Any marketing professional worth their weight knows that the brain processes images 60,000 times faster than it does text. Now ask yourself: what if those images are saying over and over and over that a woman isn’t capable of being a scientist, or a professional, or a leader, or an executive, or a president?
What if those images are telling people of color that they cannot achieve what others have? And what if the images are telling the differently abled that they scarcely exist within professional settings? And what if those images are telling women that once they’ve reached the age of 40, they’re done with their careers?
If a picture is worth a thousand words, what’s the value (or damage) of the words left unsaid?
Two years ago, I was profoundly moved by the words of a co-worker when she said, “We need role models to kill that unconscious bias that we all have…we need affinity programs to remind women that they can be leaders, too. Women don’t imagine themselves going beyond a level, because they don’t see women there.”
Those words lead to a very, very uncomfortable path of self-reflection in relation to this site: an inventory of the images was harrowing. Indeed, even here, on a site created and run by women, cognitive bias against women, people of color (POC), and the differently abled was rampant. The few images of women featured were usually in stories about retail shopping. There were less than 20 images featuring POC, and zero of the differently abled.
The images of women in leadership positions were nil, and when I started looking for some, that proved challenging as well. I wrote, “even in the land of staged images where equality could easily reign (it is pretend, after all), the majority of images and illustrations available feature white men. If you’re looking for images with people of color, good luck. If you’re looking for images of professional women that aren’t sexualized in some way, be prepared to spend plenty of time searching.”
I considered the world around us, where women still haven’t advanced equally – or been paid fairly – and realized that politely waiting for change just wasn’t going to cut it anymore. Hence began the mission of creating a thought leadership site that was truly inclusive, diverse, and representative of all.
The stats don’t lie: The business case for diversity and inclusion
With the ideals of equality in mind, we began to reconsider the look and name of our site. While those creative concepts were in the works, I began the tedious process of replacing images on older posts, swapping out the stereotypes of the past with the hope for the future.
Almost immediately, the results of this effort were clear: Readers were clicking on more posts, and engaging with more content. Our bounce rate is the stuff of dreams – less than 1%. I know that number might seem made up, but I swear it’s not.
The time on site increased by over a minute to nearly nine minutes, and 99% of our archives are viewed each day. It turns out that once people can see themselves within different roles, and how they can fit into the organization, they become more engaged.
Most importantly, I think of what a site like this will mean to future generations. A few times a year, I’m asked to talk to students interested in the field. I imagine them looking at the site now and seeing every possibility open to them, no matter what they look like, or who they are.
The future of customer engagement and experience includes all of us
Our new logo incorporates the theme of diversity and inclusion, and that color palette will be featured across the site as a visual reminder that each of us matters:
Though evolutionary adaptation once required humankind to make quick decisions in order to survive, we aren’t living in those times anymore. In order to change the power structures and status quo, we’ve got to evolve and make conscious decisions not rooted in bias, but rooted in what is fair, and what is right.
Only by imagining a future that is better for all of us can we begin to build a world that is inclusive of each of us.
Welcome, my friends, to The Future of Customer Engagement and Experience. It’s our most sincere hope that you know you’re all welcome here.
What do diversity, equality, and inclusion look like in the modern workforce?