And this isn’t just about being seen to do the right thing or a stat’s exercise for good HR PR. Market Watch research shows that companies with a diverse staff are better positioned to meet the needs of a diverse customer base (which must be a surprise to precisely no-one!) and that the cash flows of companies who actively seek out talent from under-represented groups are well over twice that of those who don’t.
Diverse companies are 70% more likely to capture new markets than those who do not actively recruit and support talent from under-represented groups.
Most employers have an I&D policy of some description. But the more pertinent point is how well we live by these and how effectively we implement them in our everyday duties? For example, does our internal comms strategy follow the rules and guidelines that we set ourselves in these policies?
Are all of our internal comms accessible, and as engaging as possible, to all? Are we recognising and appreciating all of the people in our organisation, even if they don’t directly add to the bottom line? Here are a few top tips to help us engage with a diverse workforce:
The visuals with our comms matter
Images and video are an increasingly popular and important method of internal comms. Images can convey complex information more simply and efficiently than the written or spoken word. They can even help to overcome language barriers. But are we using images that represent all of our people and beyond? Oversights here are usually made in all innocence, with time-pressures a frequent reason. Sometimes, however we fall into the trap of going for the “traditionally corporate” which can appear non-inclusive?
Always go for full accessibility with your comms
Keep the language you use simple and appropriate for all of your intended audience. Avoid an avalanche of acronyms that some may not be familiar with. The same goes for unnecessarily technical terms. Ask yourself if a new starter would understand all of your message. There could, after all, be new starters actually reading your message!)
Captions & subtitles are always a good idea with video and can be added automatically (Fanclub disclaimer: with varying degrees of accuracy!) by pretty affordable software and apps. Not only are they a lifeline for those that need them for reasons of impairment, but also because over 80% of people tend to watch videos with the sound off.
Recognition is king
An active and well-promoted recognition and appreciation platform is a fantastic way of shouting about the great things that your people do and bring to the organisation. Provided everyone has access to the platform, a peer-to-peer platform embodies inclusivity by giving everyone the chance to recognise, and be recognised, for their actions and positive behaviours, even those that are in roles that aren’t usually recognised by traditional performance-related bonus and reward schemes. By recognising and appreciating support, kindness, generosity of spirit, great ideas, cross-departmental working, training, customer-care or doing a sterling job of cleaning the office and making the brews, everyone is in scope for some love!
Listening is at least as important as talking
A bit like with the above, what better way to be inclusive than to invite your people to be involved? Knowledge is power and nobody learned anything worth knowing with their ears closed. The more you know about your people, about how they’re thinking and feeling, the better you will connect and engage, and the more included your people will feel.
Watch your language
As well as the previous advice about avoiding acronyms and heavy tech-speak, watch out for relaxed parlance and terms of affection that could make some feel uncomfortable or excluded. “Guys”, “girls”, “lads” or “ladies”, for example, may not be well-received by those that aren’t, or don’t identify with those genders or their perceived ages. Similarly, beware of the over-familiar (it can make some feel awkward and is not nice for those that aren’t on the receiving end).
Humour and (bad) language need to be watched carefully. You don’t have to be stuffy and corporate in all of your comms, but few will appreciate discriminatory humour or expletives. Remember that lines of acceptability will vary from person to person, and you need to be perfectly acceptable to your most conservative of employees.
In short, inclusivity in your comms and recognition is crucial to maintaining and celebrating the all-important diversity in your organisation. Nobody wants to feel excluded, and a monochrome workforce will not benefit your business.