Diversity and inclusion initiatives are beginning to gain real momentum in America. Beyond the empty statements many companies issued following the murder of George Floyd, we’ve seen a significant uptick in the number of companies putting in the work to develop and implement sustainable programs. Tactics include everything from more inclusive marketing to diversifying corporate boards and leadership teams.
Data supports the argument that weaving diversity and inclusion best practices into your company culture isn’t just the right thing to do from a social perspective but from a financial one as well. It promotes top-line growth, making it an attractive proposition for corporate leadership.
In a study our firm conducted on diversity and inclusion, we found that minority groups are more likely to support brands that make a public commitment to diversity and inclusion, spend more and make their support known on social media.
Despite the progress, many companies still resist implementing real change. The reasons for not investing in diversity and inclusion range from being too difficult to not having the budget. Those arguments may sound valid from an operational standpoint within an organization, but the costs of not acting are even greater. Reframing the conversation is key to spurring action among laggards.
Diversity and inclusion initiatives open new business opportunities. So, positioning it as a means of selling your existing products and services to a broader range of people should get any savvy business leader to perk their ears and listen.
But how exactly do diversity and inclusion open new markets? Here are three examples demonstrating ways inclusivity can create opportunities for organizations to offer products and services to users they may not have considered before:
1. Multicultural Consumers: The Census Bureau just released some eye-opening statistics. The non-Hispanic White population decreased for the first time in our nation’s history. Furthermore, Latinos and Asians drove all population growth. That’s worth repeating. Per the 2020 Census, Latinos and Asians in the U.S. drove all population growth in our country over the last 10 years. The Black population held steady, neither contracting nor growing. The takeaway? Minority audiences are driving population growth, thus presenting significant opportunities for stagnant companies.
2. Trans/Non-Binary Consumers: As a market researcher, one common rebuttal I get to opening up our binary male/female options in surveys is confusion on what to do with the data. Meaning there is no longitudinal data for trans/non-binary consumers. My answer? There is no better time to open your survey to trans/non-binary consumers than now. The pandemic has altered shopping habits, making the pre-pandemic data you have almost useless. How exciting will it be to learn about a consumer you’ve never researched before? According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, "More than 12% of U.S. millennials identify as transgender or gender non-conforming..." And "Globally, 25% of Gen Zers expect to change their gender identity at least once during their lifetime." Your understanding of gender identity must evolve as gender continues to become more fluid, influencing purchase decisions.
3. Disabled Consumers: Differently-abled consumers and their families and friends represent $13 trillion of disposable income worldwide. Disability inclusion is becoming more firmly fixed as part of businesses' diversity and inclusion plans, from hiring to advertising. It goes far beyond retrofitting offices with extra-wide door frames and ramps. As with any consumer group, disabled consumers want to feel a sense of belonging and see themselves reflected positively in the fabric of society.
The above list only highlights three groups that, with proper attention, could become loyal customers. Paying attention to diversity and inclusion within your organization makes it more competitive, a sentiment echoed by Solomon Bennett, Head of Insights for Target on our company's The New Mainstream Podcast, who stated that it not only makes sense but it “makes cents.”
Are you looking past your current demographics to expand your addressable audience? Developing and implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives can help firms improve work outcomes and productivity while attracting, engaging and retaining employees. Business leaders can no longer hide behind the fear of getting it wrong. Hire a consultant or do your due diligence to thoughtfully integrate diversity and inclusion into your operations to create representative cultures that enable every consumer to succeed.
This article originally appeared on Forbes.