Many companies are having conversations about inclusivity and its importance in the workplace, and how to serve people of all backgrounds better. Yet, there is no question that the work required to become wholly inclusive is an internal undertaking.
Suppose your content does not include BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color), LGBTQ+ or disabled persons. In that case, you are missing out on a sweeping majority of the market and, worse, you risk offending your audience and damaging your brand. In 2021, make it a goal to create messaging that is not just engaging but promotes diversity and inclusivity.
Wondering where to start for such an essential aspect of your business?
It can seem overwhelming to learn and unlearn what has worked and what has not. But, rest assured, your employees and clients will be thankful for your efforts in creating content that is diverse and welcoming to all.
Getting your messaging right begins with you and your business before it ever reaches your audience. You must first commit to authentically creating an inclusive environment for your team and those you want to welcome into your brand experience.
Three Ways to Get Started with Inclusivity & Diversity:
1. Education: Educate yourself and your team by addressing any biases you may hold. Doing this will help you to avoid the unintentional use of offensive or exclusive language in your copy on your website, social media and contracts. Consider looking into LGBTQ+ certification courses, which provide training materials to teach you and your team how to be truly inclusive, both in intention and action.
2. Intentionality: In striving to create a messaging strategy that reflects your values, knowing the intention behind what and why you create will serve you well. To serve as an ally within the BIPOC, LGBTQ and other underserved communities, you must first understand the basics of allyship and what it looks like to show up for marginalized groups in a not performative way.
3. Integration: Another strategy for developing effective messaging is to embrace the fundamentals of diversity and inclusivity in your business practices. In essence, put your money where your mouth is. A major downfall for many companies in the immediate action taken at the height of an important issue or problem plaguing marginalized groups.
The work must start from within. For example, in the summer of 2020, many companies claimed to be allies to the Black Lives Matter movement. Yet, companies quickly came under fire due to the lack of representation and inclusivity of their boards, teams and more.
Your brand messaging must communicate your business’s beliefs and actions to align with your allyship and it must be authentic.
As a business owner, integrating diversity and inclusion into your everyday practices is a must. Taking action can mean revisiting your hiring process to eliminate prejudice, partner with vendors in the BIPOC community, and create an environment that does not hold inherent and damaging biases. When you are ready to make your diversity and inclusion values known, it starts with tailoring your copy to express your stance on social issues clearly.
How to Make Diversity in Your Business Messaging More Welcoming:
Graphics: Every business owner knows the hard work that goes into graphic design. We live in a world driven by visuals, which serve as avenues to promote events, products and more. A picture is worth a thousand words, which is why your marketing imagery must do the talking for you.
Suppose you are a wedding planner with a beautifully designed website that displays weddings that feature BIPOC and LGBTQ+ couples to demonstrate your inclusive values. Showcasing a variety of clients will highlight to potential clients that you work with all sorts of couples.
Graphic designers should always create content that is reflective of the world as a whole.
Demographics: As a company, you have an ideal customer or client that you like to work with most. You must always ask whether your business is geared toward a specific community. If it is, are you unintentionally excluding anyone else? There isn’t anything wrong with selling to a particular audience. However, if your messaging is exclusionary based on race, gender, sexual orientation or able-bodiedness, it is worth reconsidering how you can better foster diversity.
Communication: Messaging helps businesses connect and build relationships with their customers. But when it feels inauthentic it severs that relationship. When matters arise, whether social or political, it is essential that your company already has a voice for inclusion rather than being one that rises to the occasion only when a problem presents itself.
Maintain an environment that is actively welcoming to all.
It takes time to learn and unlearn behaviors that have historically affected employers and employees negatively in the workplace. Fortunately, diverse and inclusive culture is attainable and will fuel an environment driven by respect, trust and commitment.
We are all in need of a celebration of diversity and inclusion. As a small business owner, you can set yourself and your company up for success. Take a step further in your learning of inclusion and diversity with this video, Coffee Chat With a Race & Ethnicity Expert, in which Brandon Harris, M.A. breaks down the sociological concepts of race to give you and your company clear steps to becoming anti-racist in today’s modern society.
Commit today to create an environment conducive to growth, respect, diversity and inclusion towards your employees and your audience.