Use these free tools and learn from the gurus to build an inclusive community

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For a whole world of reasons, organizations and people are focused on building an inclusive community in the workplace. Are we late to the game? You bet. Is it a long haul? You bet. Self-education and sustainable change require consistency. However, it begins with a single committed step forward. To learn, embrace, and include others who are different across a variety of spectrums. This includes disability, race, gender, age, sexual preference, and other equity-related identity areas.

In October, I launched a three-part series showcasing the best of the best across my blog themes. I’m including my top tools, resources, communities, and leaders within each theme Last month it was branding; this month it’s inclusion.

Tools to help you build an inclusive community

a brick wall with the words together we create painted in black  with the image of a paintbrush so both represent an inclusive community
Photo by “My Life Through A Lens” on Unsplash

Creating accessible content for the disabled. If you produce work communications, are you mindful of all audiences? For example, do you think about enabling sound for the sight-impaired? Likewise, do you provide descriptions for the hearing impaired? Both Microsoft and Google provide built-in accessibility tools. Whether you’re creating a document, email, spreadsheet, or presentation, accessibility is a click away. Learn more about Microsoft’s Accessibility Checker and Google’s Accessibility Products.

Guiding the career path for marginalized job seekers. Jennifer Tardy is pioneering new trails across a variety of digital platforms to support job seekers. I subscribe to the But What About Me podcast, which highlights the challenges marginalized groups often face. For instance, groups like veterans, transgender people, previously incarcerated persons, and adults aged 50 and over, among many others. Across all groups, Tardy shares how to elevate your strengths and expertise.

Acquiring skills to be an inclusive community builder. Earlier this year, I completed the USF certificate program, DEI in the Workplace. Beyond educational, the course is layered with honest dialogue and practical application. Not only will you learn about developing business practices, but you’ll also learn how to increase company revenue and improve performance.

Guiding respectful communication across our borders. Do you interact with international colleagues? If so, It’s important to understand cultural norms. For example, which cultures rely on group discussion for decision-making? Which opt for individual thinking? Which cultures don’t mind you standing close and which prefer distance? Geert Hofstede developed the cultural compass to navigate these cultural preferences.

Diversifying voices in the advertising world. When it comes to the agency world, we lack diversity. I know; I’ve worked in the space for 20 years. Equally, we’ve lacked diversity in advertising as well. That said, I do believe the ad space is changing and evolving. Kudos to membership groups like AIR: Allies in Recruiting for bringing formidable voices to the table to drive change. For “giving grace to all who are doing the work to actively evolve.”

Make it known and…

Photo by Mitchell Griest on Unsplash

In addition to these tools, there are amazing, intuitive leaders carrying others as they climb. Standing in the gap and having the conversations. Providing education and advocating relentlessly. Below is a shortlist of my heroes and gurus.

Amplifying voice for the disabled. Jenny Lay-Flurrie is clear in her mission: “act with a bolder ambition to open doors and empower disabled talent.” As the Chief Accessibility Officer for Microsoft and a member of the disabled community, she’s boots on the ground authentic.

Understanding what unconscious bias means. Along with Flurrie, Valerie Alexander was a favorite instructor of mine in the USF DEI program. Want to understand what unconscious bias means? Alexander’s TED Talk will explain it in relatable terms. She demonstrates how lived experiences affect how we see ourselves in the world – and with others.

The art of storytelling. I discovered the brilliance of René Carayol as a guest on the Inclusion Works podcast. He’s a king when it comes to storytelling. Rather than showcasing program success, Carayol says share lived experiences. Most mportantly, he’s an advocate for truth-telling. Real and raw.

The world isn’t flat. With today’s global economy, many of us work with colleagues beyond our borders. The goal of SIETAR USA is to facilitate respectful communication with people from other cultures. Equally, the organization provides knowledge and expertise through conferences, webinars, and online content.

Going there, being bold. Often, we avoid dialogue with people different from us because we don’t want to say the wrong thing. Likewise, we feel everything we say is the wrong thing. This is where the learning gets traction! Emmanuel Accho, a former NFL linebacker goes right to the heart of race matters in his YouTube series.

Meet my brothers

The Lost Boys and CoolDeb
My Sudanese brothers from left to right: Santino, Malou, and Yai. Not pictured, Mabior.

Besides the tools and gurus mentioned above, I’m also sharing my favorite blog post. It’s short and sweet – unlike my journey with my Sudanese brothers. It’s been long, bittersweet, and heart-wrenching at times. Consequently, I’ve learned a lifetime across the years since we first met on 9/11. As a result, I’m an enlightened sister and a better world citizen for knowing them. I’m educated in new ways on struggle, perseverance, humility, and love.

I hope you find these tools and experts insightful and helpful. Please explore! I invite you to share your favorite inclusion resources and leaders in the comments section.

Debbie Schallock is a content and brand strategist, DEI ally, communication thought leader, and content marketing partner to agencies. She’s the founder of Seachange Branding, arming startups and SMBs with the right tools to clarify business positioning and carve a competitive advantage. She blogs on the topics of branding and inclusion. Her research has been published in the International Journal of Diversity in Organisations, Communities & Nations – A Space for Gray: The Value of Difference.

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