Table of contents
- Exploring Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion – DEI
- Barriers to DEI Communications
- Building an Effective DEI Communication Strategy
- Valuable DEI Communications Checklist Ideas
- Fostering Inclusive Internal Communications
- Find the Right Communications Platform for Your DEI Strategy
- What’s Next?
Communication is a powerful tool in any organization, and it becomes even more significant when it engages with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI).
Many organizations have been focusing on DEI. But according to McKinsey’s new survey report, The State of Organizations 2023, in many instances, their initiatives don’t translate into meaningful progress. While 70% of their respondents (CEOs and their teams) say their organizations have ambitious goals for DEI transformation, 47% admit they don’t have a suitable infrastructure to realize their DEI aspirations. Only 43% believe their organizations have begun to take measures to tackle discrimination and bias in the workplace.
They found that there is often a missing link between the DEI strategy and the corporate strategy. As a result, their advice is for leaders to adopt a more systematic approach from the outset when defining strategies. They need to take the goals and intended impact of their initiatives into account. To achieve their DEI goals, leaders need to identify opportunities within their organizations, as well as enhance the broader community and society.
We are going to explore the concept of communication as it relates to DEI and suggest strategies for building effective DEI communication practices. We will provide you with DEI checklist ideas to ensure that every aspect of communications is covered. Arm yourself with these insights and strategies to make your organization a haven of diversity, equity, and inclusivity.
Exploring Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion – DEI
Diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) has increasingly become a critical aspect in organizations. For the uninitiated, DEI refers to the conscious practice of fostering an environment that celebrates differences, treats everyone equally, and includes all individuals, regardless of their backgrounds. Be it gender, race, culture, or personality type – every difference is valued and respected in a DEI-embracing workspace.
More simply stated, it strives to meet the needs of employees from all walks of life.
- Diversity refers to the variety of types in a workplace including gender, age, ethnicity, and physical abilities or disabilities.
- Equity refers to fairness and demands that all employees are fairly treated. It doesn’t imply equality, because factors such as education, experience, and so on come into play.
- Inclusion refers to the ability of an organization to literally embrace and include all employees to enable every individual to make a meaningful contribution.
Job seekers today pay a significant amount of attention to whether their prospective employers maintain a healthy DEI environment or not. It also impacts the employee experience (EX) and influences the general image of an organization. Moreover, DEI initiatives don’t stop at creating a diverse workforce. They extend to ensuring that all employees are equally heard, respected, and provided equal opportunities.
Furthermore, as countless studies have shown, organizations that embrace the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion become stronger. They are better equipped to respond to challenges, attract and win top employee talent, and meet the needs of a broader customer base.
What DEI Means to Employees
Research published by Statista in 2023 highlights the most important outcomes of DEI programs for full-time employees globally. For 66% of respondents, creating inclusion and a sense of belonging was the most cherished result of DEI programs at their place of employment. Fair compensation was considered just about as important (65%). Using input from a diverse selection of employees to create improved strategies was tops for 60%. So, too, was recruiting and supporting the growth of a diverse group of employees. Only 58% thought it was important to have diverse decision-makers.
What is DEI Communications?
DEI communications is an integral part of a company’s DEI initiatives. In essence, it refers to effectively conveying DEI-related information both internally and externally. A good DEI communication strategy involves candid discussions on DEI topics, transparent reporting of the organization’s DEI efforts, and promotion of DEI initiatives through various channels.
For example, executive leadership might send monthly emails disclosing diversity statistics and the progress made on DEI projects. The human resources team may host webinars on inclusive language, common biases, and how best to counteract them.
The way communication content is handled will vary somewhat depending on the industry. For example, the focus for healthcare workers will be quite different from that adopted for the construction industry.
Why DEI Matters in Organizations
DEI is not just a social investment practice. It has a direct impact on an organization’s success. Countless studies show there is a correlation between diversity and business performance, extending to the bottom line. Also, organizations that value DEI tend to be more innovative and outperform their competitors.
Here are some examples of what the two studies found.
1. Pew Research Center
The Washington-based Pew Research Center conducted a national survey of 5,902 U.S. workers in February 2023. The majority (56%) said that focusing on increasing DEI at work is a good thing. This percentage is higher for women, with 61% saying it’s a good thing.
