Are you familiar with the EDI (Equity, Diversity, Inclusion) approach?
It’s a tool that organizations can use to become more inclusive, more equitable and more representative of society’s needs. EDI helps better shape your organization’s structure and actions, avoid discrimination and bias, and guide internal and external communications so that they align with and demonstrate your commitment as an organization.
This post explores how an EDI approach should be reflected through an inclusive communication model and provides concrete ways to do so.
The purpose of EDI
Being attuned to the needs of all members of society is the first step towards an engaging approach.
More than 22% of the Canadian population identifies as belonging to a visible minority (Statistics Canada, 2016)
20% of the Canadian population aged 15 and over has at least one disability (sensory, neurological, cognitive, physical) that limits daily activities (2017 Canadian Survey on Disability [CSD])
13% of the Canadian population identifies as sexually and gender diverse (Fondation Jasmin Roy, CROP Survey, 2017)
The impact of EDI on your organization
By adopting an EDI approach, organizations strengthen their human values and in turn:
Create a healthy, respectful work environment where people enjoy working;
Reflect these values in their customer experience;
Make a positive impact on society.
Integrating EDI into your communication strategy
All about the culture
It’s important to stress that an inauthentic approach will never have the desired effect. For people to be convinced of your desire to do better, they must first see that it is the result of good intentions and not just empty words. They need to “see” it, hear it, feel it and experience it.
An EDI approach must therefore be supported by the entire management team, so that the words and actions of leaders and managers are clear, engaging and credible, both internally and externally. Only by fostering an environment where respect, thoughtfulness and open discussion are encouraged will organizations be able to convince employees, partners and clients of their good intentions.
Events that celebrate diversity
Organizing activities is one way to help raise awareness among your employees and clients about equity, diversity and inclusion issues in society.
Prioritizing the following actions when brainstorming and implementing these activities will help foster a respectful process and authentic dialogue:
- Recognize the people who are directly affected by these issues by letting them speak and avoiding unconscious biases that those who are not affected may have.
- Take a good look at your organization and its people. Every member of your team has a story to tell, issues to raise and culturally-rich contributions to make.
- Ask your team members, anonymously or otherwise, what social issues are important to them (e.g., gender equality, First Nations, physical disabilities, mental health, LGBTQ2S+ community, ethnic diversity, etc.).
- Base your internal and external actions on the conclusions of these reflective activities.
- Involve the affected people in the process of creating events.
In certain languages like in French, inclusivity can also be reflected through a writing style that promotes identity inclusion and uses neutral language. However, from an EDI perspective, certain inclusive writing techniques tend to complexify words or make them difficult to read for some people therefore should be used sparingly and with care.
Improving document accessibility
Are the layout and format of your internal and external documents accessible? When documents are more accessible, a wider range of people, including those with visual impairments, can read and understand them.
Here are some tips inspired by Employment and Social Development Canada’s guide:
- Use simple, easy-to-read fonts such as Arial, Calibri, Helvetica, etc;
- Use bold rather than italics or capital letters, and use underlining only for hyperlinks;
- Provide an outline at the beginning of the document and organize information clearly;
- Avoid technical abbreviations.
To test how accessible your documents are, try using the Microsoft Accessibility Checker.
On social media
Here are some tips to improve accessibility and inclusiveness on social media:
- Use hashtags sparingly and try to capitalize the first letter of each word;
- Choose emojis based on their definition. Each emoji comes with its own description, which screen readers can read aloud. Emoji definitions can be checked on sites like Emojipedia. Remember that the meaning and interpretation of emojis may vary and can change depending on the group or person being addressed;
- Avoid superimposing text over images;
- Add subtitles or captions to your videos;
- Add a description (alt text) in the settings for every photo you post.
Beware of stock images
It’s important to choose images that reflect the diversity of your organization and society in general. However, some free image sites tend to misrepresent diversity (e.g., Indigenous people portrayed in a stereotypical way, or disabled people shown in a position of vulnerability). Websites such as TONL or Pic&Pick are useful sources of inclusive stock images.
Adopting an EDI approach will help your organization put social responsibility at the heart of its operations, foster a healthy corporate culture, improve internal communications and choose a more thoughtful and positive marketing model.
Need help? Our team can advise and support you to make this process holistic, efficient and practical. Book an appointment today!