Support for accessibility is happening on multiple fronts. World leaders and activists are more frequently discussing accessibility topics during the pandemic—including who has access to vaccines, vaccine passports and who is allowed into certain countries.
We’ve also seen how the “QueerTok” subcommunities on TikTok have helped women realize they were queer by creating an opportunity to exist in a queer space or by reading the lesbian master doc. This has given them the courage to reimagine their lives and come out with the support of a new community.
TikTok is also responsible for the further democratization of social media, giving power to creators to not only decide how they show up and work with brands but opening up the creator space to all.
People are no longer interested in buying into a facade. They want authenticity in a new way, one that doesn’t rely on keeping anyone in the dark. Because for accessibility to truly be embraced, everyone needs to know the playing field. This is why, for instance, Productivity TikTok videos have gained popularity across all age groups.
Accessibility has driven success across all business sectors. In television and media, we are seeing shows, including the inclusive “Abbott Elementary,” reach unprecedented success—due to not just the quality of the content, but the intentionality behind Quinta Brunson insisting that the show be on a network where everyone can watch it. It clearly paid off—the show was the first ABC comedy to quadruple ratings since its original airing.
In fashion, unisex “it” label Telfar has challenged the reseller model that relies on scarcity to drive profit, launching its “Secure the Bag” program, allowing anyone to buy their iconic bags for 48 hours, without having to worry about them selling out.
When it comes to the future of the new normal we’re creating each day, accessibility is the arbiter of what lives and dies in business and in culture. We’re already seeing how this takes shape for brands and businesses in what economists and the media have termed the Great Resignation—people haven’t suddenly become unwilling to work, they have grown more informed on what they want and don’t want their work life to look like.
In addition to the pandemic, accessibility has also been expanded by newly accessible information-sharing happening across social media—from recruiters and hiring managers sharing how to break into new industries to departing employees sharing their salaries so companies can fairly live up to newcomers’ expectations.
Some companies are rising to the occasion, while others risk of losing it all. Google, for example, created a certificate program that removes the barrier of higher education, opening up the world of tech to people previously unable to secure such an opportunity.
While not every company has the ability to create a program like this, it sets a new bar for what is expected of employers in support of the accessibility shift. Here are three ways companies can create more accessibility in the workplace:
Less pay ambiguity. Clearer pay philosophies.
Pay transparency isn’t enough to remedy this issue. Do the work of explaining not just what you pay your employees, but why your pay structure is the way it is. If you can’t back up your pay structure with industry norms, then it’s time to change your pay structure.
Fewer shallow work perks. More allowing people to show up as themselves.
People aren’t easily swayed by endless snacks anymore. They want to know that your organization is a place where they can be themselves and voice their opinions. Create an inclusive workplace culture, and don’t rely on telling recruits you're just like a family.
Fewer backroom channels. More open doors.
Recruiting from the same places, while publicly saying you support diversity, isn’t going to cut it anymore. Open your doors to people with different backgrounds to gain the benefits of diverse perspectives.
The demand for accessibility is only going to increase. Eyes have been opened, and no one will accept any backsliding. Move forward with culture and embrace accessibility in everything you do.
Don’t miss the latest news. Sign up for Ad Age newsletters here.