Some other interesting facts and findings that came from the survey include:
- 61% report company policies for fairness in hiring, pay, or promotions.
- 54% believe their organizations pay sufficient attention to increasing DEI.
- 52% indicate DEI training or meetings about DEI in the workplace.
2. McKinsey’s Diversity Wins
McKinsey has produced many reports that focus on DEI or that include commentary on DEI. One of these, “Diversity Wins: The Significance of Inclusion,” shows that:
- Most employees support diversity (52%) while 31% don’t.
- Companies with over 30% women in executive roles demonstrated a greater likelihood of outperforming companies with lower representation.
- Businesses with executives from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds excelled, surpassing their less diverse peers by 36% in terms of profitability.
But, as this McKinsey report points out, “Progress in building diverse workforces remains stubbornly slow.” Despite the fact that employees generally support diversity, there is a lot of negativity when it comes to inclusion.
Incorporating DEI Communication in an HRIS
“Diversity and inclusion has long been owned by HR,” says Carole Jackson, senior principal of research and products for D&I at Mercer. But today it’s getting a lot more attention from business leaders beyond HR.
There has also been a rise in D&I technology solutions that is driven by companies shifting from strategies that primarily assist individuals to strategies that support entire organizations.
A human resource information system (HRIS) is a powerful software tool used globally to collect and store data that relates to employees. A popular technology solution, it’s part and parcel of a human resources management system that maintains employee records for HR and for compliance reasons. Because data is kept in one place, it improves administrative efficiency. Because an HRIS tracks data, it is an invaluable tool for DEI-related communications.
Barriers to DEI Communications
WebMD Health Services’ survey, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging (DEI&B), reports that 62% of workers surveyed say DEI&B programs are ineffective. Nearly half (46%) believe they have failed them personally.
Ultimately, they found that employees in general live in a stressful world and they need more support from their employers.
One of the primary barriers to DEI communication is the lack of awareness or understanding of DEI itself. It can be challenging to have candid discussions about DEI when people do not understand its importance, which is why education is the first step in any successful DEI communication strategy.
Also, there’s no denying that forming an inclusive internal communication loop is not an easy task. There may be implicit biases and prejudices among employees that can unintentionally exclude certain individuals or groups. The fear of miscommunication or backlash can also discourage open DEI discussions.
Building an Effective DEI Communication Strategy
To build an effective communication strategy, you need to understand who you’re dealing with. You need to create a clear DEI-orientated message. Then, to spread your message, you need to choose the best possible communication channels to meet the needs of individual employees.
Understand Your Audience
One essential aspect when constructing any communication strategy is understanding your audience. Unsurprisingly, it’s the same for a DEI communications strategy. Understand who your employees are, what they value, their preferred mode of communication, and the kind of DEI content that might interest them. An employee experience strategy lead plays a crucial role in gathering this valuable information. This person takes responsibility for developing the organization’s strategy to enhance and optimize the overall experience of its employees.
Surveys can also be very useful because they will give you an indication of what employees are thinking about DEI. They also encourage input from employees, which in itself increases inclusion.
Create a Clear DEI Message
Creating a clear DEI message goes beyond just using inclusive language. It requires creating an environment where sensitive topics related to DEI can be discussed openly. Listening is just as critical as speaking. Encouraging employee advocacy by creating safe spaces for discussions can significantly help in molding a favorable organizational culture.
Choose Appropriate Communication Channels
It is more important than ever to understand that each employee may have a different preferred communication channel. Some people might prefer emails, whereas others might respond better to more interactive modes like webinars or town hall meetings. Personal meet-ups, newsletters, intranet portals, and even social media can be leveraged to improve DEI communication efforts.
You should choose the appropriate generic channel based on your workforce demographic and their preferences. A platform that allows you the freedom to do this by targeting individuals and linking them to channels is the best option.
Valuable DEI Communications Checklist Ideas
Effectively managing DEI communications requires a well-planned strategy. Checklists can be a useful component of this. They allow you to ensure that no crucial elements are overlooked in your DEI comms strategy.
Checklists also serve as a roadmap for internal communicators, ensuring nothing is missed out during the implementation of DEI initiatives. The lessons learned throughout the process can be included in the checklist for continuous improvement. They allow for easy documentation of completed tasks and unaddressed areas needing attention. This contributes to transparency and allows for continual improvement in your communications efforts.
