March 24, 2021

INCLUSIVE COMMUNICATIONS MATTER: EP. 10 OF RED SKY FUEL FOR THOUGHT PODCAST

by Aalastair Sibley in News

March is Women’s History Month in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. It’s also the month we recognize International Women’s Day, and it comes on the heels of Black History Month in the U.S. This year the latter was especially poignant, after a year of landmark Black Lives Matter protests. All told, many brands and companies are now turning their attention squarely to diversity, equity & inclusion (DE&I).  As a roundtable of expert communicators discuss in this episode, bias knows no limits and as such, has extended into corporate and brand communications and experiences.

In This Episode You Will Learn:

  • What the concepts of diversity, inclusion and equity really mean and how they differ 
  • The definition of inclusive communications 
  • Practical steps for infusing equity, respect and belonging into brand content and experiences 

Led by Red Havas EVP Linda Descano, the discussion includes the perspectives of Brandi Boatner, IBM’s manager of digital & advocacy communications; Carmella Glover, president of Diversity Action Alliance; and Sébastien Houdusse, BETC’s chief strategy officer. Together, they examine inclusive communications, focusing on practical steps for infusing equity, respect and a sense of belonging into employee and customer experiences.  

As Glover says, “Inclusive communications means thinking about all of your stakeholders, which can be overwhelming, especially because our stakeholder groups are becoming increasingly complex. But being as open as possible, and using as much neutral language as possible—clear, concise language that maybe you run by a few of your diverse colleagues from all different backgrounds, just to make sure that there’s nothing in there that’s offensive. So inclusive communications means something that will not make anyone feel offended or excluded. And it actually takes a lot of care.” 

Houdusse, who formerly worked for Procter & Gamble, points out how adopting a consumer-centric mindset can be the first step toward inclusive communications: “We were always told we needed to think about the consumer first. That was our first thought. Not what’s going to be the cheapest way for us to manufacture this skincare cream? Not—what’s the most scientifically correct way to go about this? But what does the consumer want? What is important to them? With that in mind, you automatically become a more inclusive organization because you could be considering somebody who’s very different than you.” 

With more employees and consumers rallying around purpose, we’ve seen a marked uptick in the number of organizations talking publicly about their commitments to DE&I. They’re also being held accountable for those commitments by stakeholders when their pledges don’t match their actions, progress and communications.  

“Something that brands, organizations and stakeholders need to really think through is not what are we going to say?” says Boatner. “It really is why are we saying what we’re saying? Why are we saying that we stand with this community, who is hurting, who is in pain, who is going through something awful? We are doing it because it’s the right thing to do, but also because we foster inclusion at every point, and we’re an organization that will speak up and speak out against injustice and against inequality, and against, you know, any violation of human rights. Brands need to really think about that.” 

Episode 10 wraps up with a chat with Stacey Gandler, who answers the questions we ask of a new guest each month and shares her guiding philosophy with listeners. The global managing director of Red Havas Health, a global micro-network focused on health, says, “We’re conditioned as people to believe that in order to survive and succeed, we always have to be hustling and bustling around. And this can only overload our central nervous system. As humans, we’re meant to feel connected and joyful, really, at the core of us. And we can only do that if we stop once in a while and reboot. That can help us be our best selves—slow down and breathe.” 

Give “Red Sky Fuel for Thought” a listen, and subscribe to the show on iTunesSpotify or your favourite podcasting app.