Wow, has time been flying! It’s been a month since International Women’s Day, and there have been a few ups and downs in terms of this year’s IWD theme, #BalanceForBetter. In March, Virgin Atlantic Airlines struck down their mandatory makeup policy for air hostesses. Their policy now includes pants as a standard women’s uniform option alongside the traditional pencil skirt. Chicago elected its first gay, black female mayor last week while NASA’s first all-women space walk was cancelled. Why? The space station did not carry enough medium sized spacesuits to fit the women.
The overwhelming public response to each of these announcements has resounded through the internet and workplace conversations across the world. After all, remember when Dropbox used the wrong picture to promote their diversity report? Whether you believe an all women spacewalk is overdue or unnecessary, the public backlash from diversity-centric news shows that industry inclusivity is not only socially laudable, but a profitable business strategy.
Why is inclusivity profitable?
Inclusive product design and marketing isn’t just a quota to fill or a way to satisfy the millennials. It’s an open invitation for new perspectives and new consumers to join expanding markets. We see this in the commercial success of films like Black Panther (which made $1 billion within 26 days of releasing) and Crazy Rich Asians ($230+ million and counting). This effect is also evident in rising beauty brands such as Fenty Beauty.
Fenty Beauty by Rihanna accomplished two major feats. First, the line features over 40 different foundation shades for women of different skin tones. Second, it shined a spotlight on plus-sized models when they graced the SavagexFenty runway during New York Fashion Week in 2018. The whopping $100 million the Fenty line raked in upon its launch was a clear signal of one of the most basic but neglected marketing principles:
People like to see the stories they identify with represented in media and they support the companies that deliver it.
For the first time, many women with dark skin, uncommon undertones, or skin conditions like albinism could enjoy beauty products without the frustrations of trying to shade-match with the same 5 options. More people were not only eager to buy Fenty merchandise but willing to drop hefty sums on the beauty products. In fact, Fenty Beauty fans spent an average of $471 on makeup per year.
Similarly, Victoria’s Secret, the quintessential lingerie brand, continues to witness a slow down in business. They experienced a
Instead, there is a steady, observable increase in sales by competing companies like Naja and Aerie. Naja is a female founded lingerie brand that employs single mothers from developing countries. Aerie rose to fame after its #AerieREAL campaign launch, featuring unedited photos of models of different body types and ethnicities. The success of these new brands further indicates the consumer’s growing demand for inclusivity in business.
How can you tap into these growing markets?
Listen to your customers.
Often times, they are the first ones to tell you if a certain feature would greatly improve your product or if something just isn’t working the way it should.
Diversity doesn’t only refer to racial background. It includes socioeconomic class, personal values, gender, education, Hogwarts house, any qualities that challenge conformity of thought in the workplace. The more different perspectives you can bring to the table, the more insightfully you can cater to people’s varying needs with your product or service — and the more creative your business can be!
As Virgin America’s bold dress code update reveals, company policy is telling of its values. Take Daniel Kowetzky, who successfully built an entire healthful snacking empire based on a single idea: kindness. The activities and conversations that take place in the office set the tone for what attitudes and values are most appreciated. Make it abundantly clear that “locker room talk” is not welcome and give people who may be having trouble getting their foot through the door opportunities to speak up with confidence that they will be heard.
Commit to include.
Little steps such as choosing color-blind friendly palettes for graphic design or captioning promotional video content gives your company even further reach to spread its message and increase its influence. More people can engage meaningfully with the services you provide.
Be proud of your commitment, too! Sharing your efforts is a great way to communicate your business’s values to potential customers. It often encourages competing businesses to do the same too, so set a trend and make a change.
Redirect the spotlight.
You might be surprised in what ways your product or service can improve the quality of life for underserved groups in society. Technology like Amazon’s Alexa Home or Google Assistant have revolutionized the lifestyles of people with visual or mobile disabilities. The products offer independence and autonomy in their daily routines. Ask around and develop ways your product can also benefit an underrepresented community.
While this is only a taste of all that inclusivity offers to your business and to the world, we celebrate the efforts of businesses across different industries that enable diversity in its mission. How will you bring about #BalanceForBetter?