Improving business with JEDI: justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion

How inclusion, equity and diversity should be common sense in business.

For our third Impact Talk, Board of Innovation reached out to Thandi Dyani, Head of Partnerships at Girls Are Awesome. This Copenhagen-based Community, Brand and Impact Agency strives to amplify women’s voices across all echelons of society – especially in business. It has an impressive track record, working for brands such as Adidas, Mercer and Brooklyn Brewery.

Time to delve into their comprehensive JEDI approach to their role as an agency with gender equality and inclusion setting the tone, and to find out how we can harness this mindset to deliver better results through our own operations.

The main question: bolstering our clients' impact

So, how could the expertise of an agency focused on creating products, experiences and content to boost gender equality and positive impact enhance innovation projects and the market research that goes with them? 

Which insights could we learn from to improve representation in business operations and user testing – and strengthen our clients’ impact in the process?

Tapping into the community insights of Girls Are Awesome

First of all, Girls Are Awesome builds on an online community of over 200,000 people, comprised of Gen Z’ers, Millennials and beyond. A community that is hard to engage, holds brands to high standards, and is demanding when it comes to authenticity and justice. 

Let there be no doubt: this demographic group holds strong economic power, driving over 70% of all consumer purchasing decisions on the market. Bouncing ideas off this group is incredibly valuable. It leads to campaigns that strive not only to promote products, but also to impact real-life people and communities for the better.

JEDI: a framework for starting a meaningful – and necessary – conversation

The foundation of their work is the power of JEDI. Sounds intergalactic, but it’s really an acronym for Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, the crucial drivers behind achieving meaningful change and impact. 

It’s all about starting and driving a conversation through brands and campaigns, challenging the idea of what “normal” is by making it more diverse, and creating positive impact for society and the people in it. Realizing that one size does not fit all is the first step. It’s not just the right thing to do: it’s also good for business. It’s the only way to create relevant products, achieve meaningful innovation, attract talent, and communicate authentically with customers. 

Integrating Justice, equity, diversity and inclusion into business operations… How?

Back to the core question of this Impact Talk: how can businesses harness this philosophy to diversify and create greater relevance for their own operations?

Or more specifically: how can companies focussed on user testing projects and market research use JEDI reach a higher level of inclusion in their projects, screening and selection processes? Should we use diversity as a screening requirement when recruiting consumers or participants for research and testing? And if so, how do we go about it?

4 key takeaways for improving diversity

Thandi identified several areas for improvement. Let’s zoom in on 4 key takeaways for better attracting diverse profiles to your organization.

1. Keep communication open

As the ones receiving the applications, it pays off to analyse and select candidates taking diversity into consideration. You know your project requires a degree of representation. Don’t narrow it down too much when sending out application forms or communication. 

2. Analyse the pre-selection process

Analyse the pre-selection process: what do you write, which terms are you using to target your group, is the language maybe offensive or ambiguous, or is the timing of a certain task or assignment bound to put off women, for example, because in most households they’re still the ones taking the kids to school or picking them up afterwards?

There’s a wide range of factors to consider that can influence the response you’ll get from minority groups. Review your standard application, whatever its format. Find the words that maximize chances of attracting the group you’re targeting.

3. Keep your JEDI glasses on every step of the way

Have this philosophy in mind throughout the entire process, and continuously ask yourself whether your words, your way of working or your operations are fit to attract groups that deserve representation.

4. just talk

If you’re experiencing problems with attracting minority groups for your testing panel or market research, just go out and talk to someone from that group. Ask them what they need. Learn from them. Communication is the key to understanding desires, expectations and needs – use it.

Creating positive impact in a few small steps

So, which small steps can help businesses put on those JEDI glasses? Girls Are Awesome had a pretty clear roadmap.

First of all, challenge privilege, bias and ideas. Remember that representation matters, and that normality isn’t a monolithic concept. You might feel uncomfortable having your ideas challenged, but listen deeply and be transparent. Apply simple principles in your work to integrate the JEDI mindset.

Using JEDI to improve business impact

By authentically driving the conversations that are shaping the world around us, brands can create better products and take a more valuable position in society. Board of Innovation for one, is committed to improving its own operations by adapting a JEDI mindset while recruiting for market research and user testing.

After all, it’s the way forward to improve our clients’ impact.

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