When a person is deciding whether or not to do business with your company, you might expect them to check all the key selling points. Price, benefits and features, brand reputation—these are all things that marketers anticipate customers will care about and, therefore, are the brand identifiers that receive the most attention when it comes to sales and marketing. However, there’s one thing that can have a huge influence on customers that many organizations often overlook—something equally as important as messaging or the USP.
I’m talking about your company’s “About Us” page.
Whatever your website calls it (Meet the Team, Who We Are, etc.), the people represented on your company’s team page provide a snapshot of your company’s greatest asset for growth and success: your people. And your people are what all consumers ultimately care about. That’s because customers don’t want to just buy from companies—they want to connect with the people behind the brands they choose. This is especially true of millennials, who represent the largest and most diverse consumer generation in U.S. history. Indeed, 87 percent of millennials seek companies that prioritize authenticity, community, and integrity as their core values—the very same priorities that millennials recognize in themselves.
Relatability is key to building trust and brand loyalty, so for all businesses looking to win new customers and achieve growth (which, let’s be honest, is ALL businesses), diversity is an essential component to success.
Here’s a look at why it matters for every company.
Lack of diversity is bad for business
Even if you’re not a pop culture enthusiast, there’s a good chance you’ve heard about the brouhaha surrounding this year’s Academy Awards ceremony. For those of you who missed it, here’s a recap: the 2016 Oscars faced a tremendous amount of scrutiny (and dismay) from the film industry, media, and the public at large for a blatant and disconcerting lack of diversity among the nominees for the second consecutive year. Aside from being a PR nightmare, the situation served as an eye-opening commentary about equality, opportunity, and business in general.
Yes, business. What many people forget is that the entertainment industry is just that—an industry representing a multitude of businesses that cater to a diverse population of consumers. So why, with such a huge potential customer base, does Hollywood remain so homogenous? For a lot of the same reasons that many other businesses do, too. Ingrained biases, a lack of buy-in from leaders and decision-makers, barefaced denial about an ever-changing world—all of these things contribute to a lack of diversity that weakens business success.
Research reveals that movies and TV shows with diverse casts make more money and receive higher ratings, respectively. Additionally, companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to perform better financially than their industry medians. It’s clear that whether you’re talking about the entertainment business or any other type of business, diversity matters; without it, you stand to alienate a huge market of potential customers.
The world is your marketplace
There are currently more than 3.3 billion internet users worldwide, representing nearly half of the global population. In North America alone, connected consumers account for 87.9 percent of the entire population.
While it’s unrealistic to expect any company to actively represent every individual or culture in the world, a little bit of effort and understanding goes a long way. For example, only about 27 percent of internet users are native English speakers. This means that companies that don’t diversify their marketing materials, or can’t provide other ways to relate to or connect with these segments, may be excluding 70 percent of potential customers around the world.
What’s more, research suggests that a team with a member who shares a client’s ethnicity is 152 percent likelier than another team to understand that client—152 percent! In an age when competition is fierce across the global stage, companies with diverse teams have a definite advantage.
Innovation requires collaboration and new perspectives
For many businesses, staying innovative is a constant challenge. Technology and increasing connectivity are helping to ensure that virtually all industries are rapidly changing. In order to keep up, companies need to be more adaptable, flexible, and creative in how they set and achieve goals.
Tapping into new perspectives and capabilities is one solution with far-reaching potential. Apple gets it—not only do they put a priority on diversity, they also champion the transparency of their inclusive efforts in recognition of how important it is to their continued success as one of the world’s most innovative brands. They understand what research has told us for ages: diversity is a key driver of innovation and is a critical component of being successful on a global scale.
Diversity starts at the top
Yet, despite an increased awareness of the importance of diversity in the workplace, many businesses still struggle with implementing these initiatives. The reality is that real change starts in the C-suite. The Center for Talent Innovation found that without diverse leadership, women are 20 percent less likely than straight white men to win endorsement for their ideas; people of color are 24 percent less likely; and LGBTs are 21 percent less likely. It’s these unique and diverse perspectives that drive the innovation engines in many companies.
Unfortunately, minorities in the professional space don’t expect to find any diversity at the C-Suite level because, historically, there has been little-to-no representation there. It’s the responsibility of leaders and those in the C-suite to identify opportunities for diversity and serve as champions for bringing diverse talent to the board rooms.
The simple truth is that diversity matters. Whether companies are looking to win or retain customers, build innovative portfolios, or create a foundation for sustainable success, diversity is what helps make it all possible—and it’s the humble “About Us” page that often serves as a big indicator of what many companies are able to achieve. All organizations that are considering potential strategies for growth should start by answering this one, fundamental question: when so much potential for success rests in the diversity of your team, what does your “About Us” page say about your company?
Enterprising Women is a partner in the new Million Women Mentors (MWM) initiative.
The initiative supports the engagement of one million science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) mentors — women and men — to increase the interest and confidence of young women to pursue and succeed in STEM degrees and careers.