Bianca Quarrell
Driving diversity and inclusion as a communicator? Start with the data

When it comes to tackling diversity and inclusion, data specific to your own organisation should always be your starting point. This was one of the key take outs during a panel discussion facilitated by M&P’s Penny Edmondson on diversity and inclusion at the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC’s) Fusion Conference in Melbourne yesterday.


In the words of one of the panelists, Libby Lyons, leading diversity champion and Director of the Workplace Gender and Equality Agency: “You don’t know what you don’t know. You need to have a picture of what is going on (in your organisation) … you have to collect and analyse your own data so you can develop your roadmap.”


From there, language plays a pivotal role in defining and shaping culture. As communicators, we play a powerful role in setting the right tone in terms of the language used by leaders and in employee messaging.


Maya Donevska, Head of Asset and Function Communications at BHP, highlighted the importance of communications campaigns that empower people to have conversations about diversity and inclusion which they may otherwise never have had. She talked to the importance of providing a framework for people in terms of language around calling out behaviours and raising awareness about how people can be more inclusive in their workplaces.


Some other key take outs from our panelists were the importance of connectedness: both Megan Dwyer from M&P Partners and Johanna Neilsen, a committed diversity advocate, spoke to the power of HR and communication functions working together to harness the power of storytelling to make diversity and inclusion relevant to employees.


For those of us feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of diversity and inclusion as a topic, the advice from Johanna Neilsen is to narrow your area of focus. Select a few areas relevant to your organisation from the data and start there. Start small, but start somewhere. Once people start seeing some success they will advocate for it.


Thank you to our brilliant panelists – Libby Lyons, Maya Donevska, Johanna Neilsen and Megan Dwyer – all diversity advocates who each brought their own unique and valuable perspectives to the discussion.