Study after study has found that diversity improves business performance by 25, 35, and even 45 percent. But the path to achieving your diversity goals is less clear. Fortunately, becoming more accessible to people with disabilities is something you can start working on today. Doing so will widen your talent pool and help you support a more diverse workforce. Listen in to learn what accessibility means, the cost of not being accessible, and how to get started.
- Briana Harper – Webinar Host
- Robin Stenzel – Chief Solutions Officer
- Kim Carlton – Director of Quality Assurance
BRIANA: It looks like everyone has joined now, so let’s go ahead and get started with the presentation. Thank you for joining us today for our webinar on, “How to Get Win for Diversity and Accessibility in 2020.” I’m really excited about today’s presentation. Study after study has found that diversity improves business performance by 25%, 35%, even 45%. Also, it’s a topic that’s personally important to a lot of people in HR leadership today. I talked to a woman just the other day from Circle K who created the first Women’s Leadership Council at Circle K’s parent company, and I could just hear the passion in her voice as she was talking about this project. She even had a mission statement for the project, which is to create winning conditions for women.
So, our conversation today isn’t focused on women specifically, but we are going to talk about how to achieve greater diversity in your organization. One of the biggest challenges with diversity is that why we all agree it’s the right thing to do, the path to actually achieving your diversity goals is less clear. Fortunately, becoming accessible is a surefire way to widen your talent pool and support a more diverse workforce.
So, again I’d like to say thank you for being here. I know you could be doing a hundred other things right now and you’re here with us, so I really appreciate it. I hope we can provide you with a chance to think, reflect, and plan ahead in the midst of all the New Year busyness. My name is Brian Harper, and I’m your webinar host. I’m also your resource for any questions you have about today’s topic. I’ll be taking questions throughout the presentation, so feel free to chat in any time during our discussion. You’ll also see a follow-up email from me after the presentation with today’s slide deck and a link to the recording. If you’d like to get in touch after the presentation, please reach out. You can email me at bharper@outmatch or find me on social at @OutmatchHCM.
Our two experts on the call today are Robin Stenzel and Kim Carlton. Robin is our Chief Solutions Officer at Outmatch. Prior to Outmatch, Robin spent nearly 30 years in HR leadership where she led talent management at companies like West Rock, Delta Airlines, and Macy’s. All that to say, Robin has been in your shoes and has a lot of experience getting diversity initiatives off the ground and leading them to success. And speaking of shoes, Robin has an impeccable taste in shoes and is known for her very fabulous shoe collection.
BRIANA: Kim is our Director of Quality Assurance and is currently leading our accessibility initiative at Outmatch. She spent the last year training, studying, and working with partners to learn accessibility inside and out. As our accessibility expert, Kim is a driving force in making our software and our company as accessible as possible. And fun fact about Kim, she makes her own sushi. I watched her do this the other day, and I was very impressed.
KIM: Hi, everybody.
BRIANA: Before we dive into our discussion today, I’d like to give you a sneak peek at other upcoming webinars in our future work series. Next month, we have a special Valentine’s Day edition on candidate experience and how to give candidates more love in the hiring process. Then in March, we’ll show you how analytics can help you understand team dynamics and strengthen your internal mobility initiatives. And finally, in April, we’ll dive into culture bit versus culture ad monocultures and how to hire good fits, but not clones. If you’re interested in any of these topics, I’d love to have you back. You can register for upcoming webinars at outmatch.com/webinars. You can also watch any of our past webinars on our YouTube channel. Each presentation as well as today’s presentation is valid for one professional development credit for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP, and I’ll chat in that activity code at the end of the webinar today, so keep an eye out for that.
Now, back to the reason you’re all here, diversity and accessibility, I just wanted to quickly go through some of the questions we’re gonna cover in today’s discussion:
- Why does accessibility matter more now than ever before?
- What does accessibility mean and what does it mean for HR?
- What’s the cost of not being accessible and what are the must-do’s for HR leaders in 2020?
Because everyone’s accessibility journey is different, I’d like to do a quick poll to find out where you are in yours. This will help Robin and Kim understand and talk to the part of the journey that’s most relevant to you. So take a moment to think about your accessibility journey, and I’m going to launch this poll for everyone.
So, it looks like we’ve got answers coming in. I’m very excited to see where everybody is. I’ll give everyone just a couple more seconds to put their answer in, and then I’ll share the results with everyone.
All right. Thank you so much for participating in the poll. It looks like most of you answered (A) I know it’s important and I want to learn more. Let me share these results with everyone. Okay, so 42% said, “I know it’s important and I want to learn more,” 28% said, “I’m eager to make improvements, just need budget and a plan, ” and 30% of you said, “Making improvements and pursuing a fully accessible experience.”
So, thanks again everyone for letting us know where you are in your journey.
All right. So to kick us off, I’d like to circle back to that first question in our agenda. It makes sense that being accessible widened your talent pool and helps you retain the talent you’ve got, which is incredibly important in a tight talent market, but we’ve been in a tight talent market for years, so why is accessibility on everyone’s mind now? Robin, what would you say about that?
ROBIN: So, I think as we — and that we saw this with people who said I’m on the road, right? We’re progressing with our diversity and inclusion journey, and this just becomes one more consideration for us as we work to build and buy environments that are inclusive and allow people, our employees, candidates, and customers to belong. And quite frankly, it’s something that our candidates and employees are demanding of us and our customers. And so if we don’t think of this, we’re not gonna be able to win both in the talent marketplace, but as well as in the consumer marketplace and really thinking about this. And I think this voice — and as we talk more about inclusion and longing — becomes even more important.
