Communicating Inclusion for Stronger Teams and Happier Employees

What’s the difference between diversity and inclusion? 

Someone once described it to me like this: Diversity is getting invited to the ball; inclusion is being asked to dance. 

I love this metaphor and I think it helps explain why we need to focus not just on creating diverse teams, but making sure that everyone can participate equally, regardless of their background. 

June is Pride Month in Canada and many other parts of the world. It’s the perfect opportunity to focus on inclusion in the workplace. Below, we share some tips for creating a more inclusive culture - we’re focussed on Pride, but many of these ideas can be replicated for better including all diverse communities.


How can organizations use communication to help create a more inclusive culture?

Let’s get something straight (no pun intended). Communication can’t, on its own, create inclusivity. This has to be led from the top, with the infrastructure and resources to make it happen. But, culture is contagious, and communication can help inclusivity spread, in all the best ways.

Here are some ways you can get the ball rolling in your organization. 

Create an Allies Program

Allies, for those unfamiliar with the term, are straight-identifying individuals who are actively supportive of LGBTQ+ colleagues. Allies play a vital role in creating a visibly safe, judgment-free environment. 

A former colleague once said to me that simply seeing colleagues wearing an Ally pin on their lanyard dramatically lowered their anxiety levels, because it allowed them to bring their full self to work without fear.

Visibility is one of the most important parts of an allies program. Make sure allies stand out, with items like rainbow pins, ribbons or lanyards. Launch the allies program across multiple internal communication channels, and make it easy to find and join (for example, you could consider a dedicated link on the intranet homepage). 

It’s also a good idea to help your allies in their role, by making sure they understand the right language and terminology to use, and how to demonstrate inclusive behaviours - for example, checking which pronouns a person prefers. 


Have leaders recognize Pride Month

Leadership is essential for creating an inclusive culture: employees look to their leaders for clues on cultural norms and behaviours, so making sure that senior team members are prepared to communicate about inclusivity is essential. 

Leaders can help recognize and celebrate Pride Month by mentioning it in key communications, internally and externally, such as speeches, newsletters or video messages. For organizations celebrating Pride, leaders should be encouraged to show their support by wearing rainbow or ally program merchandise, and attending and speaking at Pride events. 


Storytelling

Storytelling is the most powerful way to build empathy. 

With public social changes like the legalization of gay marriage, the full decriminalization of homosexuality and so on, it’s easy to feel like there’s no more discrimination against LGBTQ+ communities. With that can come questions in the workplace about why we continue to celebrate Pride.

Asking willing community members to share their stories about why Pride is important to them, can help build understanding and greater levels of connection. 

This translates to myriad benefits for employees and organizations, including improved mental health for LGBTQ+ team members, stronger teams and an inclusive culture that supports talent retention. 

Want some tips on how to do this? Check out our recent blog on storytelling.

If you’d like some more great ideas on meaningfully celebrating Pride at work, this article is a good one.

Tell us, how are you celebrating Pride Month in your workplace?