Every Pride Month, International Women’s Day, Mental Health Awareness Month, companies are scrutinised over their website or logo rebranding, or marketing campaigns that seem to promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). If this is a summary of your company’s commitment to DEI, people will see right through it and question the authenticity of your actions.
Championing DEI in your organisation is more than just aligning your brand with a cultural movement or hiring diverse talent from minority groups. It’s about creating an environment and culture in the workplace where employees feel welcome, respected and a sense of belonging in the company.
Having a strong culture of inclusion can be a critical factor to driving employee and business success. Gartner reports that organisations with sustainable DEI efforts demonstrate a 20% increase in inclusion, which corresponds to greater on-the-job effort and intent to stay, as well as high employee performance.
Internal communications teams can work to redefine organisational culture and bring previously marginalised or minority voices to the centre. To achieve this, internal communicators should relook its internal communication strategy and come up with new solutions that foster a culture of belonging and drive forward DEI as a business priority. Here are tips to consider as you strategise your organisation’s DEI efforts.
- Where does your organisation stand in diversity, equity and inclusivity? Take a look at your current internal communications strategy and consider the actions that underpin them. Conduct engagement surveys with employees to gather their opinions and response. These will help identify successes in your current policies, as well as pick up gaps and areas to focus on in the future. Segment all survey responses into various groups – gender, generation, ethnicity, etc. This will make it easier and you’ll be able to quickly hone in on specific issues about specific groups.
- Create a space for an open conversation: Gaining understanding on the part of employees demands more than handing out surveys. It requires listening, dialogue, and a safe space for employees to speak out or ask questions. A great way to do so is to create an online and/or offline communications platform where you can host conversations on sensitive topics like gender, race, identity, mental health, and privilege. This not only provides a space for employees to candidly open up about their perspectives but also normalises holding such conversations in the workplace.
- Get your leaders on board: Your leaders set the tone as role models. Their involvement and commitment to DEI are essential as leaders who demonstrate behaviours such as courage, curiosity, and cultural intelligence are likely to enable cultures that encourage inclusiveness. Start by exposing your leaders to the reality of different employees’ experiences of discrimination and exclusion.
- Set DEI communication and content guidelines: Develop a resource for leaders, employees and communicators to use when developing internal content. The resource can include guidelines or best practices on how to use inclusive language, avoid insensitive phrasing, incorporate gender neutrality and promote conscious inclusion.
- Share more diverse stories all-year round: Promote inclusion through storytelling – highlight the stories of people who represent the various diverse groups at your organisation. Get your employees to share stories about their culture, what they love about their heritage or history, challenges they’ve overcome, things they wish other people understood about them, the list goes on! One more thing – go beyond surface-level, calendar-bound storytelling. Instead of tying stories to a specific commemorative day, holiday or month, strive to share their stories regularly throughout the year.
- Showcase DEI efforts in annual reports: Communicating your DEI narrative and commitment means nothing without genuine, actionable change. Regularly measure, track and share progress toward your goals, communicate planned actions and take responsibility for any shortfalls to foster authenticity and employee trust.