Additionally, I think it’s also becoming more and more integrated into our everyday lives if we think about technology, so as we kind of think about accessibility, and Kim’s going to give us some great information on this today. It’s really more of what we do, and examples are, you know, we’ve bought online for years now, but how we buy online is even different. I was watching a news show as I was getting ready this morning and they talked about buying a mattress online, something a few years ago you wouldn’t have thought of because how am I going to return this, right? What does that look like? So, again, even what we’re buying and how we buy it has changed.
On the employees’ side, I think what’s happening is how we do our work is changing consistently? So, while we’ve been using technology for many years, how we use it and how it’s integrated into our jobs has really started to change. And as we think about it, you know, whether it’s the tools that we need to do our work, we need to make sure that they’re supporting our employees and allowing them to be the most productive that they can, so this accessibility again becomes more important. I think a great example kind of from the employees’ standpoint is thinking about onboarding. And so, if you go back many years ago, right? It was sort of this in-person session that you had and then all of us said, “Okay, that doesn’t really work.” We’re becoming broader. Our employees are more just dispersed, and so we really wanna be able to do this from a digital perspective.” And we started all these tools that you could do things online. We’re making even more interactive now, maybe that’s with gamification, maybe it’s with augmented reality or virtual reality. And as you start to add those components in it, this accessibility becomes even more important as we start to change those. So those are just a couple of thoughts I had.
KIM: Yeah and, you know, kind of a follow-up with what Robin said, I mean — and I had to look this up — is that the web is like more than 25 years old now, right? So it’s not a novelty anymore, right? [chuckles] I mean, these apps and these things, they run our lives now. I mean, they keep us on track, they run our lives, and I think a lot of the generation that’s moving into the workforce has had this their entire life, which means their expectations are — everyone’s expectations at this point are really high on what features it has, how it delivers it, you know, things like that. I mean, it’s instrumental.
ROBIN: There was a session first in CHRS that I attended, and one of the things that they talked about was digitally native, right? So as we think about this, this becomes even more and more important clearly with the years of years of experience although you can’t see me 100 years old. You know, that’s not sort of the generation I’m from, but I even find myself I had left my phone, which I know is crazy to think of, some at home one day. I wasn’t sure how to order a cup of coffee because I only order coffee off of the Starbucks app. [chuckles] I didn’t know how to check in for my flight because I only do that from an app. So as you start at Kim’s point to do this, it really starts to change how you think about things.
BRIANA: Yeah, I love those points, and I’m gonna recap some of that for everybody, so that you have this in your takeaway materials, but like Robin and Kim were both talking about, there’s a huge population of digital natives and they and all of us together have higher expectations of what technology is supposed to do. It’s supposed to be there. It’s supposed to work all the time. No downtime. Kim, to your point, when this was new, we were kind of excited to have something new and it was very groundbreaking, and now it’s the norm and it’s just supposed to work and it’s supposed to be there.
There’s also this influence of social media and you have to have a concern about your brand reputation. So what does it say about you, you know, if you’re not accessible, if you don’t have a way for all different types of people to be able to apply for your job or be successful when they get inside your company? And, you know, people are gonna to talk about that. If they have a bad experience, it’s gonna be very loud on the web. And younger generations, too, there’s this idea of generational differences where younger generations, they’ll speak up about things like that where maybe older generations were more go with the flow and do your job and keep your head down. I mean, that’s all changing as well. And then diversity now is not just about demographics and the numbers, it’s about how do you become as innovative as possible and how you create this culture of diverse thinking, so all of these things are shifting kind of as we speak.
ROBIN: I think, too, just if I — if you kind of go back to one of the points that you made, just talk about, you know, a new generation and the expectations and the voice that they have. I think what’s interesting is it’s not necessary that the voice is coming to you and saying, “Hey, your site is not accessible to me. Here’s what it is.” They’re voting and they’re telling their friends through social media. So back to your point on social media, you combine those things that becomes very powerful for you as an organization either as a pro or a con as you look to go back to how are you recruiting, what are your customers saying about your business, you know, all those channels now that that starts to come from.
BRIANA: Yeah, absolutely and just like you said about buying mattresses, I mean, this just wasn’t the way things were done a couple years ago and now it’s almost the only way that it is done is for people to share their experiences online.
KIM: So, let’s talk about web accessibility, kind of what does it mean. So before we go with that, let’s take a step back and like why is the web important, why is all this technology important to us, and, you know, we have an unbelievable amount of information at our fingertips, right? You can — if I want to know about that, let me go search it — let me go Google it, right? And see what’s going on. You have the ability to stay connected. So, if you don’t live near your family, you don’t live near your friends, you now have the ability to almost feel like you’re in the same room having a conversation with them, right? So those — a lot of those barriers are gone and I think that’s one thing if we think about technology and we think about the web is it really removes barriers whether it be location barriers, physical barriers, and language barriers, right? It removes all of those, so we can start to have relationships and gain knowledge really across the world.
So, if we think about what accessibility is? So, you got web accessibility on top of that and again it’s making sure those digital products are easily accessible to everyone. This is across the board whether it’s someone with a disability or possibly a person without a disability. Everyone needs the same experience. Everybody needs to be provided the same information. So, I think that’s one of the big, big things when you think about what accessibility, that you’re really striving for is I like to say it should be the same experience kind of period, right? A lot of times, accessibility can get confused with usability. So that’s one thing where accessibility is everyone should have access and have the same information and process available to them.
