Equality + diversity = quality

January 18, 2018

A lot of companies are jumping on the #metoo bandwagon. Or the LGBTQ bandwagon. Or both.

Which is all nice and good, but consider that it is not really a bandwagon. It should be recognition of the fact, that the more diverse the crowd, the more equal everyone is, the better the decisions that will be made by them and for them.

Multiple points of view balance the various needs and opinions and leads to reasonable compromises that everyone can live with. In business situations, it creates an environment of inclusion, where everyone feels listened to and valuable. Which creates engagement and builds loyalty. Plus it makes the organisation nimble, because more people are able to contribute and make strategically sound decisions without everything getting stuck in the bottle neck of the boss’ calendar.

In service design, the development of services is best done in a format of co-creation where multiple stakeholder viewpoints are effectively represented and considered in development of the new and improved service. Most of our customer groups include a broad interest group. Why then should the team making the service be limited to just one or two insular opinions? Let alone be made by people who never use it in the same manner as some customers will?

Co-creation for services with people you never meet in real life can be a real eye-opener. It also leads to innovation in areas you didn’t even know were important, just because you never used it that way. Co-creation creates empathy for other people, other understanding, other life situations, that otherwise may be invisible because it’s just not your life.

Empathy is the “secret” ingredient to effective service design. However, more empathy everyday is also the best way to understand the #metoo movement, if you’re a person in power (more often than not, a man), or how frustrating having your sexuality defined for you is, if you don’t fit in prescribed traditional narrative. Empathy allows you to feel what it’s like, which also allows you to react and understand the impact that your own behaviour has on others.

Empathy is also the most powerful design tool. It allows service providers to see and feel the impact of their service, and to improve it, all for the benefit of creating more value for all stakeholders. By improving the customer experience, business can increase customer loyalty, reduce costs and improve word-of-mouth between customers. And by actively engaging all stakeholders in the process, you can as a side-effect, also improve equality and diversity.

Equality and diversity in business have been proven to deliver better returns that mono-cultural environments, while being more responsive to changing customer and employee habits. In short, it delivers better quality for everyone. Not bad for something that is hailed as a revolution, but should in fact be established common sense.