A strong communication strategy will build awareness of your gender inclusion objectives, dispel myths and misconceptions, and promote buy-in to change.
Define what you want to achieve with the communication and engagement plan – core objectives typically include:
A business case for gender inclusion helps to build commitment to a gender strategy and its implementation. Best practices in developing a business case include:
Identify stakeholders to inform – groups and individuals that will be most affected by the initiative or will care about its outcome. Identify influencers to engage – groups and individuals to engage in effecting the change.
Develop actions to inform stakeholders about your gender inclusion initiative.
Create key messages
Engage key influencers and change agents
Identify a few well-respected and influential people in the work location, the company or in the industry; develop a plan for engaging each of them. Talk with them about how they can be helpful.
Give key influencers/change agents a voice in influencing the direction being set by senior leadership, as well as the implementation plans.
Involve both women and men in the planning phase – analyzing results of the baseline assessment, identifying priorities and leading initiatives.
When recruiting influencers, customize the business case to their areas of concern and proactively address any myths and misconceptions relating to the gender inclusion initiative – e.g. effort involved, impact on their role and activities.
Provide education and ongoing support to equip them for their role — continue to engage with them regularly. Create an ongoing two-way dialogue with them to gather their insights and feedback during implementation.
Encourage the Champion to act as a coach or mentor for key influencers – this helps to demonstrate the Champion’s commitment, creates a two-way communication channel, and offers the influencers an added value that might encourage participation.
Select communication channels
Monitor and communicate successes
Implement parallel approaches
Avoid relying on a series of one-way communications. Initiate meaningful dialogues with employees, supervisors, executives and industry stakeholders. Work to surface concerns and differences in perspective, and then uncover new insights and possibilities. Champions and change agents can raise, or be prepared to respond to, topics such as the following:
The Gender Equity in Mining (GEM) Works – Learn to Make a Diffference e-learning program supports change agents in applying the GEM Works Toolbox to update policies and practicies to identify and remove unintended barriers. In particular, see:
Module 1: The Importance of Gender Equity in Mining – to customize your business case
Module 4: Building Organizational Support & Momentum – for additional ideas for engaging stakeholders
The GEM Works Executive Development Sessions are two half-day, interactive programs that enable mining leaders to suceed as a “Gender Champion” driving change towards a more gender-inclusive workplace.
The workshops include topics such as mythbusters around gender inclusion, and storytelling, which can be invaluable elements of a communications and engagement plan.
1 Workplace Gender Equality Agency (2014). Gender strategy toolkit: A direction for achieving gender equality in your organisation. Australian Government.; T.W. Fitzsimmons & V.J. Callan (2015). Filling the Pool: A landmark report to achieve gender equality in Western Australia. Perth: The Committee for Perth.
2 Adapted from Elisabeth Kelan (2015). Linchpin – Men, Middle Managers and Gender Inclusive Leadership. Cranfield International Centre For Women Leaders. Cranfield University; and Diversity Officer Magazine. Implementing a High Impact Diversity Initiative Communication Strategy. http://diversityofficermagazine.com/diversity-inclusion/implementing-a-high-impact-diversity-initiative-communication-strategy
3 Recent research suggests that when a group has very low representation in a workforce, they prefer messages about equity and fairness; as numbers start to increase, messages about valuing differences resonate more. See Apfelbaum, E.P., Stephens, N.M. & Reagans, R.E. (2016). Beyond one-size-fits-all: Tailoring diversity approaches to representation of social groups. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pspi0000071