Usability, it’s a little bit rougher. It’s more the — how do I explain this — it’s more of your satisfaction, right? So, let’s take word processing apps, right? As an example. There’s a million of them, right? You can go and you can pick the one. They all have basically the same goals, right? But you’re going to find one that works better for you that you like better, you know, maybe one crushes a lot looks not really going to work for us, right, or, you know, it could be anything. Usability is a little bit different because your preference really kind of drives that one a little bit more.
So, how do we define accessibility? And this is really kind of the first line of really thinking about it is whether you are designing, developing, procuring, you know, whatever, you know, you’re doing here is you want to make sure that any mobile application, any digital media, any product can be used with assistive technology. So, this doesn’t mean you’re coding assistive technology, it just means that the application you’re procuring or you’re developing can be used by things like save screen readers or Braille encoders. So there’s a way that those are developed, so they can be easily used through those different technologies.
ROBIN: Yeah. So as we think a little bit about this it starts to come in what are the laws that are in place and as a business, we think about, you know, first kind of what our customers, employees need and want, that’s sort of sits sort of in front of mine hopefully for you, but we can’t forget the law because it’s there and it’s part of what we do every day. For many of us in HR, as we think about accessibility and those things, I’m sure popping into your mind becomes ADA, Americans with Disability Act, and if we think about that, that act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability and employment. So, as we think about this and as we think about people applying, what does that mean? And so this area becomes very gray and Kim’s gonna give us some more great information as we think about this and the guidelines today because, again, I think the legality of this is not as clear-cut as the ADA itself, but one thing here to highlight is the fact that it is — while it’s a guideline, we believe it’s becoming much along the way that people are thinking about GDPR, right?
GDPR is not required in certain countries as it is in others, what does that look like, but we’re seeing it become more standard, more focused, and we start typically — we believe — that there will be more legislation around this and that there will be more constraint. So, how do we get in front of this? How do we get ahead of this without suddenly something saying, “Oh my gosh, I have 18 months to be in compliance with the law,” which for those of you who work in global companies and GDPR hit, right? We were all scrambling to figure out what does it mean, what do I need to do, what am I actually need to do in the letter of the law. And so as we think about this, how do you start to integrate that in and how do you start to think about that a little bit more from again sort of the guideline, not legal side? And so Kim is gonna give us some great history and I think some context as we think about those.
KIM: Definitely, yeah. You know, if you think about the Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973, it wasn’t really until I think 1998 that they added the Section 508, which dealt with technology, right? And products and apps that are out there. It wasn’t, you know, I think it was way after 1973. I mean, and then if you think about 1998, that was a while ago, too. So, if we talk next about what are the guidelines, right? So, there’s laws and there’s guidelines. And the WCAG, which is a Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, it was first published 20 years ago and in the industry, it was kind of a global game changer because it took — it boiled it down a little bit to something that was really attainable and understandable. And the WCAG right now is on its third version and, as you said, it’s kind of the gold standard kind of internationally out there and it was a brain power of two organizations, the World Wide Web Consortium and the Web Accessibility Initiative, came together. And really these guidelines took — you know, we need to be accessible and it really boiled it down for really content developers — content creators, sorry — developers and testers to really understand what that means.
So, they created four guidelines, the first one that we’ll talk about is perceivable. I’ll give some examples to speak out, so we can we have something to hold on to. So, the first one is perceivable, and this is really your most basic level. And we’ll talk about it in the form of a website because I think it’s gonna be easier because, you know, it could be across the board, we could be talking about anything. So, I’ll talk about the form of a website, and the users need to be able to identify what’s there and grasp the information that’s being presented to them. So that means, you know, if you’re a sighted user, you can read it and you can understand what’s being presented to you. If you’re a non-sighted user, then your website can be consumed completely by a screen reader, so it can be read out loud. And say you’re a person maybe with some color sensitivities, you want to make sure that the color contrast on your site, you know, matches some guidelines that the WCAG lays out for you. And if you’re like myself who has glasses, you can zoom in, right? On the text and read the text that’s in there without losing again context of, you know, what’s being implied, you know, what’s being delivered on this webpage.
The second one is operable, which means you need to be able to use it, right? So if it really needs to be navigable by a mouse, you can use a mouse, right? Or your keyboard to be able to tab through it either way. If we think about loading a website, one of the things you want to make sure is that if you’ve got animations or media on there that those can be paused, stopped, restarted, any of those things, and then really another big one for operable is it needs to be forgiving of mistakes, so cancel buttons. If you click on a hyperlink, and you go, “Oh, I don’t really wanna go there,” you can drag off and you’re not actually going to navigate anywhere. So just kind of being a little bit more forgiving as people are operating the website.
Understandable is the third and just because a website is perceivable and operable doesn’t mean as understandable, and that just means that on your site you want clear concise language directions, so people understand especially if the website has got form on it or an application you’re filling out, right? You really wanna make sure that you’ve got directions like how to fill it out, the logical flows make sense, right? First name, last name, e-mail, and you’re not kind of bouncing around all over the place and you really want good labels. And that kind of comes into play like as you’ve got screen readers and things like that that may be consuming your website, you really want to have that additional content for everyone.
