A friend who does a lot of work with charities tells me how businesses need to recognise the importance of being accessible – ‘We live in a diverse world … there’s people with disabilities, people from different cultures, speaking different languages – if businesses aren’t consciously making themselves accessible, they shut themselves off from thousands of potential customers.’
Apparently savvy organisations are setting budgets aside specifically for becoming more accessible.
I see the business sense in this. As I sit listening to her, I start to wonder how accessible I am.
Do people feel like they can approach me? Does my communication style cater for all different types of people from different walks of life? Am I the kind of person that others want to connect with, work with, do life with?
Or am I stuck in my ways, like some sluggish corporate, following the same old systems and processes that only work for the repeat customers who have been with me from the beginning.
Just like a cold, bureaucratic corporate, we as individuals often have a tendency to shut ourselves off from anything or anyone we don’t understand.
I want to be accessible.
I want there to be a friendly ‘Welcome!’ sign out, a universally understood smile on my face that makes people feel like they can ask me for a favour, ask me for directions, talk to me about their issues and concerns.
There’s a flow-on affect – as we open ourselves up and consciously operate in a way that’s accessible to those around us, it impacts the way we do business, the way our governments operate, the way our schools teach.
The world becomes open to everyone; no matter who they are, where they’re from, and what they struggle with.
But it starts with us – with you, with me.
We have to learn to change our approach, be aware of others needs, have an openness in what we do and say, so that slowly, we can: