Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Impact on Language, Culture, and Global Brands
With 72% of consumers stating that they prefer to purchase from brands that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), global brands need to pay close attention to DEI in their content and messaging. LSPs, collaborating with their clients’ internal DEI and Localization teams, can recommend ways to integrate DEI into global messaging to support local markets better.
The Benefits of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Global Brands
Diversity and inclusion matter. While this fundamental truth is a big part of the human condition, it’s also an essential way of doing business in the modern world.
Not only are Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging, or DEIB, critical to your workers – in a recent survey, a majority of employees affirmed that it’s essential to work at an organization that prioritizes these values — but it’s equally essential to your bottom line.
Below we will discuss how changing the way you use language can widen your audience and amplify how your messages are broadcast and how they are received in your target market.
Too often, DEIB initiatives are overlooked in favor of projects or initiatives that may seem like ‘quick wins’ or more closely aligned to business growth. However, in much the same way that treating people equitably is a way of life, honoring the cultural and emotional intelligence of others turns out to make good business sense, too.
With 72% of consumers stating that diversity, equity, and inclusion are critical to their brand choice, global brands must focus on DEIB in everyday operations, communications, strategy, and optics. One beneficial resource may already be helping you spread the word to different people worldwide: your language services partner or LSP.
In the same way, language services experts are essential to guiding your business communications with customers; your LSP is an untapped resource to support your DEIB efforts internally and across local, regional, and global markets.
Why Diversity and Accessibility Are Critical
The world has changed significantly, and not all that long ago. From societal shifts towards globalization to movements that recognize and honor gender neutrality, how people interact continues to grow and evolve. The rise of global workforces and the shift towards remote work reflects a new environment that demands inclusion and diversity to compete on the world stage.
Doing the Right Thing Works
As a popular television coach says, “Doing the right thing is never the wrong thing.” Making sure that anyone who wants to use your product or service can do so is the right thing for them, your company, and the people who respect your brand.
Ethically doing business should be an easy win, but it is something to remember when considering how your organization approaches DEIB. Hiring standards that protect against racism and sexism and sharing your corporate ethical values are excellent places to start. Your hiring practices, company values, and the charities you choose to support are all part of doing business.
Language and Content Tactics to Improve DEIB Across Your Brand
DEIB issues are essential in a business’s content creation, interactions, and personalization. Here are some ways to think about these opportunities and a few actions you can take to cast a wider net for your product or service.
Storytelling, Creativity, Diversity, Inclusion
Storytelling is one of the oldest ways people communicate with one another, so it’s no surprise that global companies create narratives to connect with consumers and solidify connections with their brands. However, if your brand does not employ storytelling strategies that consider DEIB, it can cause real problems.
In their book Beyond Diversity, authors Rohit Bhargava and Jennifer Brown write, “Storytelling can be the most potent way to celebrate progress, inspire change, and bring about a more diverse world. If stories shape our perceptions, then perhaps the stories we never hear shape our biases through the lack of awareness they enable.”
Failing to take DEIB issues seriously subtracts a considerable percentage of the buying public from a feeling of connection. Storytelling as a tactic for improving the bottom line could just as easily start with a question:
Whose stories are we telling?
Customers who can see themselves using your product or service are more likely to form a brand connection and feel positively about your offerings, both now and in the future. In many cases, brands can use storytelling to help change consumer thought processes over time, leading to a broader audience and a more successful business.
Content Creation and Accessibility
Unfortunately, disability is often overlooked in discussions around diversity and inclusion, especially regarding content creation. However, there are many ways to make content more accessible, such as:
- Inclusive images
- Language and translation, which we’ll discuss further below
- Using a single sensory characteristic to convey meaning
- Testing new designs not just across devices but with people
Revising and Revamping Your Style Guides
A concrete action you can take today is to examine your style guides and the language they use. One of the first steps in improving diversity and inclusion practices is looking at your brand voice and how your brand addresses customers.
- Are you using inclusive language throughout and in your glossary development?
- Are you offering gender-neutral content and accessibility options?
- Are you focused on avoiding stereotypes and potentially offensive content?
As your brand grows, it is crucial to regularly review and revise your style guides to showcase your commitment to diversity. That may mean making edits or highlighting essential values of your company.
Connecting Locally, Globally, and Humanely
The language business is tricky because many people think communication, like translation, is an apples-to-apples business, but it’s not. When it comes to DEIB, one unique service that language services companies offer has to do with the specificity of language.
For many LSPs, translation means communicating appropriately with customers in their language. The real work of a language services partner is localization, defined simply as the process of making something local. For our purposes in the business world, it is adapting a product or service to meet the needs of a particular language, culture, or desired population’s “look and feel.”
By considering the cultural, visual, and technological aspects of the messages you want to communicate, you’re more likely to reach a wider audience interested in engaging with your brand.
Trusting in Terminologists and Culture Experts
For many businesses, examining their language use is an excellent place to start, but communicating locally can’t be done in a vacuum. Your LSP is a valuable source of expertise who can help you hone your messaging.
Terminologists can help ensure you use the correct language and terminology to accurately communicate your point in any given situation.
Local experts understand the cultures of different audiences you might be trying to reach and can help tailor your content. Having cultural experts review your content ensures that it is culturally sensitive, meets each audience’s unique needs, and avoids embarrassing mistakes.
Planning for Variations Between Countries
Acknowledging that a country does things differently is not enough to launch business operations there. Creating stories with hyper-local relevance and acknowledging local holidays and other traditions is a good start. Still, the nuts and bolts of delivering a marketing message in a relatable, understandable way takes a little more work.
When you target a global audience for your brand, assume from the beginning that there will be critical variations between countries and cultures. For example, some universally understood symbols in one country may be less widely understood in another. A country reading from left to right may need a different layout than one reading from right to left.
Asian languages also shrink due to the nature of their characters, which can significantly affect layout and design. Furthermore, you may need different images for your target markets. It is about more than just translating the content verbatim – it’s about ensuring that each market receives a product that feels like it was created just for them.
Assume from the beginning that while there may be similarities in what you offer customers in different countries, you must embrace each country’s differences and incorporate them into your product, including localized differences for many of your target markets.
Localization + DEIB = Drivers for Global Growth
DEIB initiatives are essential to global growth because broadening diversity, leveling the playing field, and communicating with people where they live are fundamental prerequisites for success in today’s markets.
Like the language experts employed to explain equity versus equality, these ideas don’t require that every customer has a similar experience with your brand. It just means that all customers should have an equally positive brand experience, no matter who they are, where they are, or how they live their lives.