Robust is the last one and that one is more in the digital age, so we have a lot of choices, right? So, we just got a website, what browser are you going to use, right? We’ve got Chrome, we’ve got Safari, we’ve got Edge. As a user of your website, I should really be able to choose which one I wanna use and same goes with assistive technologies. There’s lots of options out there for different assistive technologies, and you really want your website to be consumable by most of them, so that people do have that choice as they’re going through it.
BRIANA: Kim, as you went through those things, I mean, I started thinking about how many of those things are important. You know, you mentioned glasses, I probably should be wearing glasses most of the time, so the zoom feature, the ability of like, “Oh my gosh, I totally didn’t mean to hit that,” and kind of thing all becomes important as you kind of start to think about some of these things and as you start to look at those. How did you think about sort of the different situations in which sort of people would start to apply that?
KIM: Yeah, so I think the first thing is really kind of an understanding, right? As you have people with different disabilities really starting to understand what those are and then what the products are that are out there that can assist them in their daily lives, right? And really kind of stepping into those shoes and kind of taking it from there.
BRIANA: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s just it seems like it’s a lot and kind of overwhelming and I think this is a great way kind of breaking it down a bit as we look at some of these different types.
KIM: Yeah, definitely. So, there are, you know, different types of disabilities that you really want to design for. So we’ll take — actually, before we take one as an example, one of the things I want to call out is that when you think about it, is there is — you can have a permanent disability, a temporary one or a situational one, so we’re gonna stick with our example of a website, right? Say you go the website, look one for a job, right? And it’s got an intro video in it, right? Background on the company, something like that. If we choose maybe auditory from this list, you know, a permanent disability could be someone who’s deaf, right? So in that case, they would need closed captions or transcript to be able to consume that video temporary, and I get this all the time, is an ear infection, right? Which is I can’t hear as well as I normally do, so I may want those captions or transcript, right? Situational could be, I’ve started this process maybe on the subway and it’s really loud and I can’t hear, so I’m again going to want that additional content with subtitles and things like that to get me through that video. So as always, you know, I think that’s kind of a big callout is that it’s not there’s multiple levels, right? And then as you can see here, we’ve got visual and physical speech that all, you know, kind of play a part and in different ways you need to design for.
BRIANA: And I think that goes back to your point about designing for everyone. I mean, while this came about because we wanted to be accessible to people with disabilities, this is really about being accessible to everyone like you said. I love, too, that you just talked about the different ways that comes in, you know, whether that permanent, temporary, or situational because I think the impact of that is it’s different to each person, but really to the person who’s sitting there, it’s the most important thing now, right? So, if I’ve gone to your point, if I’m on the subway and I’ve got a long commute, right? And I’m using that to apply and look for jobs or do those other things, if my experience is inhibited by that, that time constraint that I have becomes really important to that. So it’s great to think about the fact that again we probably when, you know, this first came up, I was thinking more of the permanent things and I love how you kind of brought in the temporary and the situational as well to think about the fact of where we are at that point.
ROBIN: So, if we look at this next slide, I mean this, was a staggering statistic as we thought about this. One in five people has a disability that affects their use of the web. And again, I think as we think about this, this is more permanent, so if you get it, if you add in this situational, this starts to blow up even more. And if you think about the power of that, that means 20% of the population on a regular basis may not be buying your products because there’s something that’s inhibiting them to do that. They may not be learning more about your company or applying for jobs, and I think, you know, as we think about this and as I think about organizations that I’ve worked with or, you know, different friends of mine as we’ve talked about this, you know, it’s just got to be interesting. I’ve got to put a video. I’ve got to do all these other things, but I don’t know that we’ve always thought about — because we think reading something can sometimes be cumbersome. We’re boring, but we don’t really think about, well, how do we make those accommodations?
But when we put it in terms of now I’m losing 20% revenue, 20% of our buying, that’s a chunk of revenue that could be there maybe 20%, but it would be some portion of my revenue is going out the door, it is 20% of my customer base, that’s going to impact potentially my Net Promoter Score. And then if you think about your population side of that again, we’re all struggling to find people to fill the jobs that we have and imagine how I’ve just excluded a percentage of those people as well just — I don’t know, again, when we were going through this and saw that number, it was staggering to me that it was that large.
So, as we think about web accessibility, I think the other thing that really should come in mind in particularly when we tie this back to diversity inclusion is, are we creating an inclusive mindset? So, as we as an organization go out and do things, how do we really think about inclusion? And again, this is one of those topics that we probably have a whole sidebar on of what is inclusion, but I think today, as we think about expanding that, I mean, it certainly stacks from our gender and ethnicity and age, right? Or some of the typical things, but thinking about inclusion from a disability standpoint. And again, as Kim pointed out, which I think is really powerful, disability not just in the permanent context, but how do we think about it in the temporary and the situational context as well I think add to that diversity of thought.
So, again, as people become more inclusive in how they think, which should be different, this can also impact. So again perhaps — I was talking to a friend of mine and I’d had a bad customer experience and I’ve shared it with her and I didn’t really think anything about it at this place and we were — I mean, it was probably six months later and we were talking about something. My assumption was, she was still buying from this place and I said something like, “Oh, don’t you go here.” And she said, “No, your story made me so upset, I don’t buy there anymore.”
So, think about the fact that now if I’ve got a friend, she can’t utilize something and they share that it’s not just that 20%. That inclusive environment has grown and now I’ve grown and decided, well, I’m not going to use that website either because it doesn’t suit my friend, so what’s the next thing? Who else is it not including? So, I think it’s really important as we think about that, as we think about our organizations. Additionally, you know, Briana, when she kicked us off, talked about the impact on there, and again study after study shows that being inclusive is better for our business, it’s better for our shareholders, it’s a better return for them, it’s better engagement for both our employees and better customer satisfaction, you know, as we go on. So, all of that becomes very important as we think about this and again this number of impact.
