1. Let your people choose what they want to learn
Your team is diverse, and their learning needs will be, too. While mandatory unconscious bias training or a quick introduction to anti-racism can be good ways to start an organisation’s DEI journey, what about the next, deeper, level of learning?
Giving your people a range of resources for National Inclusion Week will help to demonstrate that DEI isn’t just about one thing, such as race or gender, but is multi-faceted. Perhaps a newly appointed manager will want to know more about how to make equitable promotion decisions?
Or an established member of the team will want to improve their Allyship skills? Online DEI resources can be a cost-effective way of providing a range of different learning for your team.
If you opt for an expert-designed online DEI resource, like MixLEARN, you can empower your people to learn at their own pace, explore areas they may not be comfortable in and self-serve the training they need.
2. Run listening circles (free!)
This is one that’s free to do but does need to be done with care and consideration.
Listening circles are where leaders (the more senior the better) make space to listen to the experiences of others – these are normally underrepresented groups within the organisation. The aim isn’t to reel out the company line, or to quell dissatisfaction, but is simply to listen, hear and learn.
Of course it can’t end there – listening alone doesn’t change an organisation or make it more inclusive, but it does demonstrate an authentic intention by leadership of being willing to have uncomfortable conversations.
If you want to start listening circles in your organisation, check out this article from the NeuroLeadership Institute.
3. Book an inspirational Keynote speaker
Introducing new voices and perspectives into your comms is one of the most powerful ways to foster diverse learning.
DEI Keynote speakers and ‘Lunch & Learns’ are a great way to do this.
A strong speaker will capture the hearts and minds of your people through sharing personal stories which bring diversity issues to life.
Most speakers will make sure they tie their presentation in with your own organisational values, behaviours and mission, so that your team gets a new perspective on why DEI matters in your place of work, and what they can do to create a more inclusive culture.
Sometimes Black and LGBTQ+ speakers in particular are put under pressure to offer their expertise for free.
Before you go down this route, consider whether you would expect the same from someone in a majority group.
4. Give your ERGs a platform to run Lunch & Learns
Seriously limited budget? You’re likely to have a plethora of passionate DEI advocates already under your roof.
Check in with any of your Employee Resource Groups or Networks. Would they like to run an event such as a Lunch & Learn?
Perhaps they could share their own personal stories, or (even better), share what the ERG is doing and encourage Allies to join.
Be sure to work collaboratively to set some specific objectives for the session.
What do you want colleagues who come to the Lunch & Learn to leave with? A better understanding of a specific topic? Feeling inspired that they can make change? Ensuring that your key stakeholders are aligned on the key messaging will help to ensure success.
Giving your ERGs a platform such as this has the side benefit of demonstrating that the organisation trusts them to lead on DEI.
5. Use internal comms to talk about the wins you have made this year
Your organisation may be far from perfect, but there will be great examples of inclusion happening every single day.
If you have an internal comms team, set them to work gathering these stories and sharing them. Perhaps you could film a 90 second vox pop of a senior man who took Shared Parental Leave, or a new employee who had a great first week because they felt so welcomed.
Perhaps your canteen celebrated a Polish tradition such as ‘Fat Thursday’ or made accommodations to support those fasting during Ramadan.
Your HRBPs are likely to know these stories, as are your ERGs.
The key here is that you don’t have to pretend that DEI is fixed – be authentic, but celebrate the wins and show what happens when we intentionally include people.
Whatever you choose to do, take National Inclusion Week as an opportunity to remind your organisation that inclusion isn’t just about marking calendar days or box-ticking.
Inclusion is about the everyday decisions we make to learn more about our colleagues or clients, or the times that we go out of our way to stop our unconscious bias in its tracks.
It’s about applying a ‘DEI lens’ to our systems and policies to ensure that they aren’t unintentionally excluding anyone.
If you’d like support implementing any of the ideas above, or have questions about improving inclusion in your organisation, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
About the Author.
Head of Consulting and Client Director, Mix Diversity
Stef has worked in the field of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion since 2014, specialising in the design of internal D&I Comms, large scale global digital training solutions and leading major Strategic Consultancy projects. She holds a Certificate in Diversity & Inclusion from Cornell University. One of Stef’s primary drivers is helping organisations to unlock the power of their communications and marketing teams as a key driver of culture change.