Designing an inclusive business culture

Now we can reconsider how our businesses can include all.

In my previous blog (10 November 2020 I discussed leadership values that prioritised empathy, clarity, and creativity are a change from traditional corporate mindsets. Whilst these approaches are often connected to the start-up community there is a shift within business to consider different ways of doing things. In the global marketplace having awareness and empathy for difference is essential, this goes beyond language and requires a more inclusive view of your consumers. A positive way to design an inclusive company is to build this into the leadership team.

It is proven that companies with diverse leadership teams attain 73% more revenue from innovation and are 33% more likely to outperform. (McKinsey & Co 2020 report – Diversity Still Matters) Whilst there are ample examples of schemes to support gender and ethnic diversity in business leadership, yet disability has only recently received focused attention. Inclusivity often gets relegated to regulatory considerations for accessibility of the physical workplace or the digital environment.

Where companies have been slow to offer flexible working in the past the pandemic has demonstrated to leaders that people can be trusted to work in different ways that suit them. Whilst some are keen to return to office there is a huge opportunity for change.

The Accenture Disability Inclusion Advantage Report noted that companies that championed disability inclusion achieved 28% higher revenue and doubled their net income. The business case is clear and is becoming appreciated by C-suite executives. The Valuable 500 campaign, launched at the World Economic Forum in 2019, has a mission to revolutionise disability inclusion through business leadership and opportunity. This, along with acknowledgment that creativity, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence are among the top skills in demand demonstrate that doing things differently is crucial for business.

InnovateUk’s new design strategy and the Design Council both advocate for the power of design to tackle economic challenges of our time and bring about real, positive, change in people’s lives. Inclusive design uses creative thinking and human-centred research methods. Working with users can drive innovation and set companies apart from their competitors, yet it needs a clear consideration of ethics and models of best practice.

Do reach out to me at [email protected] to continue the conversation about the business benefits of diversity and inclusion, and particularly in embedding inclusive and design-led approaches.

Dr Jo Gooding (she/her) is the founder and director of Design Research Associates, a consultancy that supports innovators and entrepreneurs to engage with inclusive design knowledge and research


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