Everybody deserves the right to feel accepted and included, both inside and outside of work. For this reason, employers are intensifying their focus on measures that support diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I). However, in large workforces that are becoming increasingly dispersed, supporting and measuring DE&I can be a challenge. This is where many internal communicators look to modern intranet software to help.
There are many reasons why employers are focusing on DE&I. Despite evidence from McKinsey which highlights that diverse teams perform better, the decision to champion DE&I in the workplace should come down to the far more human reason that it is simply the right thing to do, and not as a tick-box exercise, but as an initiative to give every employee that basic right to feel accepted, respected, and even celebrated in their working lives.
We’re living in a time when polarizing forces can create deep societal divisions and feelings of isolation for people who don’t feel recognized or represented. The onus is on every source of power in society, including employers, to make sure nobody in their care has to feel this way. Therefore, DE&I is not just about making people feel accepted, but educating those who may be less sensitive to the needs of co-workers who don’t feel accepted, respected, or represented.
The role internal comms plays in supporting DE&I
Being a diverse and inclusive business that promotes equity requires buy-in from every employee, from the senior leadership to the frontline. It’s often the job of the internal comms team to help secure this buy-in by sharing and instilling the vision and the behaviors required to be a truly diverse and inclusive organization.
When company values are frequently communicated to all employees, it helps to ensure the organization doesn’t just choose a set of values but actually lives by them. In turn, this builds integrity, trust, and a sense of belonging. However, internal comms people are embroiled in a constant battle for attention. Charged with driving up employee engagement, they are increasingly relying on digital tools and intranet platforms that help organizations cut through the noise and reach every person in the organization with accessible communication. If they can’t achieve this then how can every employee feel included?
This is becoming increasingly important as remote and hybrid working means the distance between those working in centralized locations and those working remotely makes DE&I harder to measure and ensure. Employees want to identify and grow with the organization they work for, and Internal comms and HR professionals want to make this possible while gaining their trust and making them feel valued. Modern intranet software is the glue that binds all of these things together.
Every business should continually be striving for better DE&I, and these six points illustrate why an intranet is crucial when it comes to supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion at work:
1. Measuring inclusion
Measuring inclusion is one of the most important steps you can take in supporting DE&I. An intranet that allows you to run regular Pulse surveys, and helps you to analyze the results easily, will help your organization to identify whether people feel like they belong, and how it can be better at making everybody feel comfortable and included.
Regular surveys can also help to uncover any unintentional biases that are present in the organization and provide an opportunity to address them. Surveys can also be used to measure opinions on the organization’s policies and discover areas that need to be improved in a DE&I strategy.
Generalizing employees should be avoided when measuring inclusion, which is why it pays to use an intranet platform that allows comms people to analyze responses from different persona groups. Comms people will benefit from understanding how employees are viewing policies and discussing issues, and this information can be highly valuable when coupled with data from Pulse surveys around DE&I. An intranet that allows these data sets to be easily combined and analyzed will be integral to piecing together the bigger picture when it comes to understanding employee sentiment.
2. Inviting everybody to join the conversation
While Pulse surveys are a crucial part of understanding how effective your DE&I strategy is, employees should also be given free rein to express their thoughts and feelings outside of those surveys. Your people need to be brought into wider conversations that can take place on an internal communications platform.
Historically, internal communication took a one-way, top-down ‘push’ approach. As organizations realized that this left no room for employees to contribute to the conversation, they have increasingly chosen modern intranet solutions that enable employees to feedback and to express their thoughts or feelings also.
Not only do features such as a homepage feed, comment sections on company posts, employee blogs, and forums provide opportunities for everybody to share their thoughts, the platform can inspire increased engagement from employees who are less comfortable airing their feelings in front of their co-workers in person.
Interact customer Alexander Mann Solutions’ intranet features a dedicated DE&I section accessible from a prominent location in the top menu. It is regularly updated with news, events, and articles, and provides an overall picture of the DE&I strategy along with access to different strands on DE&I within the organization.
