Everything changed when Mark Zuckerberg put the issue on the table. Although the metaverse had already been explored by the video game industry, it was not until the founder of Meta announced that his technology company was already preparing to receive the metaverse that the term became more relevant.
“In the next decade, more than 1 billion people may be in the metaverse. And because companies like Meta are starting to think about this future, we will have an opportunity to help build the metaverse with diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) from its inception,” said Maxine Williams, Vice President of Diversity at Meta.
In the eyes of the American company, building an inclusive metaverse will not only allow them to design the next generation of digital experiences, but also to have a competitive advantage in the market. To do so, Meta began by establishing five pillars in its strategy.
The five pillars of the inclusive metaverse
The first of these is to ask the right questions. With an investment of 50 million dollars, the company joined forces with civil associations in the United States and academic institutions such as Howard University to explore the unknowns and problems related to the metaverse.
He then focused on building diverse talent networks , that is, increasing diversity and equity in the field of artificial intelligence through the Meta Blueprint platform, as well as the diversity of people who work in the company.
According to its 2022 Annual Diversity Report, the company doubled the number of women in the global workforce, in fact female talent now represents 36.7% of its global leadership.
Profiles with disabilities make up 6.2% of its U.S. workforce, up from 4.7% in 2021. Additionally, people from underrepresented communities make up 46.7% of the global workforce, up from 45.6% a year earlier, while members of the LGBTQ+ community make up 10%.
“What we want is to be intentional about this diversity and take it as an axis in the construction of an inclusive metaverse,” says Thais Mingardo, Meta Compensation and Benefits Manager for Latin America.
Another pillar of Meta is breaking down language barriers , which led the company to develop new translation tools. Allowing access to creators from diverse backgrounds is just as important, as is creating myriad options for self-expression.
In this tenor, Meta is focused on offering more than a quintillion different attribute combinations for avatars , from skin tones to facial shapes and assistive devices, such as hearing aids and wheelchairs so that all users can feel represented and included. in the metaverse.
“There is a lot of demagoguery around inclusion, but organizations that genuinely do what they say will be more respected by stakeholders, who in the end are the ones who are going to look after the interests of the company,” says Julieta Manzano, consultant and commercial director of Mercer and author of the book Designers of the future, redrawing the world of work.
For a company to be able to do something transcendental in the market, as in the case of Meta, it must first know its demographics, says the expert, know where the firm is in business and redirect its investments, with the aim of optimizing the investment and maximize results.
“The metaverse accelerated and we had to go digital all at once. The first mistake will be to think that if things work as usual then why make changes. This vision condemns you not to compete, not to look, not to listen, not to progress or evolve. It is a matter of survival that implies recognizing that things are no longer the same and that companies need trained talent, connection and open dialogue to grow. If you manage to connect the different players on your team, you are going to run the marathon with the best tennis shoes”, warns Manzano.
The importance of suppliers
To build the inclusive metaverse it envisions, Meta is collaborating with various companies, developers, experts, and policymakers. Knowing that access to virtual reality can open up gaps, the company is working on a web-based version of Horizon Worlds so that more people can enter the metaverse from other mobile devices such as smartphones.
On the other hand, in 2020 the technology company announced its commitment to invest 1,000 million dollars annually in various suppliers in the United States and at least 100 million dollars with companies from the black community. According to data from the firm, in 2021 transactions with American suppliers were 1,260 million dollars and 306 million dollars with companies from the black community.
Likewise, Williams announced that since August of this year they have joined the Billion Dollar Table (BDR), a group of companies that annually spend at least that amount with certified companies that are owned by of minorities, women, veterans, LGBTQ+ and people with disabilities.
“By supporting diverse providers and hiring people with a variety of backgrounds and approaches, we can create better experiences for everyone. We know this work is far from over, but through dedication and innovation we will strive to make technology and the metaverse more inclusive.”