Essential Checklist Items
Some key items that your DEI communications checklist should include are specified awareness days, a reviewed inclusive language guide, clear routes for candid discussions, social media content checks, employee experience surveys, and inclusive hiring and promotional practices. These elements should be ingrained in your overall DEI communications strategy.
The fact that you need to engage both internal and external communication channels should be entered on your checklist too.
Ensure you have regular updates and engagements banking on thematic days such as International Women’s Day, Pride Month, or Black History Month to highlight your commitment to DEI.
To ensure the maximum efficacy of the checklist, it should be treated as a living document that evolves based on lessons learned, feedback received, and changes in organizational culture.
Plan and Develop a Checklist
Here’s a FREE DEI Communications Checklist that you can use to prepare a communication plan for a DEI communication strategy.
Fostering Inclusive Internal Communications
Inclusive internal communication is crucial for driving a vibrant DEI culture within an organization. It creates a respectful work environment where diverse perspectives are valued. It also promotes fairness and offers an employee experience that motivates employees to contribute to their maximum potential.
Strategies for Promoting Inclusivity
Inclusive communications start from the top. Your executive leadership should lead by example, using inclusive language and demonstrating behaviors that value diversity. Ensuring that your EX strategy lead guides and fosters this culture can be a game changer for any organization.
Another important factor is the appropriate training of internal communicators. They should be equipped with the skills to handle the nuances of DEI content and ensure it is communicated in a way that honors the diversity within your organization.
Adopting a zero-tolerance policy against any form of discrimination and promoting candid discussions on DEI issues can significantly boost your DEI effort.
Building an Inclusive Organizational Culture
An inclusive organizational culture is one where every individual feels valued, heard, and appreciated. Building such a culture requires conscious efforts in fostering diversity, inclusion and equity. This should be well-documented in your DEI communications strategy. Regular presentations, workshops, team building activities promoting inclusivity can radically transform your workplace culture.
Bridging the gap between various cultural and social backgrounds should be seen as an opportunity to learn and grow rather than a challenge. Regularly sharing stories, experiences, and lessons learned from different cultural and social backgrounds can foster understanding and acceptance among employees.
Leveraging a Diverse Workforce
A diverse workforce brings a wealth of experiences, ideas, and skills to the table. Recognizing and appreciating this diversity through consistent DEI initiatives is crucial. Leveraging a diverse workforce can lead to innovation, improved problem solving, and better performance overall.
It’s equally important to ensure that the diverse experiences and expertise are evenly represented across all levels and departments of the organization. This can be encouraged through a DEI communication strategy that includes programs for mentoring and sponsoring diverse talent.
The very essence of leveraging a diverse workforce lies in the organization’s ability to provide equal opportunities while embracing diversity and inclusive growth. Encouraging employees to share their success stories and discussing achievements during meetings or through digital platforms can be a great way to foster an inclusive work environment.
Find the Right Communications Platform for Your DEI Strategy
The importance of communication is paramount in any DEI initiative, but it’s important to choose a platform that helps you get to the right people with the right information at the right time. Cerkl Broadcast does just this.
Designed to meet the needs of organizations who want to communicate and engage with their employees, and fully understand them, Broadcast ensures comms reach employees without getting lost. It allows you to send content to employees based on their interests and what you want them to see.
Comms are sent from a content hub to all channels. When an employee opens the channel they prefer, Broadcast responds dynamically by removing the communication from that employee’s other channels. So there’s no repetition, and employees get to decide which channel to use at any given time.
A successful DEI strategy hinges on effective, streamlined communication. Cerkl Broadcast has the solution. Want to learn more?
Simply, DEI communication is derived from an organization’s DEI initiatives. It shares information with employees and provides a transparent means of communicating through various channels.
A DEI comms strategy is a plan that provides a systematic approach to communication in any DEI initiative.
To communicate with DEI it’s essential to embrace the concept of diversity, equality, and inclusion. Communication needs to be diverse and inclusive so that everyone regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, and so is encouraged to make a meaningful contribution to the organization. Taking cognizance of equity ensures all are treated fairly.
An effective communication checklist provides internal communicators with an effective tool to keep track of the DEI initiative. They provide a roadmap that ensures nothing is unintentionally left out.