 minutes))
- What deliverables do you want to have at the end of this effort? Deliverables will help new team members ramp up on your team’s accessibility and can be great reference material later. Some common deliverables — Is it an accessible design system? Is it charts to help your team know when an image is decorative verses when it needs an alt tag? Is it recordings from disabled persons to help garner empathy and share out?
- Where does this budget need to come from? This is dependent on who is being trained and who will benefit from this.
- Which stakeholders will champion your efforts? These people are critical allies, especially when it comes to securing a budget. Perhaps you were unable to secure a budget from one part of your organization, and they can help you re-try with another department.
Start by assessing your company’s current stance on DEI. Their stance will help you determine your next steps.
Your accessibility pitch deck should include the following ingredients:
- Why does accessibility matter to you and your customer?
- How will this help the business? It improves internal productivity, increases revenue, and increase brand loyalty and trust.
- Your plan should include the minimum investment case and your ideal investment case.
- A strategy to make your organization more inclusive. You must have a culture of inclusivity, diversity, and accessibility to be successful, and this culture is rooted in empathy and listening.