Friends, it’s time to talk about how we communicate in 2022

We’ve come a long way when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Parental leave programs are expanding to more realistically reflect family dynamics, the gender pay gap is narrowing (albeit slowly), grounded recognition is more easily embedded in corporate culture, and organizations are increasingly responsible for inequalities.

However, when you look at the big picture, there is still work to be done, a lot of work. Last month (February 2022), an Australian Christian school tried to get parents to sign a new enrollment contract that would see students expelled because of their gender identity.

Discrimination is a complex and widespread problem. People can be discriminated against for a multitude of reasons – race, religion, sexual preference, age, gender, disability – and as long as the legislation exists (e.g. Age Discrimination Act 2004, Disability Discrimination Act 1992 Racial Discrimination Act 1975, Sex Discrimination Act 1984, Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986), changing our deeply rooted and internalized attitudes and behaviors is not enough.

Creating real and lasting change takes education and time. Unconscious bias is a confronting reality that many of us (yes, you guessed it) are unaware of. So how do we take a step back and first recognize the prejudices deeply rooted in our psyche? Casual racism creeps into everyday conversation, especially among Australians, and if you have to challenge or call out someone they often jump straight to the defense or worse, suggest people just need to toughen up.

So how can we do better collectively? How can we learn from our past actions and embed inclusivity in our organizations?

Before diving into some concrete actions, I should clarify that I am by no means a diversity and inclusion (D&I) expert. I am a white female who grew up in Australia in a stable, financially stable family. My passion for this subject comes from eight years of experience in corporate communications throughout this pivotal period of global change. Personally, I’ve seen small changes in the way we communicate, like not treating employees like “guys” and working on large-scale organizational projects, like launching an anti-racism framework for British Columbia. Institute of Technology. These projects have taught me a lot. But there is still so much to learn.

Here are six ways to encourage inclusivity in your organization.

1. It’s time to stop calling your employees “guys”

For starters, let’s start with a relatively simple question, changing the way we talk to employees. Chances are we’ve all been guilty of using “guys” when talking to our

colleagues. It’s pretty ingrained in our vocabulary and while it may seem trivial in the scheme of things, it can reinforce the feeling that women are a minority in the workplace.

“Some people don’t feel excluded by the word ‘guy’, but others do,” admits Lisa Annese, CEO of Diversity Council Australia. “The word ‘guy’ can be used for both men and women, but not for everyone.” Lisa Annese, CEO of Diversity Council Australia

Although it takes some practice to kick this habit, once you find an alternative, you’ll be well on your way. Some alternatives are, team, people, all and everyone.

2. Add pronouns to your email signature, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, etc.

While it might seem like a small thing, for some people it’s a big deal and not having to correct people – or pretend you’re okay with being misdirected – using the correct pronoun can go a long way. It shows that you accept others for the way they want to be seen.

“Using the right pronouns to refer to someone can be one of the easiest ways to show them respect and help them assert themselves. It’s also one of the best ways to promote an inclusive atmosphere in the workplace. within your organization ACON Pride Training

Simply add your pronouns to your email signature, Zoom handle, and anywhere else you communicate with your team members. It really is that simple. If you want to take it a step further, consider asking employees to share their pronouns when introducing themselves at a meeting with new team members or during a session with co-workers you don’t normally work with. .

3. Learn to pronounce the names of your colleagues

This is especially important to keep in mind for colleagues who may be from a different country or ethnicity and have experienced this for much of their lives. You have several options, the first being obvious – just ask. But if you don’t feel comfortable or are looking to facilitate pronunciation on a larger scale, another approach can be to add pronunciations to your staff directory.

“Being called by our names is powerful. It encourages a sense of visibility, connection and belonging. Jane Bryan, University of Warwick

4. Incorporate Territorial Recognition into Your Corporate Meetings and Events

“Integrating welcome and acknowledgment protocols into formal meetings and events recognizes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as traditional owners of the land and demonstrates respect.” Reconciliation Australia

If you don’t know what land you live and work on, now is the time to find out. AIATSIS has put together some great resources to help you, and while it may take some research and investigative work on your behalf, it will be worth it.

5. Celebrate cultural moments

Now, that’s tricky, and more often than not, stocks miss the mark. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) speaker and consultant Kim Clark says it best: As communicators, “Let’s focus on our core competency to design messages, channels and employee engagement. »

So what does celebrating cultural moments look like? It means moving away from token celebrations – it’s not enough to post a social message to show your solidarity or to have a morning tea party. A good place to start is to form a committee or task force made up of a broad cross-section of employees in your organization to start the conversation and guide future initiatives. Some large organizations have a dedicated DEI employee or team, however, if not, you might be pleasantly surprised by your employees’ willingness to contribute and participate in an employee-led group.

6. Integrate D&I into your communication strategy

To drive meaningful change and communicate with your employees authentically, D&I must be integrated into your overall communication strategy. Assess your existing employee channels to update language to be inclusive and non-sectarian. Update your organization’s employee forms to include all gender options rather than just “male” and “female.” Make sure your LBGTQI+ employees feel valued and supported throughout the year, not just during Pride Week. Or maybe it’s time to rebrand the annual Christmas party as a Christmas party?

I have just scratched the surface of what we as communication professionals can do to foster a more inclusive workplace. More education, patience and uncomfortable conversations will need to take place within your organization and among your peers to make a difference. But it will be worth it.

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