Inclusivity must not be a casualty of digital transformation

The pandemic led to a boom in digital transformation, but leaders need to be mindful of inclusivity in these spaces

The pandemic provided a final push to many businesses, bringing them to the point of much-needed digital transformation. Still, the addition of new tools and functions needs careful consideration so that technologies like AI and automation can serve and support diverse consumers.

Self-regulation aims to operate within apps, markets, and digital spaces to serve as many people as possible. Today, there can be a temptation to add AI to everything and automate all services. Without a clearly defined implementation strategy, an unaudited addition can put existing systems at risk.

Developing inclusive AI practices

For all brands, the pillars of inclusivity range from accessibility to encompassing all people in every aspect of business, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, or self-identity. Unfortunately, new technology doesn’t always lead to inclusivity when organizations undergo digital transformation.

AI is a trending topic for updating and implementing the latest computerized mechanisms. Despite its advantages, there are countless examples where companies have not committed to checking outcomes and reducing bias. Thinking that this is purely a technological problem is misguided. All computers are subject to and programmed by human input and guidance.

Thankfully, organisations like Oracle, Microsoft, and Airbnb are leading the way to solutions for digital exclusion. It’s critical that we take responsibility for fostering belonging through prioritising representation, providing comprehensive training, and normalising the inclusion of diverse communities from the beginning. There’s no good way to embrace intersectional insight when creating products without representative teams.

Proactive leadership

The build-out of tools, like facial recognition, is an example of what can happen when homogeneous teams develop products. LGBTQ+ identities are often undermined and racial bias perpetuated by facial recognition technology, leading to unnecessarily harmful, entirely preventable experiences for both consumers and brands.

Ensuring your business employs a diverse workforce doesn’t stop at the hiring level, but necessitates that leadership is proactive in valuing all team members’ points of view. When tech workers report that their products are not inclusive, it’s vital that leaders and designers listen.

Digital transformation can create a more universally representative workspace when it’s intentionally incorporated from the development stages. Opening channels for team input, inviting customer feedback, and encouraging engagement guarantees brands stay accountable for every growth stage and can quickly course correct when mistakes happen.

Personalisation and education are powerful tools in guiding business practices around inclusivity and assessing customer evaluations. 72% of consumers claim they respond to marketing messages that are crafted to their choices. 70% of Gen Z are more trusting of brands that represent diversity in advertising. 71% of LGBQT+ consumers are more likely to interact with an online ad depicting their orientation authentically. It’s not an understatement to acknowledge how important representation is at every industry level. For every position in an organisation, understanding the total capacity of digital modernisation requires a comprehensive view of technical literacy and social awareness. In a more globalised era than ever before, when brands invest in inclusivity, the benefits extend far beyond an increase in revenue.

Colin O'Riordan

Colin has 6 years experience working across a range of industries such as technology, pharmaceutical and tourism in both the U.S. and Ireland. As a Digital Strategist at Brandwidth, he enjoys optimizing digital user journeys, consulting on client communication strategies, and uplifting the digital customer experience. Colin also contributes regularly to digital marketing publications and has been featured in the HubSpot Blog, MarTech Series and Kivo Daily.

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