KIM: So, some things to avoid I think when designing for accessibility, so it needs to be designing or even purchasing, you know, procurement. You guys out there really looking for vendors to help you with this is one of the — some of the big items and these are some of the things that the WCAG lines out for you, right? This is why I think a lot of developers and testers and people in the IT field really like the guidelines because they actually give you things to hold on to, right? So, one of the things is, you know, avoid flashing images or text. And if you need to put text on your website, well, just put text, don’t put an image of text because if you think about, again myself with my glasses, right? And me having to zoom in on that page if it’s an image of text, it can distort, right? The higher you get in magnification.
Another one that was just kind of called out in those guidelines is, you know, background music or sounds may be try to avoid them if you have folks who are using a screen reader then they’ve got sounds that start with the website loads as well as a narration from the screen reader, which can be overwhelming or confusing. And then scrolling text unless there’s a way to stop it because, again, everyone kind of reads at different rates, could consume a webpage at different rates, so, you know, let them do the scrolling and get what they need to do. And then the big one is color, so color by itself is usually kind of never a good thing. So, if we take an example is filling out our application online is I forget to fill in my last name or my e-mail address, something that’s required. You know, today we always see it like highlight’s red, you know, you can fill it, but if you’ve got some color sensitivities, you may not see the outline in red so it’s always good to use maybe a symbol and a color, so that if say I had a color sensitivity, I may not see that it’s red, but I may see that exclamation point that’s there, I forgot my e-mail again, right? So, let me go put that in and then I’ll continue on my way.
So, that’s one of the good things and you haven’t read the WCAG. It’s all posted online. It’s great resource to have real-world examples where you take these high levels of, “Okay, I need my product or my application to be accessible,” and, you know, now I’m starting to understand some of the different ways, but what does it actually do? [chuckles] If you’re working with a vendor like what questions really should I ask them as I go through this process or as, you know, maybe a product owner, what do I have to start talking to my development team about, like what are the things we have to start thinking about, and that gives you a really good framework to get started, and it gives you the answers as you go through it, so it’s even better.
BRIANA: I loved that example that you used about filling out an application and the color but also the symbol because as, you know, as you start to think about this, you start to think about is the interest, right? It starts to say, “Is this making my website no longer interesting,” right? “Is it boring?” But I think like thinking about these things in combination really drives that interest. Is that something you’ve seen as you kind of gone and worked through this?
KIM: Absolutely. I think accessibility and usability kind of walk really close together, right? Which is why the lines can get blurry a little bit, but with that same example you’re going through, you know we’ve all done this where you filling out this huge thing, right? And then it’s like you try and hit next and it’s like something’s wrong and you’re like, “I don’t know what it is. It’s not calling it out to me. ” So, you’re gonna scroll back to everything you’ve filled out and it’s like, “Okay, let me go to — maybe it was the line ‘title’ or maybe it was, who knows?” And that’s why it’s so important to make things, easy, right? Accessible for everyone and easy to get through because if not, then you’re gonna start to see people drop off and say, “Yeah, you know, okay, I’ll just try the next one,” And that’s where you can start to see kind of some drop down to your point where if it’s not easy and it’s not accessible, you’re not going to get kind of those large volume of candidates in your process.
BRIANA: Right. I think outlining some of these guidelines is really helpful because while we may not have a lot of software designers or developers on the call, I mean, I imagine you guys are designing experiences for your candidates, for your employees, and that does fall in your realm. And so these are the types of things that you have to be aware of and thinking about, so that when things aren’t designed, you’re able to kind of check for XY and Z and just make sure that it’s accessible to the most amount of people possible.
ROBIN: I think it just goes back, too, as we think about like organizations and changes we’re updating things. Certainly, I’ve seen in working in large organizations, the more collective brief that you start to bring together, right? So, if you think about this, if someone’s doing something from a website even if it’s a customer perspective, right? Great to have maybe somebody from the HR team who’d part of that just sort of have this lens to it, right? Your communications team is gonna have a different lens or marketing team, your IT team. So, imagine if you kind of holistically think about this, you’ve got not only the interest that you’re trying to create, but also how do you make it most accessible for everybody and sort of bringing those groups together? It’s a great learning experience I think as you go through these things and particularly when they’re new, right? Because appreciative of, you know, the WCGA and being able that, but like probably the density of some of that stuff, how do you get different people to be able to go through and really take components of that and bring through and kind of like learning along the way.
BRIANA: So, thinking about what needs to be accessible, a good place to start is to think about what’s most critical to your business. So again, we’ve talked about a lot of things and we’ve got a huge list here. These are all pretty HR centric as we think about it, and that’s probably a lot of you who are on the phone, but really thinking about it and again thinking about being, for those of you who are HR business partners, how do you become a great business partner?
Well, it’s to think about what are those things that are impacting the business. So, is it that really if we think about it, the place that we’ve got most people landing our customers employees and I’ll use Kim’s example of the website, that might be a place to start because you’ve got this coming together of two different groups. And so one of the things too is it helps lend a voice to HR when you go and partner whether that’s your marketing team or your sales team or whoever is really focused on your customer to say, “Hey, here’s some things we’re thinking about from an employee experience. How might these be impacting you as you think about driving customers to our website and so how do we bring that?” That may not be the right thing, but again I think about what’s the most — what is gonna have the most impact on your business because that’s gonna give you the most voice as you think about it. And again, I think it comes back to this great partnership between HR and other organizations. And so how do we kind of still play in our lanes if you will, but also bring through this community and thinking about the business and, you know, I think still so often I hear HR people say, “Hey, how do I have a voice in the business?” Well, here’s a way to think about it and think about what’s important to your organization.
