Pride Month is a Reminder of the Importance of Inclusivity

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How is Your Brand Creating an Inclusive Customer Experience with Conversational AI?

In 2009, the US declared June to be Pride month, but it’s history is more than just a celebration and goes back way before then.  In 1969, protestors demanded the establishment of places where LGBT+ people could go and be open about their sexual orientation without fear of arrest (NationalToday.com).

“Pride is a time to foster collective resilience against those who try to legally marginalize us and physically harm us,” said Riley Rae.

“In addition to being a time of reflection, Pride is also a time for empowerment. The stigmatization of queerness is ever present in our lives. For my whole life, I’ve been taught that to be queer is to be a freak. This lesson was taught to me by my parents, my peers, and even the shows I watched on television. This constant flow of anti-queer propaganda implants a deep sense of shame within us. This is why Pride is so important, because pride is the antidote to shame. By showing off our queer bodies in public spaces, we embolden one another to continue living our lives as our authentic selves and give hope to those of us who still live in the shadows,” Rae continued.

 

Pride and Beyond

Beyond sexual orientation, which involves the attraction toward other people, gender identity, described by the HRC as the “innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither – how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One’s gender identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth,” is also something to note not just during Pride month, but year round.

“Being queer in this world is exhausting,” added Rae. “My friends and I sometimes call what we experience, trans-fatigue. It is emotionally draining to be inundated with aggressions both micro and macro. Further more, a day doesn’t go by that I don’t see a report about a law that some state legislator or another has proposed or passed in order to make life harder for my transgender siblings and I. In April, I read three separate stories of transgender people who had been murdered that month just for being trans. So far this year, 27 transgender people have been murdered.”

 

We Are All Human

“We are just like you.  We want the same things in life as you do.  There really is no difference [in that sense],” said Shannon Whittington, Speaker, Author and RN MSN CCM LGBTQ+ Health and Inclusion Consultant.

At the core, every human being wants to feel like they belong.  That’s really what the word inclusive means when it’s discussed in a personal and professional sense.

So when a brand or an organization says they’re inclusive, this is what it should mean.  But it’s one thing to say your organization is inclusive and it’s another to show it.

“We need to hear voices beyond the binary of male and female.  This promotes inclusivity for all,” said Whittington. For example, one thing that matters to many in the trans community is their voice.  How a person sounds when they speak says a lot about who they are.  It can suggest a perceived gender identity and when a trans person’s voice isn’t as masculine or feminine or even androgenous or gender neutral as they’d like, it can feel devastating not being recognized for how they truly feel inside.

But it’s not just transgender people, all of us have a unique voice.  Every voice can showcase confidence or insecurity, it can express excitement or sadness and it even can showcase trust and care.  It’s why when you talk on the phone to your significant other you feel at ease and smile or why when a telemarketer calls you feel annoyed.

 

How Something is Said Matters More Than What Is Said

In the 1970s, Dr. Albert Mehrabian studies suggested that we overwhelmingly deduce our feelings, attitudes, and beliefs about what someone says not by the actual words spoken, but by the speaker’s body language and tone of voice.

In fact, Dr. Albert Mehrabian quantified this tendency: words, tone of voice, and body language respectively account for 7%, 38%, and 55% of personal communication (RightAttitudes.com).

So could that mean, when there’s not a person in front of you or a video, that the tone of voice essentially becomes the most important piece of communication at 93%?  Therefore, it’s not so much what is said but how it’s said.  The tone, the emotion, the cadence, it all matters.

Let’s imagine you could choose how a voice sounded.  What if you could choose the voice to represent your business or have a few that could speak to people of all backgrounds, genders and in various languages and speaking styles?

Or what if you as a customer could choose the type of voice you want speaking to you?  Most people are familiar with Apple’s Siri voice, but recently the company now has multiple options to choose from based on your preference of what you’d like to hear.

 

Making Conversational AI More Inclusive with Custom Voice Options

As the use of AI grows, that includes voice technology.  When you call to return a purchase for example and an automated voice responds or when you speak to an app and it talks back to you in a way that’s conversational, not just the same phrase over and over again, that can be a form of text to speech.  The backend of the software or the conversational design tells the device or the software to respond back the text, with speech.

Well did you know that there are options for a business to create the exact type of voice they want to respond using AI technology like we do here at ReadSpeaker AI?  And that a business can also create various options for people to choose from when hearing the voice speak back to them?

So when your business thinks of your overall AI strategy and asks itself, how do I create a more diverse and inclusive experience for my customers, it’s a question that has to be asked across everything you do.  Choosing to create a more inclusive voice or multiple voices is one of many ways to show that your brand is welcoming and open.

But it’s also about hiring a diverse group of people.  “Hire queer people and put them in decision making roles,” said Rae.  “Make an effort to be more inclusive by offering training and follow up too,” added Whittington.  AI or brands are biased when we don’t have a diverse group of people and thought creating them.

Remember that at its core, we as human beings all want to feel like we belong.  We want to feel included instead of excluded.  A brand is a feeling and at every touch point and interaction, someone is making an assumption about your brand.  Don’t you want it to be the right one?

To learn more about how to create a customized voice or voices for your brand, contact Keri at keri.roberts@readspeaker.com.

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