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Promoting Diversity: Why Inclusive Communication and Involvement Matter

Bassam Kaado
Bassam Kaado
Business News Daily Contributing Writer
Updated Jan 23, 2023

Ensure everyone on your team feels included and respected, and expand this inclusivity outward.

  • Specialized training and workshops can help organizations ensure diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
  • Employers should encourage employees to analyze their behaviors and assumptions, and provide the guidance, training, and tools necessary to move past biases.
  • Employers are responsible for providing all employees with a safe working environment — free from discrimination and harassment.
  • This article is for small business owners looking to incorporate diversity and inclusion in their workplace communications and office culture.

As a business owner, you want everyone on your team to feel included and respected. But creating an inclusive workplace means more than hiring people from diverse backgrounds. It requires creating an open and safe company culture where people communicate with respectful language, various perspectives and contributions are honored, and everyone feels equally involved. 

We’ll explore how you can promote diversity in your organization, adopt inclusive communication practices, and increase employee trust and commitment. 

Getting started with inclusive communication

After committing to inclusive communication in the workplace, business owners must get all employees on board. When your employees are committed to diversity and inclusion, they’ll be open to examining their behavior and making necessary changes.

Once everyone’s on board, here are some concrete steps to take: 

  • Examine social biases: Business owners, managers and team members alike should examine their behaviors and assumptions to learn how unconscious biases affect others. Provide professional guidance, training and tools so your team members can learn the source of their biases, as well as how to move past them. A typical response is for people to be defensive and say they are not biased. They automatically think they’re being told they’re “bad people.” Proper training can help remove those negative feelings. 
  • Start employee resource groups (ERGs): ERGs are employee volunteers who want to help create a more diverse and inclusive workforce. ERGs often focus on a characteristic, such as gender or ethnicity, with the goal of supporting group members’ career development and personal wellness. ERGs create a safe space for employees and help marginalized groups feel more connected. ERGs may invite allies to join to learn from and support their co-workers. 
  • Diversify your team: You can diversify your team by hiring people of different backgrounds. This brings different perspectives to the organization while employees get to know people from different backgrounds. Diversity in your team can also help address the workplace gender gap and improve the company culture

TipTip: Clearly state your commitment to diversity in your company’s mission statement and other documentation. One small step you can take to create a culture of inclusion is to normalize stating one’s pronouns in bios or introductions rather than assuming colleagues’ pronouns.

Educating employees on inclusive communication 

It’s crucial for employers to provide effective diversity and inclusivity guidance, training, and tools to everyone in the organization. Here are some possible training topics:

  • Learn how to listen and speak with inclusivity
  • Acknowledge unconscious bias
  • Understand microaggressions

Learn how to speak and listen with inclusivity.

Morgann Freeman is an entrepreneur, activist and founder of The Collective, a local network of professionals and advocates. Using her background in marketing and advertising, Freeman runs an inclusive communications consulting business to improve how companies interact with their employees and clients.

“I focus on changing the way we approach how we talk to and interact with – verbally and nonverbally – one another in personal, organizational and global contexts,” Freeman said.

Businesses like Freeman’s offer diversity and inclusion workshops and training, which help a company understand diversity through daily interactions. Rather than providing textbook definitions of complicated concepts, she helps business leaders understand better listening and speaking techniques.

“True progress happens by changing the way you talk about things,” Freeman said. “You cannot be an inclusive organization when you use exclusionary language.” 

Acknowledge unconscious biases.

Employees should acknowledge their unconscious biases, genuinely listen and dismiss their preconceived notions. By understanding their cultural biases and altering their language, employees can better understand and communicate with those from different backgrounds, especially for the benefit of the company and its services.

“Stripping away … the ‘us vs. them’ mentality allows your team to really build an empathetic understanding of diverse identities,” Freeman said.

Understand microaggressions.

Microaggressions are subtle insults, which may be intentional or unintentional. They’re also a pervasive problem in many workplaces. Regardless of employees’ intentions, these comments can create a tense and exclusive environment not welcoming to colleagues. To reduce microaggressions in your business, invest in company education to discuss diversity in a productive atmosphere. 

How inclusive communication affects the entire business 

Inclusive communication is also crucial when dealing with your customers. Freeman pointed out that inclusive communication should inform your customer service channels and how your business interacts with audiences over social media. For example, you should have inclusive communication policies surrounding how your business responds to comments on Facebook or mentions on Twitter.

If you can improve communication, your business has the potential to increase and expand audiences while maintaining customer satisfaction from existing clients. These techniques can also improve employee happiness, office morale and staff relationships, Freeman noted.

Key TakeawayKey takeaway: To create a successful diversity training program, businesses must look inward, find out what’s going on in the organization, assess the company culture, and identify unresolved conflicts and issues.

How diverse entrepreneurs can get ahead 

Diversity in the business world is an ongoing conversation in U.S. society. Entrepreneurs and small business owners from marginalized backgrounds – including those related to race, socioeconomic class and gender – face more challenges when starting their own businesses. This is especially true in less-diverse areas of the United States, like the Midwest.

Fortunately, diverse business owners have resources to help them succeed. Here are two examples:

  • Small Business Majority is a national resource that aims to empower diverse entrepreneurs. The organization helps entrepreneurs network with more than 85,000 small businesses and 1,500 business and community organizations so their small businesses can grow and thrive. Small Business Majority offers a wide array of education resources, focusing on helping navigate systemic inequities. The organization currently operates out of 24 states.
  • Cyversity is a tech education organization co-founded by an African American cybersecurity veteran. Cyversity was created to improve the representation of women and underrepresented minorities in the cybersecurity industry. A 501(c)3 nonprofit association, Cyversity creates programming to help minority cybersecurity students and professionals improve their skills, gain mentorship and get opportunities.

The trend toward diversity and inclusion

Diverse and inclusive companies are growing worldwide, integrating various skills, abilities, genders, races, and ethnicities to create a safe and supportive environment for all. 

While becoming diverse and inclusive is the right thing for businesses to do, customers also respond to businesses that take on more social responsibility. Top-level companies that support racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have improvised financial returns, according to McKinsey. Per data from The Manifest, companies that prioritize diversity are also 70% more likely to attract top talent and boost employee retention.

Adryan Corcione contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

Image Credit: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock
Bassam Kaado
Bassam Kaado
Business News Daily Contributing Writer
Bassam Kaado is a New Jersey based writer, communications specialist, and artist. He has over a decade of freelance and small business Public Relations and Marketing experience that includes both B2C and B2B focuses. He has over a decade of experience as a copywriter, ghostwriter, and copy editor, in both business and creative disciplines. Bassam also has worked within the entertainment business and is an active artist.