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Dig Deeper to Diversify #ADA

In this blog Mel Larsen reminds us of the layers that underpin the Audience Diversity Academy.

If you are working in an organisation that has been exclusive of certain audiences or has been perceived as ‘not for me’ by large sections of society, when you commit to diversifying your audiences you are embarking on a journey of change that is likely to go a lot deeper and require much more of you than you initially expected.

A long-established organisation has a known way of operating that is effective in relation to the audiences they already attract. But when you start thinking about the needs of new audiences you have to think and act differently and that can often impact you as an individual as well as a team and a brand.

This is a journey where mindset and strategy are intertwined. What often begins as a conversation in the Marketing department (or if you’re lucky, at CEO level) can take you also to into the realms of Leadership, Psychology, History, Language and Power.

You may start by wondering why your organisation doesn’t attract ‘Audience X’ and end up digging into the history of why ‘Audience X’ has been historically and systematically under-valued or ignored and how that seeps into modern-day consciousness and what you are going to do about it.

For example, you may start by looking at why exactly is the information for your audiences with disabilities so sparse and hidden away on your website? You may even find yourself digging deeper and exploring for example how people with disability were grossly treated and even feared in previous centuries and how that still significantly impacts language, attitudes and access today.

There is so much for us all to learn: there are nine protected characteristics in the UK – age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation – plus socio-economic status is a key factor to consider, especially now that UK poverty is rising and there are many, many other facets of identity and access to consider too.

Within the safe, supportive space of the Audience Development Academy, delving into this rich diversity makes for a fascinating and enlightening conversation for all concerned. I am always inspired by how the participants jump in fully, ready to learn and challenge both themselves and others. As their blogs show, the results they achieve show this is a journey worth taking.