And you’re gonna go through — you’re gonna create a whole list, right? And so then how do you prioritize what those things are and again not doing that in a vacuum is probably a great exercise, I think [clears throat]. The other thing is you go through the priority piece of this is thinking about maybe considering designating someone as a champion. Who’s the champion, right? You certainly need an executive sponsor, but who’s the person from the day-to-day perspective that’s going to do that? And do you have someone in your organization who’s impacted by some of these things and do they help challenge or help champion through that in general, right? We talked about development all the time. This is one of the great projects that becomes a development assignment. I don’t know, Kim. You kind of got this assigned to you. Do you feel developed after having gone through it?
KIM: I do. I feel like, you know, you learn a lot, but like the learning never stops, right? So, there was something new like what we’re talking about the other day like, you know, listening to another podcast again, right? Because, you know, the other one has been released like you’re always kind of growing. And I think that’s where a champion or multiple champions really within your organization can really play a huge part is because they can start kind of spreading that education, right? Because a lot of folks, you know, good or bad, they may not be thinking about it. We talked a lot about websites and apps and, you know, things you may be building or procuring, but there’s other things out there too like the PowerPoint I just created or the marketing materials I’m about to distribute, like accessibility drops even those that are so digital artifacts, but, you know, they dropped down lower in really all aspects of the business so having folks there to kind of guide that education through the rest of the organization and bring it to the forefront of everyone. So, as they’re starting to make decisions or start projects, accessibility is really one of the things that always gets talked about. It’s not an after, it doesn’t come at the end, you really wanna weave it into the beginning and throughout the whole process.
ROBIN: Kim, you kind of talked about some of those things just thinking about when you said PowerPoint in thinking about where to start, right? What a great and sort of simple way to start the conversation. What does that look like, you know, and I think we’ve all been in those meetings where one of two things happen, right? It looks beautiful, but no one can read the font that’s on there from the back of the room, so everyone starts walking the front. Or the font size, right? Because we’ve decided to put every piece of content on there so how are we looking at that and start. It’s just a really simple way to start to think about that as an organization.
KIM: Yeah, absolutely.
BRIANA: Yeah. This is a question that came up as we were preparing for this webinar, which is well if everything needs to be accessible, everything your candidates and your employees will ever touch in your organization, it becomes really massive and really overwhelming. And I think the takeaway here is that baby steps are good. Baby steps are better than nothing, so as long as you’re going in the right direction, you’re on the right track.
ROBIN: So, the cost of not being accessible, I mean, we’ve got several things up here and as you can see from this slide and the conversation, this cost really impacts your organization financially. So again, if I think about this, if I’m not getting customers driving towards my products or things like that, then that’s a financial component. It’s also a financial component to not filling your jobs, right? If we think about this in the critical jobs, if you can’t, for example, in a manufacturing environment, if you’re not filling jobs, you may not be running a line, which means you may not be up to full production. If you’re not up to full production, then that’s kind of revenue impact, right? So that cost — and we talk, you know, constantly in HR — the cost of not filling a job and what does that look like. And so, I think that becomes important to you. So, how do you maximize your revenue from a brand perspective. Again, that’s to our customers, it’s to our employees, it’s to our candidates and really thinking about that accessibility although not overtly with a big flashing sign that says, “I care, it shows you care,” right? Because you’re thinking about how easy — really what you think about, “How easy was this to you?” “Gosh, that application process was really simple. I didn’t have to go back. I’m looking for a job. I’ve applied for 15 jobs today and really this one was very easy.” If I get 15 calls, how am I gonna prioritize that, right? What does that look like? What does that think about as you look at it?
And I think, you know, still thinking about the whole, you know, kind of whole as you think about the brand, that leads into your culture though, right? And so, is that that divisive, that part about being an inclusive culture are you creating belonging and again, that culture is internally with your organization, but it’s also do you create a culture of belonging where your customers feel like they belong, right? This need to kind of create experiences both for our employees and our customers and we want belonging as we go through that experience and we come there and candidates. I mean, I think the greatest thing is to have candidates walk away and say, “I’m really disappointed. I didn’t get that job, but man, that’s a great company. I’m gonna go tell somebody else,” and have that good story. I talked about my story of saying too, and again, I didn’t post this on social media, I just said to a friend why I’m not doing business with this company anymore and that was a choice she made. Imagine if my anger had hit the point of, “I’m going to type this on social media, what does that do?” So again, how do you kind of create that piece of it.
And again, then from a legal perspective and again today while there are some legal components to this as we think about ADA, I think we see more of this coming and so how do you kind of just sort of knock that out of the picture. I’m really focused again. If think about growing your organization and what’s important, you know, really we want to focus more on culture, brand, and financial. Those become sort of more interesting components than to have to kind of think about what is it that I have to do from a legal perspective.
BRIANA: Yeah. And I really like that you brought culture into the conversation because it’s the showpiece. You know, you can talk all day about diversity being important to your company but this is really one way to show, to prove that you’re putting in some effort there.
