Diversity, equity and inclusion isn’t just a trendy option to promote in the workplace. As society has gone through many changes in the past few years, it has become an important expectation for many employees.
There is a lot of uncertainty still with the world. Remote work has become a standard procedure for many companies, and with it, a blurring of private and work lives. With this in mind, internal communications need to make everyone feel welcome and appreciated.
DEI is an important tool in addressing these issues. But, it can’t be clumsily implemented. It should become a deeply ingrained part of your company culture. These are ways to continuously sprinkle diversity, equity and inclusion into your internal communications.
Understand Your Audience
As a company grows larger, it will naturally become more diverse. Many times, this diversity is a strength, but it must be wielded correctly. Haphazard usage will only lower employee engagement.
An employer should consider their employees’ interests, background and needs when drafting messages. Human resources can keep a record or specific information regarding their workforce, so that they may craft more inclusive communication.
The company culture is also important to keep in mind. Would your audience be appreciative of this messaging? Are there specific scenarios or situations that arise from your culture? These considerations can also affect the tone and context of your internal communications.
Hold Training Sessions for Communicators
Your internal communication should never be left in untrained hands. An effective DEI program will include sessions to help develop your employees further. Also be mindful of your compliance to federal and local regulations.
Look to include training during the onboarding and continuous learning phases. Let this permeate in every part of the employee experience.
Avoid Casual Tones in Formal Materials
Many times, organizations will try to inject humor to lighten the tone in their employee communication. However, discretion should be used. Content that relies on stereotypes or a poorly timed joke can limit the seriousness of your material and turn off your audience. Insensitive communication in a professional space may hurt the productivity of an organization.
A proper balance should be struck. Effective communication should not be so formal, as to be boring. However, it should still limit insensitivity when dealing with important subjects.
Reward Diversity Champions
Those that embrace equality and diversity should be rewarded. In fact, recognition programs are a fantastic way to show support for their efforts via internal communication. It can piggyback off existing content, like an employee newsletter, or be its own separate section on an internal portal.
Rewards are another tool to utilize. This can also be tied to compliance matters, such as incentives for completing diversity training. More importantly, if an employee is visibly rewarded for inclusive actions, it demonstrates a commitment to the DEI program for other workers.
Accessibility isn’t just for legal compliance. It is a cornerstone of DEI as well. It also doesn’t solely constitute a physical space. Make sure your communication is accessible to visual and hearing impaired employees.
There are several solutions. Is your messaging sent through multiple channels, or have different formats? Do you include audio? Are video and audio files captioned? Do you provide alternative ways to access the information? By including multiple options, you ensure that your internal communication is for every employee.
Seek out Feedback
It is impossible to build any communication campaign without collecting feedback. This is regardless of whether it is inclusive or not. Insert a quick pulse survey into every piece of content. Inquire if they believe you are addressing their accessibility needs. This can even determine if your workforce is receptive to your DEI program.
Feedback also has the added benefit of letting employees know they are being heard. When you include your workforce in the decision making process, it will also reflect the values that they prioritize.
Encourage Peer to Peer Communication
Internal comms aren't without flaws. Since it is a top down approach, it may miss out on other aspects. To counteract this, try encouraging peer to peer interactions.
Company networking events can help organically form more diversity and inclusion. With the greater focus on telecommuting, virtual conferences can bring together people with different backgrounds. Working from home can also be isolating, so peer to peer messaging will expand their perspectives.
Finally, since larger companies are more diverse, cross department projects can break down silos and bring the staff together. They may even provide each other with different perspectives regarding their jobs. This can supplement your diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.
Another potential flaw with a dedicated internal communication department is the separation between management and employees. This makes it hard to have DEI initiatives be taken seriously. It’s important to push out personalized and relatable content.
Both understanding the audience and seeking out feedback play a role here. Make sure that employee communication is consistent with your company culture. Iterate your diversity programs according to the latest feedback. Relatability will improve the overall effectiveness of your inclusion efforts.
Make it a Continuous Campaign, Not a One Off
It is important to promote DEI often to ensure unity in your company’s goals. Otherwise, you can fall behind in social justice initiatives. There is a simple solution to promote consistency. A calendar of planned content would help make sure messages are regularly sent.
Repeatable content will also show true commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. One offs are forgettable and ineffective. Instead, demonstrate DEI as a core value by making it a multi tier campaign.
The modern employer will require multiple different channels and tools to keep all employees informed.