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Shifting the Approach to DE&I: From Displaying Identities to Exploring Them

As Google Trends data shows, searches related to the topic of Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) have gained significant momentum over the past two years. We’ve also felt this increased focus reflected in the briefs we receive, where DE&I considerations are expected to be woven throughout our work (and rightly so!) rather than as a standalone theme.

Candidates are setting high standards for employers, with two-thirds of working Britons (66%) saying that the acceptance and inclusion of employees from all backgrounds is important to them when considering job opportunities (source). This emphasis on inclusive workplaces and employer brands that reflect the diversity of the workforce signals a clear shift in expectations and norms within the job market.

As the landscape continues to evolve, displaying identities is not enough to foster true inclusion. Instead, we believe organisations should shift gears and provide spaces for their candidates and employees to explore and express their identities in more nuanced and authentic ways.

1. Foster Open Dialogue and Authentic Storytelling

Creating spaces for open dialogue and authentic storytelling allows employees to share their unique experiences and perspectives. Hosting events such as panel discussions, listening sessions, or workshops where employees and candidates from different backgrounds can speak candidly about their lived realities is a great way to do this. By providing a platform for these voices, employers can help bridge gaps in understanding and create a culture of curiosity and respect.

Additionally, integrating authentic storytelling into employer brand marketing can highlight the diverse experiences of employees. Through blogs, podcasts, or videos, employers can showcase personal stories that explore multifaceted identities. This approach allows for a more complex understanding of different experiences and avoids reducing identities to stereotypes.

2. Encourage Anonymous or Pseudonymous Spaces for Exploration

Creating online forums or communities where employees can explore their identities anonymously or pseudonymously can provide a safe space for self-expression. These spaces allow individuals to share their thoughts, questions, and challenges without the fear of judgment or repercussions. Employers can support this by giving candidates and employees a space to ask anonymous questions, or by facilitating anonymous online participation in ERGs or internal forums for discussions on DE&I topics.

By offering these spaces, employers can promote a culture of exploration and self-discovery, enabling employees to engage in deeper conversations and learn from each other.

3. Prioritise Intersectionality in Employer Branding

Intersectionality recognizes that individuals' identities are complex and multifaceted, shaped by the intersection of various social and personal factors. Employer brands can prioritise intersectionality by featuring stories that highlight the nuances of individuals' experiences, rather than focusing solely on one aspect of identity.

For example, instead of highlighting only gender or race, employers can showcase employees' stories that encompass various aspects of their identity, such as race, gender, sexuality, ability, and background. This approach provides a richer and more comprehensive view of the workforce and demonstrates a commitment to valuing the full spectrum of an individual’s identity.

4. Provide Resources for Identity Exploration and Growth

Employers can support employees in exploring their identities by offering resources such as mentorship programs, affinity groups, or training sessions on topics related to DE&I. These resources can help employees navigate their identities and develop a stronger sense of self within the workplace.

Additionally, employers can partner with external organisations or experts to offer workshops on identity exploration, cultural competence, and inclusive practices. By investing in employees' growth and understanding, employers demonstrate their commitment to creating a more inclusive environment.

In conclusion, shifting the approach to DE&I from displaying identities to exploring them presents a significant opportunity for employers and their employer brands to create a more inclusive and supportive workplace. By fostering open dialogue, encouraging anonymous spaces, prioritising intersectionality, and providing resources for exploration, employers can build a stronger, more diverse, and more engaged workforce. 

We think that this means a more vibrant employer brand

As organisations continue to evolve their DE&I strategies, shifting the approach to DE&I from displaying identities to exploring them presents a significant opportunity for employers and their employer brands to create a more inclusive and supportive workplace. By fostering open dialogue, encouraging anonymous spaces, prioritising intersectionality, and providing resources for exploration, employers can build a stronger, more diverse, and more engaged workforce. 

As organisations continue to evolve their DE&I strategies, embracing this shift can lead to more meaningful connections with employees and a more vibrant employer brand.

At Tonic, we specialize in crafting bespoke employer branding strategies that reflect the unique identities and experiences of your workforce. Our expertise in DE&I allows us to help your organisation create authentic, engaging, and inclusive narratives that resonate with both current and prospective employees. We believe that by exploring and celebrating the multifaceted identities within your company, you can foster a truly inclusive culture and attract top talent.

If you’re ready to take your DE&I strategy to the next level we can help. Get in touch with us today to discuss how we can support your journey towards a more inclusive and dynamic workplace. Let’s work together to build a brand that not only displays diversity but also deeply explores and values it.



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Stephanie Smith
Stephanie Smith

Head of Social. Data geek. Runner. Sewing machine aficionado.

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