KIM: Absolutely. I think as people are looking for new opportunities and take us back to hiring, right? It’s the good stories that really kind of will engage other people to be like, “Hey, you know, I work for this company and this is what our culture is like,” and, “Hey, we have these open positions,” or even down to, “I like this job. I may not have gotten the job, but it was an amazing experience going through the application process, the interview process, and getting to know folks and kind of having nice cohesive process.” And then saying, “I didn’t get the job, but hey go check them out,” right? And even though you didn’t get it, you’re still kind of sending that good story along. We’ve all gotten bad stories, but to keep sending those good stories.
ROBIN: And I think to that point, I mean, I think if we think about from a talent acquisition perspective, right? We still kind of think and, I mean, I use the example of going on and applying for jobs. I think really for a lot of us, we’re struggling to get people to apply for our jobs. So, what are those barriers when you finally go out and if you think about if you are in the recruiting field or even if you know someone is. I’ve gone out. I’ve worked really hard. I’ve spent my time cultivating a relationship with Kim to get her interested in my organization because that’s the person I really want and then I say to her, “Great, we’re so excited to have you, you know, that you are considering us. If you don’t mind just filling out this application or doing something, going to our website and checking this out.” If she goes to that after all of that effort and now, she’s not able to access it in a way that feels good, she’s looking for reasons to screen me out. I’m looking for reasons to screen her in, and so how do we really make sure again those passive candidates and become really interested in us and sort of see the value in that.
BRIANA: So, I’d love for everyone on the call to take a moment to type in any questions that you have. And while you’re thinking about what you’d want to ask of Robin and Kim, this is a question, you know, that I had, which is how do you measure accessibility or how do you even find out how well you’re doing because this is a journey. How do you know where you are in the journey?
KIM: I think the big callout again this is a journey. It doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t stop either. It’s not like, ‘Oh, I’m completely accessible, now,’ right? Because our process changes. Our applications that we’re using as part of the process change, things like that. So it’s super ongoing, so I think kind of measuring it in small pieces and really kind of looking for as, say you’re starting your project, right? And again, “Rebecca, oh my gosh, where do I start?” Right? Pick the ones that have the most impact, right? So if you think about your hiring process, then maybe it is the application portion of it that’s a place to start because then you get folks through the door, but then also measuring it to make sure how’s my whole journey, right? From I step through the application process to the end to the interviews, the acceptance letters hopefully, right? And then even into everyday life at work, it really started as, you know, putting a nice Candyland roadmap up there for yourself, you know, as a way to envision it and, you know, and step your way through and start kind of, you know, checking off areas that you’ve really had a chance to address.
ROBIN: I think — I mean, think about it. You’ve got your employees, you’ve got your customers, why not start asking for some feedback, right? If you’re making these small changes, going back to those people that, you know, that are being impacted, what are they saying? What’s the feedback that’s coming back to you, if we think about, you know, again, I’ll kind of stick with since you started with the website journey, let’s just continue on, right? You’ve got measures on metrics that you’d look at for click-through and things like that, is that increasing? Is it staying the same? Is it decreasing, right? There may be other factors. It’s not a sole one, but it’s certainly an influencer as you think about some of those things and what’s looking particularly if you’ve gone through and tried to do all this work and suddenly if you’re not seeing the same traction, what’s happened along the way is probably a question to ask yourself. But again, really using those channels that you have as you go through and I think it’s great, you know, some organizations have employee resource groups and so you might have one of them in particular. Think about this might be something they’re passionate about. Again, thinking about ways how do you make this interesting? Well, how do you engage other people? How do you connect? How do you again look for different ways around development opportunities for people to think about that could be a great one?
KIM: And then there’s also vendors out that that will go in and help you start this process, help you though this process right there. Their lives are their accessibility, right? You can go in and take a look at your application, take a look at the website that you have and they can start to say, “Hey, here are the places you’re doing great,” right? “And keep doing these things, but here are some things that you need to address.” And they really kind of guide you through that process and those companies are out there and they’re great because they really help you if you don’t know where to start and you need someone to help walk you through the process. They get you up, they get you educated, and they will get you moving on your journey.
BRIANA: And I really like what you said about you’re never really done. I mean, just thinking about some of the disabilities we talked about and the temporary situations and the permanent situations, I mean, it starts with kind of widening your perspective because a lot of this is invisible to someone that doesn’t have that sort of challenge. You’re not seeing it. You’re gonna make some accessibility changes, enhancements, and your website’s probably not gonna look any different. And this is where you really engage people, groups, even get feedback on how well you’re doing because it may not be obvious and you’re not really gonna get to an end that says we’re 100%, we did a great job, now we can move on to something else, right?
I wanted to quickly go through some of the questions that are asked of us because I think this is really helpful as you think about engaging with your own partner or your own vendor partners because there’s no clear-cut, you know, “I am X percent accessible. I’ve done a great job. I’m certified in something.” You have to find another way to give that information. So I just threw up a couple questions that we get asked: What have you done towards accessibility? Can you show me your progress? And what are you working on? So I just wanted to share that with everybody so that you have starting point for some of the questions that you can ask of your own vendors.
ROBIN: I think that’s important, right? That you’re asking those questions and really understanding where this fits into the vendor perspective, right? As you’re going through it, just, I mean, for those of you who are in the land of RFPs and doing these. I know there’s probably already a lot of questions that you’re sorting through and kind of consolidate, but this becomes really important I think as we think about that.
