Why Accessibility Should be in Your Company D&I Strategy

Cluen - Why Accessibility Should be in Your Company D&I Strategy

As critical pieces of company strategy, Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) each take on different meanings that work together to deliver on a broader vision of affording opportunities to all. Diversity stands for recognizing the diverse background and strengths of each individual and inclusion supports the goal that every employee feels understood and valued. Every company has the corporate responsibility to understand the root causes of their D&I gaps, and disability, and therefore accessibility, often goes overlooked.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a global initiative comprised of a set of recommendations created to make web content more accessible primarily for people with disabilities, on all user agents including highly limited devices such as mobile phones. At their best, companies that meet WCAG standards allow everyone to work to their full potential, whatever their disability. For example, someone using a wheelchair is only disabled when accessing a building with no ramp. Similarly, an employee with a visual impairment can access a web-based and mobile-friendly CRM database if it is built and tested to meet the industry guidelines of assistive technologies, like Cluen’s solution Encore Max.

D&I is extremely important in executive search. A recent survey that Cluen conducted showed 47% of respondents’ firms track diversity as a reporting metric in their executive search database. Diversity efforts include broader representation of gender, ethnicity, orientation and disability. Business leaders know that attracting and retaining executive talent is a top priority in order to deliver value to all stakeholders. In today’s business climate, leaders must leverage the full spectrum of talent to maximize strategic growth and innovation. The Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants (AESC) and its members are rigorously committed champions of D&I within their own organizations, with candidates and the clients they serve, and in their communities. This is why the AESC and its members have come together to advance an AESC Diversity Pledge, which spells out that commitment and shows ongoing actions to deliver on that promise. As trusted advisors, AESC Members know first-hand how diverse talent and inclusive cultures offer organizations a competitive edge. As a longstanding premier partner of AESC, Cluen shares this mission, and as an AESC-vetted provider to the executive search profession, Cluen delivers this same competitive edge to search firms.

Cluen’s commitment to D&I and adherence to WCAG 2.1 standards include our efforts to support search teams around the world in their data work around diversity, as well as special projects we support such as Global Board Ready Women (GBRW) and specific technology initiatives that enable our tools to be used by team members with vision and mobility impairments (critical for D&I, but also for regulatory compliance). As Cluen has done, we enable our customers to lead by example when it comes to D&I.

How will this benefit executive search firms?

  • Compliance
    Built and tested to meet WCAG 2.1 guidelines to protect your customers from ADA liability and create more inclusive opportunities for your firm.
  • Accountability
    Delivering on your client promise that the product is in line with your firm’s vision and their ultimate business goals. A simple way to ‘walk the walk’ and back up your vision emphasizing diversity and inclusion.
  • Accessibility
    Opening more opportunities to bring on talent that would normally not be able to use the system that supports them.
  • Commitment: Demonstrating your promise to deliver through D&I and become a preferred provider to your clients.

How will this benefit the clients of search firms?

  • Client Portal
    Clients can now receive accessible status reports from their search firm partners via Encore Max. Clients can ensure that candidates with special needs can get through the general firewall that is the executive recruiter.
  • Compliance
    Meets your compliance goals of being built and tested to the WCAG 2.1 standards and therefore works seamlessly with industry standard assistive technologies.

Executive search data systems should support tracking and reporting diversity within the main functionality, as Cluen does. Each firm should consult with their legal counsel on the best way to collect and store this data within their mandates. Cluen’s Survey module (Q4 2021) supports direct data collection from candidates and clients for the best tracking and reporting yet. This supports self-identification as well as other top metric values such as client and candidate satisfaction.

It is apparent that, even when not required for the search, having clear priorities for diversity and transparency of results only helps in winning and retaining customers.

Cluen recognizes that accessibility—as an integral part of any D&I strategy—is an ongoing mission, and continues to be diligent in both initial development and quality assurance to identify areas of improvement that not only meet the WCAG 2.1 guidelines today but commits to moving the needle for tomorrow. It isn't enough to simply meet these guidelines but to be forever diligent on learning how a user’s journey flows most optimally when using assistive technology and Encore Max.

The D&I conversation is essential in the future of shaping inclusive leaders and building structural inclusion and processes.