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How to Effectively Share DEI Stories

Part 1: Amplifying Inclusion Through Employee-Centric Storytelling

Many companies have begun telling their DEIB story through annual reports that often include numbers and summations of their inclusion efforts, but how often do numbers inspire a behavioral change? We’ve heard the age-old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words, but how much is a picture and the story worth? Sharing impactful stories about employees can foster inclusion and spotlight employees for their contributions. 

Inclusive storytelling should also feel authentic because people expect their leaders to be transparent and Listen. Learn. Then Lead With TLC (Transparency, Leadership by Example, and Caring)™. They don’t want the diluted, “professional” version they may see in a meeting. 

Representation is important

Amplified stories don’t always need to come from the executive suite or high-level management. Inspirational stories can come from anyone in the organization. One study published in the journal Academy of Management revealed that newcomers prefer to hear stories from their peers rather than leaders. When people hear stories that reflect their own demographics it can drive change and create a perspective-changing opportunity. 

Stories foster belonging all year

It’s also important to share stories throughout the year and not just during Black History Month, Women’s History Month, pride celebrations, religious observances, and Veterans Day. Diversity and inclusion should be celebrated year-round because employees exist outside of their race, gender, sexuality, and religion. Sharing these stories throughout the year will foster belonging and give the employees a sense of loyalty.

Showcase employee contributions

Aside from a sense of pride, employees might feel for being highlighted in a company-wide video, it could also lead to opportunities for career advancement. It gives employees a chance to be seen by upper management and have their voices heard. When it comes time for promotions or other career growth opportunities, senior leaders might think of their powerful voice and want them for a higher position. 

Create safe places for sharing

To find the best stories, there may be a way to create safe places where stories can be shared without judgment. Host events like discussion-heavy book clubs, include stories in a company newsletter or blog, have social forums and meet-ups, or develop a dynamic social media campaign centered on storytelling. 

Share stories with intention to avoid tokenism

Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging efforts can be more than reports and survey data. Companies can choose an underutilized human-centric approach by sharing stories about the impact that their people are making in their organizations and in the communities where they volunteer and serve. Companies that operationalize inclusion in their regular communications, their culture, and their values will see a higher ROI (Relationships, Outcomes, and Impact) of DEI™ and build stronger relationships with their employees.  Stay tuned for my next blog on additional thoughts on how to avoid tokenism.

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