KIM: Yeah, it does, and it goes back to the journey because if you’ve got vendors, you’re doing a vendor selection, right? And you ask those questions on everyone. I think what’s most important is that you’re finding the vendors no matter where they are on their journey, they’re on that journey, right? And they’ve started it so — you know, and then they’ll, you know, they won’t stop there, right? So, they’ll talk where they are, what they’ve done so far, and maybe what’s coming next because again it doesn’t end, right? So, making sure your vendors are out there or people you are selecting to kind of help you work you through are kind of just as passionate about its accessibility as you are.
BRIANA: Yeah. It looks like we’ve got a couple questions coming in, so get those questions in. I want to quickly share a client story of ours because accessibility is very focused on making sure that the technology you’re using doesn’t create barriers to candidates or employees in your company, I think it’s also important to talk about how technology can improve diversity beyond being accessible or WCAG compliant. So, you have this this goal that you want to be at it’s kind of threshold for making sure that people have access, but then is there a world beyond that where you can, not just people access, but actually really improve some of those numbers?
So, here’s a great example from a client of ours. They’re a really large BPO that provides customer engagement services to some of the biggest retail, financial services, healthcare, and tech brands in the world. They started using our pre-hire assessment in their call centers to help identify and fast-track top talent in their applicant pool, and they saw improvements in quality of hire, which is what they expected, but the coolest part was that they also saw an increase in diversity. My favorite stat from their data before implementing our assessment, 20% of the company’s hires were African American and a year later, African American hires had increased to 35%. During that year, our assessment helped them hire teams or helped their hiring teams at more factors like race that aren’t related to job success and instead see an objective, apples to apples view of each candidate. What I really love about the story is that it didn’t take a big expensive multi-year initiative to achieve greater diversity. It was just an objective piece of software that they implemented in their hiring process.
So, I just wanted to share that story so that everyone can think about, you know, the other ways to improve diversity after you start or continue to move through your accessibility journey.
ROBIN: I think if we tie that kind of story back to accessibility and you think about this there’s sort of these, you know, probably perhaps, right? There’s some unconscious bias that sort of gets eliminated as you go through this process and I think that’s sort of the same thing as we think about accessibility. So, if I’m interested in your organization, if we’ve gone this way and I’ll go back to the part of where Kim and I’ve been having this conversation and I’m trying to get her to come to my organization and she’s kind of now starting to become a little bit in, if she’s now got to come to me and say, “Hey, this is great, but I can’t access your website or I can’t follow through application. I’ve got some of these things.” And again, those are things that maybe I would not have known about her. Do those things start to come in and become a bit of unconscious bias is what you start to worry about from that perspective. And so being able to have some data and tools that allow you to kind of eliminate that or to be able to have the right setup really helps as you kind of start to go through it sort of like kind of this story, well not kind of around accessibility can certainly go back to the topic of today, too.
BRIANA: Yeah. Sol I’ve got a question here. When using apps like Facebook, Snapchat, and Tik-Tok to recruit Millennials, how can we make sure we’re being accessible friendly?
KIM: So, I think most on Facebook, all those guys, they’re well on their way on their accessibility journey, I assumed, right? They’re large enough so really just kind of — there’s a couple things you can do. There are tools out there where you can say load up Facebook and take a look at it and it looks at it real quick and says, “Oh, you know, these things are done well. You know, these things may not be done well.” There’s things you can do yourself, you know, say “We’ll just keep talking about Facebook,” right? But on Facebook, you load it up on the mobile app on your mobile phones. All your mobile phones have those screen readers on them and you can actually just turn this screen reader on and let it read through the page and you just kind of step back and listen, right? A lot of times, I have to turn away. I have to turn away from what I’m looking at and just listen, It doesn’t make sense if someone navigate through it. Sol there’s something you can do it yourself to kind of take a look at it, but really reach out to these companies. A lot of them will blog their way through these journeys as well so other folks can learn from them, but reach out, talk about it, start those conversations because those are the conversations you really want to get started.
ROBIN: So, is it fair then to say as you’re going through and buying these tools to utilize for, right? Because there’s all some costs to some of this usually, but that you could ask your sales rep or whoever, “Please talk to us about your accessibility journey.”
BRIANA: I think that’s really helpful and that goes back to your Candyland journey a little bit, which some of this is just walking through it yourself, right? And I think we talked about that a lot in terms of candidate experience but really through the lens of accessibility kind of brings new life to it.
We’re right at time and I wanted to let everybody know that I chatted in the SHRM activity ID so that you can use that code to go get your professional development credit. Any last thoughts from you Kim and Robin? Maybe like a 20-second takeaway for everyone on the call today.
KIM: Okay, I’ll go first. I think it’s a lot of people were just at the beginning of their journey, right? Sol the first thing is don’t get overwhelmed. There’s a lot of resources out there. There’s a lot of folks who have already started their journeys and they love to talk about it like we do here. And sol don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Don’t be afraid to get started and just remember, small changes every day are going to lead up to these big changes and these big improvements to ensure that your process is more inclusive. So just it’s kind of one of those things that just start and just keep going on that journey.
ROBIN: I was gonna say be patient, I think on that, and then use the community that you’ve got available to you. So again, I mean, thinking about your organization, your customers, those friends that you have, how do you help include them in the process to really provide you that feedback is as a way I’d say thinking about it.
BRIANA: Yeah. Thank you so much, Robin. Thank you, Kim. This was really helpful. I hope everybody on the call got a lot of value out of our discussion today. I hope to see everyone back next month for the future work webinar series. Thank you.