What steps can organizations take to develop messaging strategies that emphasize diversity, equity, and inclusion in their external communications?
Corporations must consider various factors when communicating with their key stakeholders, including customer base, employees, government leaders, shareholders, and other audiences.
- Build your substantive capacity in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).
One of the most important aspects of developing a messaging strategy is to think about the substance behind the message. Specifically, what steps has your corporation taken, or could it take in the short-term, to ensure that it meets its DEI goals (e.g., what programs are in place to eliminate bias in hiring decisions? What steps have been taken to ensure that all customers are treated fairly by the organization, including the significant reduction or elimination of racial disparities?).
Transparency and a bias towards action engender the target audience to trust your brand and be more willing to purchase your products and services.
Investments by Goldman Sachs in their One Million Black Women initiative and JP Morgan Chase, with their Advancing Black Pathways Program are examples of substantive programs that meet the needs of local communities while helping those corporations meet their goals.
- Consider DEI For All External Communications
We advise clients to focus on DEI holistically, taking in diversity across the organization and developing programs that will have a significant impact on the communities in which they conduct business.
“A guiding principle when I founded TML Communications, in 2015, was to make sure minority communities and critical causes had a way to develop and amplify their message.”
Earlier this year, Ralph Lauren created a collection with Spelman and Morehouse, both historically black colleges. The collection sold out within a matter of hours and recognized the role those schools played in shaping America while providing proceeds to those colleges as part of the licensing agreements.
Ralph Lauren didn’t simply make a donation. Rather, they used their billion-dollar brand to make a decisive statement saying it was worth recognizing, they support the schools, and that similar partnerships would come soon. Even the design of the clothing paid a specific focus on the history of those schools, using archival footage from each to create a specific look that was further refined by their internal design team.
In my view, Ralph Lauren didn’t just say they support HBCUs. Instead, they directly showed it with this campaign. Nationwide earned media coverage, and sold-out products naturally followed.
- Hire an external communications firm to develop a communications plan.
One of the reasons that corporations work with external partners on important messaging initiatives is because we are subject matter experts, as well as the ability to bring a fresh perspective to the engagement.
At TML Communications, we have had the opportunity to work with organizations, including DoorDash, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, and Temple University, on projects that make a difference and ensure that socioeconomic disparities are reduced and/or eliminated.
While it may seem easy for a large corporation to simply hire a firm to meet their DEI needs, that is true but only with a caveat.
The corporation needs the right partner. From our perspective, that is a firm that is community focused while having the unique ability to tailor programs that also meet corporate goals.
We have learned by doing that community engagement and DEI initiatives only work when they have the support and budget they need to be successful.
The Chamber positions diversity, equity, and inclusion as critical for business maturation and growth. Our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiative drives economic competitiveness, highlights diverse employee populations, and promotes inclusive growth throughout the Greater Philadelphia region.