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Unlocking Inclusive Services for the Vulnerable

The BSI Kitemark™ for inclusive service champions inclusivity, building trust and accessible services for all.

We're all human and can find ourselves vulnerable at any time. Circumstances beyond our control, like illness and disability, relationship problems, or financial difficulties, are experiences we all have faced. Under new consumer duty categories, 56% of adults are now considered vulnerable. More than ever, consumers should be empowered by essential services they know they can trust.

The BSI Kitemark™ for inclusive service helps give confidence in trusted services when they're needed the most. It's helping organizations across Britain to create fair, flexible and inclusive services for all, with more than 55 million consumers currently being supported. This new service, launched in early 2023, has specific schemes for finance (aligned with FCA Consumer Duty), water services (aligned with Ofwat), energy provision (aligned with Ofgem) and an open-to-all option.

Like any new initiative, the BSI Kitemark™ for inclusive service often prompts common questions and misconceptions. Below, we address and clarify some frequent queries we hear about the Kitemark™ and outline the many organizational and societal opportunities available to you through certification.

Our organization isn’t ready for Kitemark certification

It can be daunting to first think about getting started with certification. The BSI Kitemark™ for inclusive service is based on best practice from BS ISO 22458 (formerly BS 18477), and certifying to this standard should be the first step. While the number of clauses might initially seem intimidating, assessing sections of an organization encourages business-wide optimization. Challenges can drive innovation, and process introspection can help significantly improve operational efficiency in your business.

While some organizations have reported initial concerns of overwhelm, all have noted that after a review of systems, many already had measures in place to accommodate consumer vulnerability. Identifying areas for improvement became easier, providing clear insight and actionable points to reduce barriers and unintentional harm. To help your business get started with its Kitemark certification, BSI offers gap analysis days, allowing assessment of your current status against the scheme's requirements to develop a plan for your success.

Will achieving the Kitemark impact only a small amount of people?

Anyone can experience degrees of vulnerability at any time. Embracing that we all need different types of support allows organizations to plan for vulnerability and accommodate various needs, skills and capabilities. The BSI Kitemark™ for inclusive service offers many accessibility options, some often overlooked but required by many. These extend to ensuring accessibility in digital platforms, like ensuring websites and online services are navigable for those with visual impairments or other disabilities.

You can access materials in different formats, like braille or large text, and clear, concise language is available to assist those with literacy/cognitive problems and various other communication needs. Easyread is an accessible format also available for those with learning disabilities.

Will employees understand the need for a vulnerability standard?

Some guiding principles supporting BS ISO 22458 and the BSI Kitemark™ for inclusive service rely on accountability, empathy, empowerment, fairness, and inclusivity. Reports from BSI’s clients show that many of their staff already have an existing depth of knowledge and compassion for vulnerability.

Preparing for the assessments against BS ISO 22458 will allow your organization to get to know the areas of business and engage with staff, understanding their input. By understanding individuals' needs through conversations and encouraging disclosure, you can glean insight from people with lived experience; strengthening employees’ skills can boost morale and confidence.

How will becoming Kitemark certified benefit my organization?

Becoming BSI Kitemark™ certified offers numerous benefits for your business. It provides instant global recognition and credibility among consumers, enhancing trust in your products or services. In a YouGov survey conducted with 2065 adults in the UK across various age groups, more than 70% recognised the significance of the BSI Kitemark™, with 81% expressing increased confidence when purchasing products or services certified to the scheme.

With over 70% of UK consumers reporting increased confidence in products with a BSI Kitemark, businesses can showcase their commitment to inclusive service to an already confident audience. Becoming certified means displaying the mark of trust on your marketing materials, website, and social media channels, signifying your commitment to quality and building customer loyalty.

In a world where vulnerability touches us all, the BSI Kitemark™ for inclusive service emerges as an integral certification, demonstrating the power of embracing inclusivity across services. With it, your organization can bolster trust, support the vulnerable and signify a commitment to societal progress. By advocating for the scheme, you can lead the charge towards a more inclusive society, enhancing customer trust to open new markets and embody a broader commitment to a more empathetic, inclusive and resilient future.