Embracing diversity is good business

front cover of the report. Black background with a neon sign in red saying open. Embracing diversity is good business.The Human Rights Commission’s report, Missing Out: The business case for customer diversity raises two questions: can organisations afford to ignore the diversity of their customer base? And, what impact will this have over time? The research shows that organisations that are inclusive and embracing diversity find it’s good for business.

According to the report, around 28% of complaints received by the Commission in 2015-16 alleged discrimination by businesses. These allegations were based on sex, age, race, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity. The report does more than cite customer complaints. It provides a way forward for organisations that want to do more than comply with the law.  

Organisations that have embraced diversity in their workforce are generally in a better position to consider diversity in their customer base. So it seems workforce diversity might be a good first step. You can download the report in PDF or Word from Human Rights Commission webpage.

“Missing out highlights the benefits of treating customer diversity and inclusion as a strategic priority. Further, it articulates a way forward for those organisations seeking to take advantage of a proactive approach beyond ensuring compliance with discrimination laws.”

Editor’s note: I notice that the Commission’s report uses the term “organisations” rather than “businesses”. No doubt the public service and not for profit sectors are not immune from complaints.

Achieving full participation through UD

Achieving participation through UD front coverA European report sets the scene for promoting universal design and setting an action plan in motion. It promotes a universal design (UD) approach as a strategy to ensure equal and democratic rights in society for all individuals. It covers participation in: political and public life; cultural life; information and communication; education; employment; the built environment; transport; community living; legal protection; research and development; and awareness raising.

Examples of good practice are also included. It links well with the eight domains of life outlined in the WHO Age Friendly Cities and Communities program.

The title of the report is Achieving full participation through Universal Design.

Nordic Charter for Universal Design

UD logoThis article will be of interest to policy makers and anyone else interested in furthering universal design principles across all aspects of society. Using the 2012 UD Conference in Oslo as a catalyst, the Nordic countries worked together to create a common goal and strategy for dealing with the challenges of an ageing population as well as meeting their obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability. Although published as an academic article in the Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, it is informative in the way it covers the built environment, products, services, and ICT.  

You will need institutional access for a free read, or request a copy from authors on ResearchGate. 

Universal Design: Is it Accessible?

A blank sheet of paper with an eraser, two pencils and a light globe. Universal Design, is it accessible?This opinion piece, Universal Design: Is it Accessible? critiques the 7 Principles of Universal Design. Several aspects of universal design are questioned including the terminology and inherent difficulties in understanding the concepts. Jane Bringolf argues that the 7 Principles of Universal Design are not themselves universally designed. 

The article was published by Multi:The RIT Journal of Plurality and Diversity in Design. It is also available on ResearchGate

The article was written in 2008 before the 8 Goals of Universal Design were devised by Steinfeld and Maisel in 2012. These goals have a more practical focus. More recently, the concept of universal design has evolved to embrace diversity and inclusion in their broadest sense.

The beginnings of the universal design movement are attributed to Ron Mace, a polio survivor who went on to be an architect. 

Abstract

Designing products and environments to be usable by the majority of people is the underpinning concept of universal design. In some aspects, however, universal design fails to meet some of its own principles. This has resulted in a lack of understanding of the concept, which in turn, has allowed the terms “accessibility” and “disability” to inhabit the language of universal design. Consequently, universal design is bounded by concepts of accessibility, regulations and disability rights, rather than the intellectual challenges inherent in designing for the whole of the population bell curve.

The universal design movement recognizes that making headway is proving difficult and is seeking ways to improve its position. Market research, however, indicates universal design is branded as a disability product and this has implications for consumers, practitioners, and for the universal design movement in general. Discussed are the influence of terminology on the direction and perceptions of universal design, and the dilemmas of applying a regulatory framework as an implementation strategy.

 

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