Diversity and inclusion: How to communicate authentically

What are the two things you should do to authentically communicate your approach – regardless of your starting point?

Investors and stakeholders are paying more attention to diversity and inclusion metrics – and with good reason. Research from McKinsey shows that diverse executive teams tend to outperform financial expectations and that the least gender-diverse companies are also the poorest performers. The business case for diversity grows clearer by the day.

However, with progress towards parity still slow, it’s likely that most companies are starting from a less-than-stellar baseline. How should these companies proceed? Here are a couple of simple tips.

1. Use photography that is authentic to your situation

“You need to be authentic. No stock photography.”

         – Mark Litchfield, Executive Creative Director, Luminous

You might be tempted to use stock images of diverse teams as a way to demonstrate your aspiration. It might even seem better than re-using the same photo over and over again. But in our experience, it will come across as inauthentic and tokenistic.

Instead, showcase the powerful real-life stories that exist within your business – even if there are only a few of them. Be respectful of your people and let them tell their story. It might be uncomfortable or expose hard truths. But telling the human side of the story is what will form a connection with your stakeholders.

For an example of the power of using real people in corporate communications, check out our case study on Octapharma. We filmed in 16 locations across three continents, taking care to cover a diverse range of demographics, cultures, and regions. The stories combine to present a global team working together to deliver Octapharma’s vision to “provide new health solutions to advance human life.”

2. Use data, infographics, and iconography to focus attention on action

Most companies report on the gender diversity of their overall workforce. While any such data is welcome, this approach can mask a lack of representation at the manager, executive, and board levels. A large pie chart highlighting your 50:50 employee composition followed by a tiny paragraph showing few or no women at the executive level will come across as hypocritical and disingenuous.

Instead, use design to highlight your plans for change. Are you changing recruitment policies? Using AI to eliminate bias in job specs? Recruiting from different geographies? Use illustrations and infographics to get the point across. The emphasis on action will have far more impact than a lone pie chart ever could. James Moore, Creative Director at Luminous, adds, “Illustrations can be a powerful tool to support your message by representing a variety of genders, abilities, and ethnicities. For example, Black Illustrations are working to challenge a lack of inclusiveness in stock illustration by providing more diverse images.”

For an example of the impactful use of data and illustrations to communicate change, check out our case study on Informa. Its sustainability report presents Informa’s new FasterForward programme, an ambitious commitment to increasingly sustainable ways of working. The editorial-style publication features articles that highlight a deep commitment to a series of activities between 2020 and 2025 that will ensure that Informa becomes an ever more sustainable business with a more positive impact on the world.

How we can help
If you would like to learn more about how Luminous could help you explore creative and authentic ways to communicate your approach to diversity and inclusion, please get in touch.