Use Employee Stories to Communicate Your Commitment to DEI
September 21, 2021 by Stories Inc.
Stories Incorporated has worked with some of the most progressive companies to create content that supports their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) commitment and progress. Although every company’s approach is unique, employee storytelling is the integral part of all of the most effective DEI messages.
DEI finally became an essential, expected element in all organizations’ communications in response to the racial discrimination reckoning of 2020. After the murder of George Floyd, there was a clear demand from customers, candidates and employees for real accountability of companies’ commitment to improve inclusion and eradicate racism.
Corporate statements, press releases and platitudes don’t cut it. But real stories from the people who experience and form company culture — the employees — prove DEI progress. Unscripted team member stories authentically bring organizational actions, attitudes and values to life.
And, they’re versatile: employee stories are used to recruit new employees as well as educate and engage existing employees. Employee stories can be created in any medium — videos, blogs, social content, graphics — optimized per channel.
We’re honored to do this every day in the content we create for our client partners. And, we’re likewise happy to share with you our top five tips for communicating your organization’s DEI progress and plans to candidates and employees.
Tip #1: Ground and prove your claims with stories
From your company’s official diversity and inclusion statement to words on your career site, the words “diversity and inclusion” are the same sentiment that job seekers and employees see everywhere. Stories from real employees validate your inclusion efforts.
For instance, a great deal of DEI messaging includes the concept of supporting the employee’s whole self. It sounds great, but they’re empty words without employee stories to back them up.
However, AstraZeneca’s U.S. Head of Diversity and Inclusion shared his story of exactly how he has been able to bring his full, authentic self to work, and how he has experienced that freedom in the culture.
Employees also can show that your promises to increase diversity and inclusion are for real. For example, Dell Technologies made a commitment to have gender parity by 2030. To prove this claim, we uncovered stories that showed that Dell Technologies has the support in place to create a place where women can thrive.
In this video, their big audacious goal is announced. Then, we proved the progress and seriousness of the commitment by including stories of how women employees around the world have been supported in their career and personal lives. That shows women candidates that Dell Technologies is ready for them, and serious about creating a place where they can thrive.
Tip #2: Use time to your advantage
It’s not enough to have great DEI stories content. You also need to think through how and when you’re going to use those stories for maximum engagement. To get the most out of your DEI content, time its release during monthly celebrations and holidays.
Of course, you shouldn’t only share Black employee stories during Black History Month or LGBTQ+ stories during Pride Month, for example. But, you absolutely want to show support at a time when candidates and employees within and without underrepresented groups want to see your support. Developing a DEI content calendar helps you plan ahead and think of the stories you want to tell when they’ll have the most impact.
This video from LabCorp weaves many stories together to show how the company supports their LGBTQ+ colleagues. They launched this video during June, but the stories are relevant all year long. They plan to reuse throughout the year and across different channels.
Tip #3: Honor the story and the storyteller
The best way to get employees to share great stories with you is to honor the storyteller experience and the story. That means…
Facilitate the experience from start to finish
Don’t leave employees to share their stories in a vacuum, alone. Instead, build rapport and help them every step of the way. Schedule their time, prepare them to share their stories, and conduct thoughtful interviews with them. Before you sit down to capture their stories, employee storytellers should already be comfortable with their interviewer so they can begin their conversation at a higher level.
Focus on the storyteller’s comfort
The best stories are shared during interviews in which storytellers are secure and comfortable sharing their real experiences. Start with light questions and earn their trust. Provide them with psychological safety to share hard or personal stories.
Prioritize quality and consistency to honor the story
Employee stories should be honored with consistent, great quality audio and video. We think this is always important to make sure the story doesn’t get lost because the viewer is distracted by a fuzzy visual or muffled sound. But, this is especially important when creating DEI content. You don’t want one person’s audio to sound off and the next to be crystal clear. Consistency is really important.
And, you want to make your storytellers proud, and to eventually share their story with their networks. This is more likely to happen when they look and sound great.
Optimize for engagement
Optimize your stories especially for the channel on which you’re sharing them. Whether it’s your career site, Intranet, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Glassdoor profile, tailor the content for the medium and audience
Tip #4: Weave stories together to show pervasive culture
When you develop DEI content that weaves together multiple perspectives around a topic, you show that it’s not just one person who experiences an inclusive culture. You show that inclusion is pervasive throughout your organization.
For this content communicating Dell Technologies’ commitment to diversity and inclusion throughout its locations around the world, we captured stories from employees in nine different offices, across five different continents. Then, by bringing them together, we can show a culture of inclusion that exists around the world.
Tip #5: Remove barriers to add perspectives
The more perspectives you can include in your employee story project, the stronger your DEI content. But sometimes it’s easy to rule out employees because of factors like location.
You can remove geographic barriers and increase employee participation globally, without having to sacrifice visual quality. Once COVID-19 hit, we applied our methodology to create Virtual Story Sessions, and almost all of our work became global as a result.
The countries of storytellers Stories Inc. has interviewed in-person, virtually, or both.
Capturing stories no matter where work happens also more accurately reflects today’s hybrid workforce. For DEI content, it also gives more employees the chance to tell their stories.
Your employees and candidates are keenly interested in your company’s DEI commitment and they want to hear about it from your people experiencing inclusion and change. So, don’t develop one video or piece of content, label it your DEI effort, and call it a day. Add DEI messages throughout all of your content — It’s an important, prevailing, ever-present cultural reality. Let us know if we can help.
Stories Incorporated uncovers powerful stories of employee experiences and brings those stories to life through engaging content. Using a variety of digital media, Stories Inc. delivers content libraries full of engaging pieces optimized for all candidate and employee-facing channels.