The Web belongs to everyone, but can we say equally as confidently that it is for everyone? As technology races on and new tools are discovered each day, entire communities are holding back, often on the issue of rights. Because of ethnicity, religion, gender, age or physical appearance, many people find themselves in a situation of inequality compared to others.
The web also reflects these mechanisms. There are frequent cases of hate on social networks, sexist messages, or algorithms that apply mechanisms that are not inclusive or respectful. Often our words and messages lack inclusivity, even without meaning to. That’s why it’s helpful to go back and think about what diversity & inclusion are and how to increase them in everyday activities. Nudges can be a valuable tool to achieving this.
In the world of psychology, nudges are, in decision-making processes, elements that push us toward specific choices without preventing us from considering other options. They influence us but don’t compel us. Another aspect is that they are contextual, meaning they appear right when a choice is to be made so as to influence us at the right moment.
At Digital Attitude, we’ve turned nudges into interactions: actual messages that users receive as they perform an action and gently prompt them to do it more effectively.
To enhance diversity & inclusion, nudges push users toward more inclusive behaviors, such as choosing non-gender-specific expressions when writing emails. This way, building new habits is easier because nudges give small, practical tips that can be applied at just the right time.
Digital Attitude developed hi, a digital coach that interacts with users through Nudges. In journeys, meaning paths to change and acquiring new skills, hi leads people not only to explore diversity & inclusion, but also to concretely apply new behaviors.
With Tips, hi sends out in-depth and interactive materials to explain, for example, what is meant by diversity & inclusion, what inclusive language is, and how widespread the gender gap is. Nudges, as we have seen, are contextual interactions because the user receives them just as he or she is performing a specific task.
How do Nudges promote inclusion? We write them in inclusive language and use them contextually to promote inclusive behaviors at the right time.
What are some concrete examples of these nudges? For example, when the person opens Microsoft Teams or email, a Nudge reminds them that writing “Good morning, everyone” at the beginning of an email is more inclusive than other greetings. Nudges also can pop up when someone is working on a Word file, suggesting inclusive writing tips to apply right away.
Another concrete case is a Nudge a person receives when opening their Teams or Outlook calendar to create a meeting. In this case, the Nudge could suggest creating a workshop dedicated to LGBTQIA+ values, with the goal of educating the team on these issues.
Or it could also remind people to value diversity among those attending the meeting. Noticing, for example, that there is gender disparity in your team can be the first step in trying to reduce it.
A Nudge that focuses on inclusiveness can also be more cross-cutting. For example, if a person is about to enter a meeting, the Nudge reminds them that one way to communicate inclusively is to avoid placing positive or negative values on certain physical or ethnic traits. These are small pieces of practical advice that stick with people right before meeting other people and therefore can be applied right away, promoting inclusive habits and behaviors.
The huge benefit of also knowing and taking an interest in other people’s lives and in those who seem distant from our everyday lives, is discovering that their stories, in fact, are also about our rights. And they enrich us. Adopting more inclusive behaviors means creating an environment (at work, but not only) whose benefits are “redistributed” collectively. Real change can’t exist without this.