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Beyond "lip service": a blueprint for communicating DEI programs authentically

Mahatma Gandhi: “Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilisation.”


If you think that workplace diversity is a theme reserved for your HR team, think again. After all, diversity has more to do with communication than anything else. 


During the past years, there were many events that have underscored the deep-seated issues of racial and social inequities. Now, more companies worldwide are reevaluating their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and most of all, how they communicate these efforts. 


How does a corporation articulate its DEI journey without falling into the trappings of performative allyship? This blog article aims to explore the essence of authentic DEI communication, offering a potential roadmap for companies to navigate this pivotal aspect.


Transparency is the keystone of DEI Communication


Transparency is the foundation when communicating any DEI initiative. A transparent approach involves a candid disclosure of where a company stands in its DEI journey - the good, the bad, and the ugly. It's about noticing the milestones, while also openly acknowledging the areas that necessitate improvement. This level of honesty indicates a genuine commitment to change.



From aspirations to actions: showcasing real results


DEI is not an overnight transformation but a continuous journey of growth and learning. While aspirational goals set the direction, the focus in communication  should be on tangible outcomes and real-life changes within the organization. Whether it’s spotlighting the success of a newly formed women’s group or sharing the story of a diverse hire who's making significant strides, these narratives are the ones that strike the cord the most. 


Never shy away from celebrating DEI successes and milestones. Publicly acknowledge and celebrate when goals are met, such as reaching diversity hiring aspirations or successful implementation of inclusive policies. Share these achievements in team meetings, newsletters, and on social media platforms. Recognize teams and individuals who have made significant contributions to your DEI efforts. Celebrate cultural events and heritage months to educate and engage your workforce. These celebrations will boost morale and encourage continued effort towards these important goals. 


Use tailored communication channels


Consider the diversity of your workforce and stakeholders when choosing communication channels. Utilize multiple platforms such as intranets, newsletters, social media to reach different audiences effectively. Ensure that your DEI messaging is consistent across channels, but adapt the delivery to resonate with specific groups. Personalise, personalise, personalise. 


Continuous learning as a well for internal communication and engagement


Be genuine in DEI. Not just checklists but actual support and action in those cultural moments throughout the year.  Don’t  exclude people from the discussion table to execute DEI initiatives and events. Maintain alliances with other EBG groups. 


Providing DEI education and resources includes recurring and engaging training sessions for all employees, covering topics like unconscious bias, cultural competency, and inclusive communication. Supplement these with accessible, on-demand resources like reading materials, webinars, and workshops. Create opportunities for open discussions and forums where employees can share experiences and learn from each other. Highlight the availability of these resources in internal communications and encourage ongoing participation. 



Employee Resource Groups are key 


ERGs can play a vital role in fostering inclusion and authentic DEI communication. These groups can provide valuable insights and perspectives, helping to shape not only the overall DEI strategy but also how it is delivered to the stakeholders. 


Engage with communities and partnerships


True DEI engagement means extending your efforts beyond the confines of your company. Partnering with community organisations and participating in events that promote diversity and inclusion highlight your commitment to effecting change in the broader society. These collaborations bring fresh perspectives and ideas back to your company, enriching your own initiatives. 


The role of leadership in DEI Communication


The tone at the top influences the authenticity of DEI communication. When leaders actively engage in and champion DEI efforts, it sends a powerful message throughout the organization. Their involvement can range from leading by example to participating in DEI training and initiatives, thereby reinforcing the importance of DEI at every level of the company.


DEI communication efforts are a reflection of corporate integrity. By prioritizing genuine engagement over superficial narratives, companies can foster an environment of trust. The ultimate goal is to create a corporate world that truly reflects the diversity and richness of the society it serves.

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