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5 February, 2021 • 4 min read
Storytelling has long been the most powerful tool a business has to build trust with its audience. When done well, it can evoke empathy and inspire action far beyond what a set of stats or facts could achieve. Considering the clear need for businesses to represent the diverse customer bases they serve, it’s no longer enough for leaders to state their commitment to building inclusive environments.
More than ever, people seek social proof that a company lives its values - and what better proof than the very people who work for your business? On November 4th, 2020, we had the pleasure of hosting a workshop as part of World Employer Branding Day. During the workshop, we discussed the positive impact that inclusive stories can have - not only on organisational culture but in the wider community.
Together with the team at WEBD, we set out a roadmap to help organisations champion diversity through impactful storytelling.
Storytelling has the potential to create a shared understanding of the perspectives, experiences and challenges of diverse employees. But you can’t tell a story you don’t understand or haven’t experienced yourself. Rather than telling someone else’s story or sidestepping the topic entirely, hand the mic to those who have actually lived it. Listening is crucial, especially if you can’t relate personally. If your stories are to be authentic, you should consider investing in Employee Resource Groups to work together around a cause. If in doubt, give your people a platform to share their experiences and ensure your external comms marry up with your internal actions.
Don’t hesitate to turn the focus to the uncomfortable issues raised in these discussions - the whole point of the exercise is to understand what’s going on under the surface so you can make the necessary changes and inspire others in the community to follow suit.
Having done your research, it’s time to empower your employees to speak up. Keep in mind that not all your people will want to be in the spotlight - some will be braver than others. Start by encouraging employees who are already vocal on their personal channels to share their vulnerability and helping them to tell their story. Not only will this lead to stories that are more impactful and authentic, but it may also even inspire others within your community to speak on their own experiences.
A well-told D&I story has the potential to educate the wider community and build bridges based on mutual understanding. With a group of employees who feel empowered to speak up, you’re ready to give them the tools to have their voice heard. On that note, the more perspectives you can include on a particular issue, the more impactful your story. Try to involve voices from every level of the organisation spanning from recent grads to the leadership team. Don’t hesitate to cast a light on the difficulties faced by diverse employees - it is only by casting a light on these issues that we can educate an audience on this important cause. While stories speak louder than facts, we recommend weaving in some supporting stats to help bring the point home.
As well as educating your audience, impactful D&I stories should celebrate the diversity of your community. Beyond a singular campaign, your organisation must constantly seek to highlight the contributions and achievements of its people. Use some of your stories to draw attention to “ordinary” people doing extraordinary things; highlight their successes and the challenges they have overcome. Talking of celebrations, take the opportunity of national campaigns such as Pride or Black History Month to run company-wide events that involve all of your employees - not just those who belong to a particular community.
As important as it is to actively participate in events such as Pride Month, culture is what happens when nobody is watching. That’s why D&I storytelling needs to become a staple in your comms strategy if it is to have an impact. Only when inclusion is treated as a business priority can brands hope to feel the true benefits of a diverse workforce. Make a sustained effort to support your D&I employees and you will eventually succeed in creating an environment in which they feel comfortable telling their story.
Thanks to advances in technology, it’s easier than ever to show the world what your organisation stands for. In an age where engagement is often determined by how trustworthy a brand appears to its audience, user-generated video is fast-becoming the medium of choice for impactful corporate storytelling. At Seenit, we’re helping brands to take advantage of this powerful format through our easy-to-use, intuitive platform. Get in touch today to start your UGV journey.
If you missed out on WEBD, don’t worry - you can watch the highlight reel here to get a flavour for the event and the power of UGV.