As more conversations around DE&I themes are instigated, and as more people engage with them, those less confident employees will be inspired to join in with the conversations. In turn, the company culture becomes closer and richer, with every employee feeling more valued by being given opportunities to speak and be heard.
3. Communicating and embedding behaviors and values
A flexible intranet that allows quick and easy homepage customization can be a great platform for communicating and embedding behaviors and values that support DE&I. Timely communications around DE&I issues, spotlight blogs on specific themes, surveys, and policy pages, can all be made instantly accessible for employees browsing the intranet home page.
A platform that provides an extensive range of drag and drop icons that can be adjusted and resized, and adapted to particular visual styles quickly and easily, makes it as simple as possible for communicators and content publishers to promote DE&I-related content without lengthy back-and-forth conversations with IT.
An intranet that supports multiple homepage experiences: for example, a homepage that prominently displays a company values section, could be shown to new starters or employees whom survey data shows are less aware of company values.
4. Providing dedicated spaces for DE&I discussions
Of course, DE&I discussions should be encouraged across your organization, and not just on your internal communications platform, but having dedicated spaces for DE&I discussions can be incredibly empowering for employees and will help to enrich the whole organization. Interact customer AllianceBernstein hosts multiple cross-divisional employee resource groups on its intranet, and these have advanced the sense of belonging and connection to the wider organization in traditionally under-represented groups.
Employee resource groups not only give people the confidence that they can start or join important conversations in a space specifically set up for that very purpose – it hands them the power to instigate conversations on DE&I topics that may not have been covered, rather than feeling they can only weigh in on themes pushed from the top down. For the rest of the organization, these topics can be educational and enriching, helping to shift mindsets and understand the world from other people’s perspectives. In turn, this helps co-workers be more mindful of one another.
Many intranets will provide some basic form of a forum, but an intranet with advanced forum features can help to uncover the knowledge and expertise that will enrich conversations, and remove the time and effort that moderating a forum typically demands.
5. Reaching every employee
There’s no guarantee every employee will read important messaging, whether that’s updates to DE&I policies, or more educational DE&I-related content.
An intranet that enables multichannel messaging in your broadcasts can help ensure the content reaches everyone. This should include options to deploy messages across a number of different channels such as intranet homepage banners, SMS, email, push notifications, and digital signage. Messaging that is tailored to different segments of the workforce can be deployed through the channels they are most receptive to, such as warehouse operatives who may be easiest to reach through digital signage, or field sales operatives who are best reached via SMS or push notifications.
When it comes to deploying key DE&I communications, it helps to know who they have been read by. The right intranet should provide visibility of who has read your broadcasts, and provide the option to re-deploy those communications at the click of a button, targeting only the individuals who didn’t open them the first time, without spamming those who did.
6. Adapting the language of DE&I comms for globally dispersed teams
While language can break barriers, it can also inadvertently create them. By communicating with employees across dispersed global regions in one language, comms teams can risk weakening the power of the messaging they’re sharing. On the other hand, tailoring communications to the language preferences of employees in different global regions, and providing a native user experience, can support inclusivity and nurture a culture of respect. Yet third-party translation services can be slow, inaccurate, and costly.
An intranet that enables multilingual communication and removes the hard work of translating content multiple times over, provides accuracy and should come as standard, meaning no additional cost. On-demand machine translation included in intranet software will take content written in one tongue and autonomously translate it into employees’ native languages, which not only removes the language barriers to inclusivity, it also ensures consistency, provides personalization, and encourages participation.
Making your DE&I communications meaningful
Taking a proactive approach to DE&I helps organizations build connections with and gain trust from their employees, but more importantly, it helps people feel safe and accepted which should be a basic right for everyone in any workforce. The right intranet software should provide the tools to help your organization understand and address the DE&I needs of your workforce, as well as embedding core values and behaviors, and continually making positive changes that keep everybody, happy, engaged, and feeling that they belong.