Belonging, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (BDEI) initiatives are crucial for creating harmonious and productive workplaces. However, effectively communicating these projects to employees can be challenging. This blog post explores the main challenges and offers practical solutions, drawing from my experience in such projects, internal and change communication and passion for creating positive workplace experiences.
Challenge 1: Resistance to change
One of the biggest hurdles in communicating BDEI projects is overcoming resistance to change. Employees may be comfortable with the status quo and view DEI initiatives as disruptive.
Solution: Inclusive storytelling
To address this, inclusive storytelling is a good option. Stories that reflect diverse experiences foster empathy and understanding. At EY, they have used storytelling to sidestep bias, create a psychologically-safe workplace and raise awareness of other’s experiences (Vunder, 2022).
Challenge 2: Lack of awareness or understanding
Employees may not fully grasp the importance of BDEI or how it benefits them.
Solution: Educational campaigns
Develop educational campaigns that provide clear, relatable information on BDEI. This could include workshops, webinars, and resource-sharing. But first ensure that you have checked the level of knowledge of your workforce on BDEI so that you can offer them personalized materials.
Challenge 3: Perception of tokenism
Some employees might view BDEI initiatives as token gestures rather than meaningful change.
Solution: Authentic engagement
To combat this perception, ensure that BDEI efforts are authentic and integrated into the company’s core values. Engage employees in open dialogues and include their feedback in the DEI process. Professor Sue Fletcher-Watson of Edinburgh University points to co-production, a participatory research method that could move BDEI initiative from tokenism to authentic change (Doyle, 2023).
Challenge 4: One-size-fits-all approach
DEI communication can fail if it does not consider the diverse backgrounds and needs of employees.
Solution: Tailored communication strategies
Create tailored communication strategies that consider cultural, linguistic, and individual differences. In her book, “Leading Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion“, Dr. Rohini Anand wrote that ‘every country has its own legacy of hurt’ and so while BDEI initiatives need to follow a strategy, they need to be localized to the place where they are being applied (Anand, 2021).
Challenge 5: Lack of measurable goals
Without clear, measurable goals, BDEI initiatives can seem abstract and unattainable.
Solution: SMART goal setting and Know-Feel-Do
Set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART) goals for DEI initiatives. Communicate these goals and progress regularly to keep employees informed and engaged.
In other words
Communicating BDEI initiatives to employees presents unique challenges, but with thoughtful strategies, these can be effectively addressed. By employing inclusive storytelling, educational campaigns, authentic engagement, tailored communication strategies, and setting SMART goals, organizations can foster a more inclusive, equitable, and diverse workplace.
- Anand, R. Leading Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
- Doyle, N. 2023. Co-production: How to move beyond token gestures for diversity and inclusion in 2023.
- Vunder, M. 2022. What can storytelling teach your leaders about diversity and inclusion.
Engaging employees in DEI projects is not just about disseminating information but about creating a shared vision for a better, more inclusive workplace.#