In a recent piece in Minnesota Business by Beth LaBreche, she outlines suggested questions for an annual customer survey. Perhaps one of the most important is “Does our external perception—if you believe one exists for us—match up with what you experience?” This is a thought worth exploring that touches upon many levels within a business. How does your customer see you? Is the image you are conveying through branding or any type of communication true to who you are? For example, look at diversity and the often-claimed status of being an Equal Opportunity Employer. On many company home pages there are the standard issue stock photo images showing various ethnicities to imply that the company actually has people just like that working there. This is a tired practice that needs to go away – unless that is a true representation of what’s inside the company. Most of the time it’s just wishful thinking. How many companies can really say they hire with an awareness of diversity – and that means generational, age, gender, culture, race or any other area of difference you can think of? Would you hire a person with a disability? A person who has a strong accent? A female engineer? A late-bloomer or career changer? If you want to be perceived as a company that supports diversity the best and simplest strategy is, well—to actually do so—authentically closing the gap between perception and experience.