Communication is one of the most sensitive activities in developing, implementing and managing an effective Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) strategy. Without a solid internal communication plan, managers who are in charge of the day-to-day implementation of D&I efforts may not understand what is expected of them, and may become disengaged from the corporate plan. If employees do not know and understand what the long-term goals are, they may feel that D&I is not a priority for their company.
Communicating a company's commitment to D&I internally is crucial, but there is also a strong correlation between a company's ongoing commitment to diversity and its brand leadership. Leading companies use communications and marketing actions to tap into the enormous growth potential of diverse markets. Whether internally or externally, through the internet, print media or word of mouth, the importance of a strong marketing and communications strategy cannot be underestimated in conveying the company's D&I plan.
Our aim here is to provide an insight and methodology for all companies (large and small, local and multinational) to create an overall communication and marketing plan to support the diversity and inclusion efforts they are undertaking. We would therefore answer the following questions:
- How should an organisation develop a communication plan that focuses on its D&I strategy?
- Who should be involved in the communication and marketing process?
- How to measure the impact of communication and marketing initiatives linked to D&I?
- What types of communication and marketing tools should organisations develop to gain maximum visibility in relation to D&I?
The communication plan should present a comprehensive vision of how each of the core components of the D&I strategy will be reported. We highlight three main blocks on which it should focus:
Learning and development
and with the media
Key people to involve
When developing the communication plan, it is important to consider that other areas of the company can be of great help in our objective. Collaboration between the following teams is a key element:
• Internal communications can develop, design and write internal materials such as programme and event announcements.
• External communication can create and edit brochures, press releases and handle media enquiries.
• HR can review materials to ensure that HR policies and processes are not being violated. It can also identify external partnerships with which to collaborate to attract diverse talent.
• Marketing can identify external partnerships in which it can collaborate. They can also help develop ideas for articles and review them.
• Legal can review materials, particularly if external articles are being written on controversial topics that will put the company at risk.
• Community relations can help identify external partnerships with which it can collaborate to strengthen the company's visibility as a strong corporate citizen.
• Security can review articles and provide feedback to ensure that messages are in sync with the diversity mission and that the images used comply with security protocols.
• Unions can help review articles and advertisements submitted by union representatives to ensure that what is said or shown is not misinterpreted as a violation of a union agreement.
The most successful companies understand that their growth and development depends, to a large extent, on having a sustainable global diversity and inclusion plan in place and communicating it effectively.
Maintaining and developing a commitment to diversity and inclusion, from the office to the marketplace, from suppliers to consumers, requires extensive internal and external communication, across functions and geographies. However, building a strong and trusted diversity and inclusion brand that comes to life through meaningful action is not a quick and easy task. It requires time, dedication, resources and, above all, a true conviction that diversity and inclusion are a vital corporate asset.
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