At our annual thought leadership event DRPGBIGtalk last year, June Sarpong, the BBC’s Director of Creative Diversity gave a fantastic talk on the power of diversity and inclusion and what we as creative communications professionals can do to drive it forward in business.
See the full keynote session here:
“Diversity may be the hardest thing for a society to live with, and perhaps the most dangerous thing for a society to be without.” - William Sloane Coffin
Productivity – obviously including diversity and inclusion on the business agenda is the moral thing to do but as that message is not landing, we have to look at commercial benefits. Diversity and inclusion is increasingly being acknowledged as a source of competitive advantage in business. We’ve talked about this in more depth in our blog Does diversity and inclusion have an effect on productivity?
Changing demography – by 2030 42% of the world’s youth will be from or on the African continent. If you’re not effectively communicating with this rise of young people that are going to shape the future, then you will cease to be relevant in a very short space of time.
It’s not just the right or nice thing to do but the vital thing to do if you want to futureproof your business.
So how can communication professionals embrace diversity and help their leaders communicate more effectively and without fear of getting it wrong? The role of the comms professional is such an important one, as they are the bridge between the CEO and the message to the outside world. Comms pros need to guide their leaders to help get the message and actions right. They are also dealing with how people view organisations so are best placed to relay messaging back and forth.
As people in a position to change the make-up and culture of the organisation they work for, comms pros have a responsibility to create equal opportunity, and shape the kind of culture that allows people to believe in themselves and deliver their best.
According to June there are some simple steps to start your personal journey and make yourself an ally for change from her book Diversify. Six Degrees of Integration:
1) Challenge your ism – address your unconscious bias and blind spots
2) Check your circle
3) Create a new connection
4) Acknowledge and celebrate difference
5) Champion the cause
Here are some of June’s top tips for you to help drive diversity and inclusion in your organisation and within your comms:
Be willing to learn:
Be open, honest and transparent. Be ok with not knowing when it comes to this issue. Surround yourself with people who are better versed and learn from them.
Engage with customers from different backgrounds. You will be getting closer to them as an audience and helping inform yourself of how they engage with your messaging.
Have ambassadors/ champions:
It’s important to have people in the company with that lens on, who look at all actions of company activities to check they are moving in the right direction.
Set achievable and measurable goals:
Most companies have a long road to travel, so let’s be realistic. Set timelines and have a deadline to achieve your goals.
Take a look at recruitment:
Find new ways to source talent. If you have a diverse team, you will automatically get the diversity balance correct in any comms.
Try, try, try:
Listen and allow creative teams to experiment. People are so scared of getting it wrong, but if you create a safe space where people feel comfortable experimenting you will find diversity shine through.
To watch June’s session in full please click here.
To find out more about diversity and inclusion take a look at our D&I in the Workplace Report to find out the results of our in depth research or check out some of our other blogs such as What is the difference between diversity and inclusion? Are we getting diversity and inclusion right in the UK? And How diversity and inclusion has an effect on employee engagement.