Yelp this week introduced a new feature: a way for companies to advertise that they are inclusive and welcoming to all. And if that's how your business operates, you owe it to yourself and your customers and prospects to make that clear today.

It's a complex time for inclusivity. On one hand, #metoo and public shaming of apparent bigotry are (hopefully) setting new and better standards. Even online tools that could enable illegal discrimination get open criticism.

But events like the Supreme Court outcome in the case of the Colorado baker who refused to make a gay-themed wedding cake or so-called religious freedom laws that seek to let people discriminate under the claim of a sincerely help religious or moral belief have made many in society justifiably nervous.

Although there are laws that require equal treatment for a number of protected classes -- gender, age, religion, race, national origin, disability, and pregnancy are some examples, depending on the context -- there have been many attempts to limit or circumvent them. And then there are the cases were some businesses or service providers blatantly discriminate regardless of legal status.

If you practice inclusion as broadly as possible, many potential customers would like to know. That's where Yelp comes in.

The customer ratings site has joined a national group called Open to All, which focuses on businesses that "declare that they are Open to All regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, religion or disability." As part of this, Yelp added an Open to All attribute to business pages.

In addition to indicating whether they take credit cards or if parking is available, a business can say that it is "open to all." And you'd be crazy if you don't do it (presuming that you're not looking to exclude people).

The process can start with an online pledge form at Open for All. But to get the attribute to show, Yelp has instructions for business owners.

You've got three choices: opt in to show open to all, opt out and show that you're not open to all, or select neither yes nor no and the attribute won't appear at all on your page.

But figure that many people will be looking.

Published on: Aug 2, 2018
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