Communicating D&I Initiatives Publicly – Risky or Rewarding?

Acknowledging that we can all do better with our Diversity & Inclusion efforts is of paramount importance for every business. This sentiment has been shared over and over across our client roster and within our own agency walls. In fact, according to Deloitte Insights, more than two-thirds (69 percent) of executives rate diversity and inclusion a critical issue. The intentions are well-meaning and true. The efforts and programs toward more diverse and inclusive workplaces are all created to move the needle in the right direction.

The question we need to ask ourselves is, “is what we are doing for our D&I initiative something worth sharing publicly?” I was recently in a social media workshop with a client, brainstorming topics for content. One well-meaning participant suggested, “we should really talk about our D&I work.” My response was, “what makes your work different and groundbreaking from other companies? Do you have real results you can share?” The answers were, “not really anything, and not yet.”

Sometimes it’s difficult to take hard look inward at the realities, not the aspirations, of diversity within our businesses. In fact, a report by Bloomberg found that although a majority of organizations (71 percent) aspire, within three years, to have an “inclusive” culture, only 11 percent report that they currently have one. There is a very careful balance we must contemplate as communications professionals when considering whether to promote our D&I initiatives. We run the risk of coming off as disingenuous or simply “checking off the D&I box on our ‘to do’ list.”

Just as we carefully communicate our corporate social responsibility and philanthropic efforts, we need to also consider how we can genuinely position ourselves within the D&I space. And, maybe most importantly, not give ourselves undeserved credit in this important, and sensitive, area.

That’s not to say that we all shouldn’t work hard to accomplish more diverse and welcoming workplaces and businesses – it is to say that we all need to be careful about how much public praise we give ourselves, and share with others, about those efforts.

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Sara Hood
Vice President, PR/Social Director