According to Gallup, “more than an estimated 10 million adults now identify as LGBT in the U.S. today, approximately 1.75 million more compared with 2012.” In honor of this year’s Pride Month, consider how your brand is doing in terms of inclusivity, and what it’s doing to ensure greater reach and impact among potentially marginalized audiences. And double bonus — when a brand creates more inclusive messaging, the reach and impact can stretch beyond the target group(s): “Research by GLAAD and P&G in the US has shown that audiences exposed to more inclusive advertising are more likely to support equal rights for LGBTQ+ people, so we really can make a difference,” says Jerry Daykin, a senior media director at GSK Consumer Healthcare. Reaching underrepresented audiences is not only vital to marketing success – and even presents an opportunity to connect with new audiences – it’s the right thing to do for patients. But all too often, brands aren’t even aware of their missteps.

Inclusivity Assessments: The What and Why
An inclusivity assessment is a comprehensive, cross-disciplinary evaluation of a brand’s ecosystem against a wide range of inclusivity metrics. It seeks to unearth the points of view of audiences that were previously ignored to ensure a brand expresses itself in ways that are reflective and respectful of its target audience.

Thinking inclusively means elevating insights on patient, caregiver, and HCP demographics that make sense for your brand and its disease state, and offering solutions based upon those insights. To do that, you must know which insights are relevant. For example, last year, GSK worked with publication Gay Times on an LGBTQ+ awareness campaign for oral health. For its collaboration with GSK, Gay Times noted that “LGBTQ+ people are more likely to smoke and so their risk of oral infections are higher. … Then there’s the issue of LGBTQ+ people suffering from higher rates of STIs, which can lead to oral infections. Elsewhere, trans people may self-medicate with hormone treatment bought online, and some HRT medication can cause oral health problems.”

That’s where activities like an inclusivity assessment come in: structured, required parts of the work designed to help teams overcome their blind spots and accurately understand how best to help their brand.

What’s an Underrepresented Audience?
In this context, underrepresented audiences are demographic groups that are significantly impacted by a condition but are bundled into the general population without consideration of their unique barriers, motivators, or media consumption habits. Such audiences could include groupings based on generation, culture, race, ethnicity, gender, language, geography, socioeconomic standing – and many more. (For more on this, read our POV, “What Every Healthcare Marketer Needs to Know About Inclusive Marketing.”)

What Can You Learn From an Inclusivity Assessment?
In a recent assessment Intouch conducted for a brand that treats a condition more prevalent in Black than in white people, our findings helped us develop more inclusive messaging that also builds trust between HCPs and patients. The treatment in question is for a condition that affects “people with uteruses,” and we heard from patients and doctors that using language like that, rather than “women,” can be beneficial. For example, it can help trans and nonbinary patients feel acknowledged, and may help them become aware of health issues that might not otherwise be top of mind; and it can help HCPs talk to patients more comfortably and effectively, which is vital in building trust.

Examples of Inclusivity Considerations

  • Ensure that there are members of the brand team who can assess the work from a variety of perspectives, including that of the audience you’re trying to reach.
  • Use terminology inclusive of, and specifically relevant to, underrepresented audiences.
  • Assess physical access to care when considering tools like doctor locators, including wheelchair access to an office, or distance to reach a location.
  • Address barriers to receiving care via telehealth, which could include issues of multilingual availability, access to technology, “technology quotient” or ability, and visual or hearing impairments.

Inclusivity – It’s Not Optional
Today, support for gay, lesbian and transgender people is on the rise, and a growing percentage of Americans identify as LGBT+. Brands that aren’t considering accessibility also aren’t considering their whole audience. In short, if you don’t prioritize inclusivity, your brand likely will not reach its full potential.

Conducting an inclusivity assessment is just one step a brand can take to improve its marketing efforts. The opportunities to improve how we understand our audiences are myriad, but since you can’t improve what you can’t measure, and you may not know what you don’t know, inclusivity assessments are vital to the success of your brand’s marketing efforts.