Brand values – why accessibility is good for your brand

Being known for your commitment to accessibility is good for business, whether you’re looking to attract and retain talent or to expand your customer base. Find out how a reputation for diversity and inclusion can gives you a business benefit.

Young woman in yellow trousers, sitting on the street in front of a poster saying "What you do matters".

Companies today need to be about more than just delivering their core business. Employees and customers want brands that share their values, and live them out.

More and more, businesses that are clear about their values, and can demonstrate how they follow them, are gaining a commercial lead. In short, becoming a leader in the accessibility space is good for your brand.

Values-based or values-led?

“Values-based” brands are on the rise. These can be defined as “ a brand that spends its marketing dollars developing programs that advance their customers’ lives as well as their communities — outside of the products and services they provide.”

This could be about using your marketing to champion a cause or campaign – such as speaking out about accessibility.

“Values-led” organisations are slightly different. They are the ones with a set of brand values that define the way they do business. For example, having “inclusion” as a brand value could be worked out in practice by going the extra mile to attract, accommodate and progress employees with access needs.

Both approaches are valid, and both are attractive to potential employees, consumers and other stakeholders – building trust, loyalty and market share.

Millennial values

Millennials in particular (generally considered to be born between 1981 and 1996) are known to favour brands and organisations that prioritise corporate social responsibility. If they see your business as having a social conscience they are more likely to follow your brand, to engage with your products and services, and to see you as an employer of choice.

Research shows that 9 out of 10 millennials would switch brands to one associated with a cause, and many would pay more for a product if it came from a responsible company. But this age group has high standards, and a keen eye for trust and authenticity.

Attracting employees

Having a strong employer brand can make your organisation more attractive to potential employees. Millennials are the largest working generation – by 2025, they are expected to make up 75% of the workforce – and they want to work for organisations that share their values.

A 2016 survey showed that 76% of millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments before deciding where to work, and 64% wouldn’t take a job if a potential employer didn’t have strong corporate responsibility practices.

Today, according to Deloitte’s latest research, that impetus is even stronger. Following the Covid-19 pandemic, younger generations – millennials and Gen Zs – are even more invested in wanting to build a better future.

“Diversity and inclusion” is one of their criteria when considering a new job. In 2016, 47% of millennials said it was an important factor. And that’s likely to have gone up: a more recent New Zealand survey from Hays showed that 54% of professionals say that an organisation’s equality, diversity and inclusion policies will be either vital or important considerations when they next look for a job.

Attracting customers

The same applies when it comes to attracting consumers. Deloitte’s 2020 study showed that millennials and Gen Z will actively support companies that make a positive impact to society. About 60% said they plan to buy more products and services from large businesses that have taken care of their workforces and positively impacted society during the pandemic.

Other research shows similar results, across age groups:

  • 86% of consumers expect brands to solve societal problems.
  • 87% of consumers will purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about.
  • Brands that are seen as making the world a better place have seen their market share multiply by 9, and seen a 24-point greater purchase intent.

The importance of trust

Of course, there is no point in trying to create a reputation for inclusion and accessibility if you don’t walk the talk. This article gives insights from some New Zealand companies that are promoting the importance of diversity and inclusion while also being aware that “showing up is easy, but institutional change is hard.”

And globally, the same research that shows consumers want brands to have social purpose also shows they can be sceptical about whether businesses are actually living up to your own brand values.

  • Gen Z (those born after 1995) care about equality, but they will trust large companies only when they show their commitment by their actions and their employees' actions.
  • Brand trust increases when actions help workers and communities. That includes proper treatment of employees.

Returning to the example of accessibility, it’s the difference between telling the world about your diversity initiatives versus actual, meaningful inclusion in the workplace.

Accessibility as a brand value

Are you a business looking to “walk the talk” when it comes to accessibility for your staff and customers? Contact our One-Stop Shop team for advice.


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