Designing Customer Onboarding for gender diversity & inclusion
As CX advocates, we understand that we can’t campaign for a customer-first design approach while simultaneously remaining uneducated about what is, to some of our customers, the most pivotal of personal experiences - gender identity. That’s why we set out to find out if and how brands should ask customers for their gender and what considerations need to be made along the way.
In 2016, the Queensland University of Technology conducted The Australian sex survey - asking Australians how they identify with 33 different categorisations coming through in the results.
The below stats provide a sense of what gender diversity means different generations here in Australia:
- 20% of millennials currently identify as LGBTQ, compared to 7% of baby boomers and 12% of Gen Xers (Glaad, 2017)
- 56% of Gen Z said they knew someone who went by gender-neutral pronouns such as “they,” or “ze,” compared to 43% of millennials;
- 54% of millennials always bought clothes designed for their gender, while that’s true for only 44% of Gen Z teens;
- 70% of Gen Zs felt strongly that public spaces should provide access to gender-neutral bathrooms, compared to 57% of millennial 21–34-year-olds. (UX Collective, 2017)
With gender identity playing such an integral part in people lives, we've researched and compiled a few critical points for brands considering a more inclusive customer onboarding flow.
If you’re going to ask for gender, you need to be able to articulate why: Unsurprisingly consumers have become fatigued providing data, with many companies tending to “over-ask” for demographic data. If it’s not a crucial part of your customer offering, you may be able to eliminate the question. If it is, make sure to articulate the benefit of providing this information. Things like reflecting diverse identities in product photography is a good demonstration of value here, see this example or this.
Decided to ask about gender? Carefully consider how you ask the question: Often, biological sex and gender identity get conflated as one - its essential to craft a question that allows respondents to answer honestly and comfortably. Examples outlined below.
Foster a safe, private and anonymous online environment: Gender identity is a sensitive topic for many, and a non-issue for others, it’s crucial that your customer onboarding flow recognises this. Reassuring users that their information will not be shared with anyone outside of the brand, even allowing them to curate who sees it manually.
Allow users to opt-out or enter their categorisation: Being able to select multiple identities, create categorisation or opt-out entirely of the question makes people them feel more comfortable answering questions about gender.
Consider asking for pronouns instead: If the reason you’re asking for gender is specific to customised content and communication, a friendly alternative to help see and understand your audience is to ask for preferred pronouns she/her, they/them, he/him. A tactic employed by video hosting service Vimeo.
Trading internationally? Not everything translates: Gender identity means different things in different countries - if your eCommerce environments span multiple countries/markets, it’s essential to understand the specific requirements.
Getting started with updating your profile onboarding flow:
- Determine the value asking the gender question has for you and your customer
- Read the Australian Government guidelines on the recognition of Sex & Gender
- Update your profile onboarding (need help? Omneo Shapes have you covered)
- Update your direct marketing pronouns to be dynamic
- Audit and update your security guidelines as needed