If we want to make a genuine difference in our workplace and foster an environment where everyone can thrive, we must understand the power of inclusive communication and how it can revolutionise workplace culture.
Understanding inclusive communication
Inclusive communication goes beyond words.
Take a moment to think about the last awareness or commemorative day your organisation recognised.
Was it meaningful? Did colleagues understand what was being asked of them?
Did it achieve the objectives set? If you're unsure or the answer was no, you may need to question why it was shared and its purpose.
Inclusive communication allows information, ideas, and messages to be shared to ensure equitable access, clear intention, and understanding for individuals of diverse backgrounds, experiences, and abilities.
To do this effectively, create an environment where everyone feels valued, respected, and heard. This can help break down barriers and give people a safe space to contribute and understand the value they bring to the organisation.
Relationships with colleagues are built through conversations, not campaigns, so ask yourself:
- Where can you create conversations that matter?
- How often do you challenge campaigns that are superficial or disconnected from reality?
- Where are the conversations happening that you're not aware of?
- How can you bring colleagues together to work on solutions?
To drive meaningful action, colleagues must feel comfortable expressing their opinions so organisations can tap into the collective intelligence of their workforce.
These conversations shouldn't be about what you are doing wrong but more about where you are right now in cultivating inclusion, where you want to go and what change needs to happen to get there.
Here are some aspects for you to consider to revolutionise workplace culture and build greater inclusion:
Empathy and respect
Inclusive communication requires empathy towards others' perspectives, experiences, and emotions. It involves respecting individuals, valuing their contributions, and recognising their unique identities.
There may be viewpoints you disagree with, and in this situation, it's essential to understand the other person's perspective.
Buster Benson wrote a great article on productive disagreements, an interesting concept to help people have better conversations.
It is imperative to actively listen to others with an open mind, seeking to understand their viewpoints without judgement or interruption. It acknowledges that everyone's voice and experiences are valuable and worthy of consideration.
Ensure you listen to your colleagues and then follow up with what actions you will take to address their issues.
Going silent or not responding promptly will damage trust, and the next time you require feedback, getting people to contribute will be challenging.
Using inclusive language is essential in promoting inclusivity.
It involves avoiding biased or exclusionary terms, stereotypes, and assumptions that may marginalise or discriminate against individuals based on their gender, race, ethnicity, age, disability, or other characteristics.
Creating an inclusive language guide is a great starting point as it'll allow people to understand the organisation's stance on various topics.
If information is accessible to everyone, regardless of background, you will create greater engagement. Consider different communication channels, formats, and technologies to accommodate diverse needs, including the basic needs such as providing alternative formats for visual content, using plain language, and offering captioning services.
Building a culture of inclusivity takes time, and change won't happen overnight; remember, it's about progress, not perfection.
Advita Patel is the founder of CommsRebel and co-author of Building A Culture of Inclusivity, effective internal communication for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion