By Devon Christianson, Envision Board member and Health and Well-Being Signals Team

Younger generations are challenging companies to put their diversity and inclusion policies into action.  According to a 2021 study by Deloitte, “it’s not enough to just market inclusiveness or diversity, as our results also show 57% of consumers are more loyal to brands that commit to addressing social inequities in their actions.”  And true diversity and inclusion go beyond race and ethnicity.  Brand loyalty also includes images and engagement with persons who identify as LGBTQ+ and those with disabilities. Companies are following suit as they see their gateway to growth reaching younger consumers with positive images and opportunities in a celebrated diverse community.  The younger generations want more than just hiring practices or marketing strategies; they want to see functions and business change to match their message.

All around the world, business is embracing this strategy. The SIMs video game, which has been creating a virtual world of life simulation for over two decades, recently released its latest update: Now players can create visual images of themselves that reflect all of them.  Medical wearables, like hearing aids and diabetic glucose monitors are now an option. Binders, top surgery scars and shapewear help create a safe, inclusive environment for transgender players seeking connection.

In Peru, where just 23% of blind people can find employment, a sunglass modeling agency employs models with low or no vision who now can “make themselves seen.” Who better to be working in the sunglass industry than people who use this product every day? Ray-Ban has shown interest in adopting the practice.

Inspired by persons with disabilities, Arisa Okumura, a Japanese businesswoman, creates pop-up cafes with servers who struggle with stuttering.  The café creates an opportunity for customers to come prepared with patience, empathy, and purchasing power, as they are exposed to persons who have gifts they might have previously viewed as deficits.  In the hospitality industry, which struggles to maintain its workforce, why wouldn’t we provide real jobs for real people?

In Canada, connecting persons with disabilities with paid employment has just become easier. The Canadian Down Syndrome Society recently launched a platform on LinkedIn connecting job seeker with employers on its “Inployable” network. Finding a job shouldn’t rely only on word of mouth or an ad in a local newspaper: Digital connection is how employment advertising thrives.  Without a presence on such platforms, a large community of future employees is excluded.

Interested in destigmatizing people and, instead, celebrating them for their contributions to the community, the next generation is moving inclusion forward through their pocketbooks. All over the world, businesses recognize the growth opportunities for their companies and brands in such practices.   Imagine where this will go in the next 5-10 years, when equity and inclusion are no longer “something nice to do” but have become the only way forward!  

Enjoy the full articles here:
LinkedIn. Inployable.
Londono, Laura. “Innovation of the Day,” December 7, 2022.
More fixes, more new content, and more console,” January 31, 2023.
Veenstra, Jennifer. “Authentically inclusive marketing,” October 19, 2021.