Diversity in the workplace brings your organisation different perspectives, experience and skill sets. It engenders debate and stimulates innovation. More and more consumers are choosing to seek out businesses with a demonstrable commitment to diversity & inclusion as these are the businesses with the positive values and durability to succeed in today’s economy. So, how can you best use your communications tools to support and embed your company’s diversity and inclusion values in your business?
Although national legislation – which encompasses age, disability, race, religion, sex and sexual orientation and more – sets minimum standards for UK businesses, a truly effective inclusion and diversity strategy will go beyond the need to simply comply with the law. By now your organisation will have, or will be targeting, a D&I strategy that looks to contribute to employee well-being across the board, to open up opportunities for all individuals, and to drive value into the business.
Your internal communication strategy will underpin the success of your D&I strategy and need to consider five key principles.
First, help people understand what you are aiming for
Be explicit about your goals, and share what diversity and inclusion means to your business. Diversity is – effectively – the celebration of differences between people, and inclusion is about creating an environment that is nurturing, supportive and respectful while encouraging the participation of all employees. You could see diversity as making sure that you are open to the right people for every role without prejudice, limitations or boundaries, and inclusion as ensuring that everyone feels comfortable in the workplace.
This communication thread – defining D&I and dispelling myths – could stand as part of your new employee induction process, as well as being part of the hiring manager coaching. Using Ripple you can define audiences for any of your comms, and manage the employees that sit within that audience through tagging and setting categories. So, you can schedule your ‘What does D&I mean for us?’ campaign to run with the tag “new starters”, or tie an ‘Understanding D&I’ email series into an audience that is training to be a hiring manager.
Educate the uninitiated
Recognise that even some of your most long-standing employees (especially some of your most long-standing employees) may not be fully educated on some of the topics younger employees are more au fait with. Many of these subjects were simply not talked about a decade ago and so, for these employees, a more sensitive targeted approach may be required. Weaving well-established tools – such as the Genderbread Person model for breaking down the concept of gender into digestible pieces – into your communications can help softly ease these topics into your cultural discourse in the right way.
You can embed rich content such as gifs, pdfs, and pulse surveys into your communications through Ripple’s Publisher which can help bring some of these concepts to life, make them human and dispel any discomfort around the subject.
Start (and support) the conversation
More than most, D&I is a topic that absolutely demands to be a conversation and not a one-way communication. Dialogue around all the concepts and values raised by your D&I strategy is essential for employee understanding. Providing a communication platform that allows questions to be raised, and questions to be asked, is essential. Open forums for discussion, opportunities to comment on all communications, online chat groups and more, are all ways to promote and support the conversation. Any opportunity to be open, honest and human within the workplace is essential when aiming to normalise historically sensitive conversations surrounding topics such as gender, race, identity, and privilege.
On the subject of inclusion, Patrick Moulsdale, Head of People Development and Mediation at CMP says, “We need to adapt a conversation to create more safety and self-awareness – to recognise what’s happening in us, or what it is about us that could inhibit inclusion/safety in another person.”
All communication managed through your Ripple platform can be opened to comment and discussion. You can also track the sentiment of those discussions through the unique Campaign Dashboard, even seeing trends in conversation displayed in word clouds. This gives you, and your D&I leaders, the opportunity to tailor your communications and activities around genuine thoughts and feelings of your employees.
Get your language right
All your communication will be carefully thought out and appropriate language chosen for your audience, but any content discussing D&I needs to be beyond reproach. Some of those terms that we use – almost without thinking – to bring a casual tone and a human lilt to our text may be reflecting or even enforcing the prejudiced views of particular groups. If your strategy includes striving towards gender-neutrality, for example, the use of ‘guys’ when referring to a group of people could be replaced with ‘team’, and you could decide to ask employees to add their pronouns to their email signatures or company social profile to avoid gender assumptions.
Take a fully inclusive approach to diversity and inclusion
Landing and sustaining your D&I values across your business needs to be an all or nothing strategy. The policies that you put in place must be supported by your leadership team and sustained across the organisation, which means weaving it into HR and people management processes throughout. Your internal communications can support this through the use of clear, appropriate language, breaking down complex concepts and running regular campaigns to sustain the knowledge and keep everyone updated.
But internal communications also have a part to play in embedding a culture of sound D&I values through effective, targeted content and gathering the specific information needed to land some complex messages effectively.
Running Engagement surveys centred around particular topics can help you to understand which issues need to be explored in more depth, and how you can finely tune your communications. Using Ripple’s Campaign Dashboard gives you in depth data on the reactions and discussions that your campaigns have provoked and can help you to avoid generalising employee sentiment and making follow up campaigns too generalised. Ripple’s unique tracking means you can cut sentiment data by multiple factors – to gain specific insight into your campaign’s success and help define the route future communications need to take.
However you choose to structure your D&I communications strategy, remember that – more than any other campaign – clarity, openness, sensitivity and listening are key to your success, at every level of the organisation and at every stage. Ripple can help support you with the tools you need to deliver engaging, tightly scheduled campaigns on a platform that encourages two-way communication and provides the ability to understand employee feeling at a unique depth.
Want to learn more about Ripple and how we can provide the tools you need to connect and engage your hybrid working teams? Register for one of our upcoming demo webinars.