In June US-based retailer Kohl’s added clothing for people with disabilities and complex medical needs to three of its private-label brands for kids. The Jumping Beans, SO and Urban Pipeline brands will now feature clothing with abdominal access and sensory-friendly materials, as well as wheelchair-friendly options. The idea was championed internally by Kohl’s employees whose children have special medical or developmental needs.
Here are two takeaways for your brand:
Inclusive IRL. So far, 2019 has already seen the development of Lego Braille Bricks for the blind, Wheel the World wheelchair accessible tours to Machu Picchu, and a partnership between Lionsgate and Actiview for live American Sign Language interpretation of movies.
What’s pushing these very welcome moves? First, there’s simple demography. According to the WHO, the number of people requiring assistive devices (think wheelchairs, hearing aids and more) is projected to double to 2 billion by 2050. Second, it’s the right thing to do. Rising awareness of inclusivity means brands have no excuse: they must make their offering as inclusive as possible. How can you make every part of your customer experience more accessible to those who have too often been marginalised?
Inspiration from within. What really sets this innovation apart from other inclusivity efforts is how instrumental Kohl’s own employees were in getting the product right. Kohl’s Technical Director for Kids, who has a daughter with developmental and sensory needs, gathered a group of colleagues in a similar situation to discuss solutions with the product team. The lesson here?
Tap the diversity of your own people in order to make your values, processes and offering more inclusive. And if you look to your employees and see no diversity, then you need to ask yourself why!